‘Green defectors’ ditch high-flying careers in business and finance

Six years ago, Samantha Cooper had a high-powered job in London’s Canary Wharf financial district and a hard-charging life to match it.

At 42, she was running a global trading team at oil group BP, rising at dawn and heading straight to the gym, checking emails all the way for any market-moving news.

To recover from her punishing working weeks, she would book last-minute flights to the Maldives, business class. Or fantasise about plans for an underground swimming pool at her second home in Kent. It was an exhausting, but addictive, way to live.

“There was always that feeling that I needed another year,” she says. No matter how much money and success she had, she adds, “you could always convince yourself that you didn’t have enough yet”.

By the end of 2015 though, it was Cooper who had had enough. After nearly 20 years of trading at BP, making money felt okay, but not great. She wasn’t spending time with her ageing parents. When she and her husband, a gardener, had friends to stay, she found herself worrying about when they would leave because she had so much work to do.

“I’d lost who I was,” she says. “My values were not in line with…

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