Malek Labbane had a successful career as a SAP consultant and delivery manager working for top-tier companies around the globe before multiple caring needs at home necessitated a career break. Over the next 12 years, she became a stay-at-home mother of two while running her own interior design studio.
A keen hiker and long-distance canoeist, Malek always had an interest in tech and during her break from a corporate career, she kept up with the latest in the sector. Yet, the time away had taken a toll on her confidence and she found herself doubting her credentials and eligibility to apply to consultancy roles after her 12-year hiatus.
She had almost given up hope of ever returning to a corporate role when she attended a women returners webinar and came across FDM.
Meeting other returners and hearing their stories of getting back to work – some with over 20-year career breaks – reassured her that she could do it too. So, after spending a month updating her CV and cover letter, she applied to FDM just before Christmas 2022.
Malek went through the Business Project Management stream and loved the FDM training curriculum and how each week progressed in terms of challenge and intensity, easing her back into corporate work. Over seven weeks, she and her cohort of 10 trained and received certifications in Prince 2 and Agile Scrum Master.
I love learning new skills and challenging myself! The highlights for me were Excel week and financial awareness week.
At the end of her training Malek joined an internal pod at FDM as a product owner supervising a team of ten including 5 developers, 3 BAs and 2 testers working on a wellbeing platform. This role helped enhance her corporate skills and prepared her to transition into a new position as SAP Product Owner for a retail client.
In addition, the FDM training combined a good mix of soft skills like communication and leadership and technical skills like project management and business analysis – coaching her for a team leader or project manager role.
Learnings from a career break
During her career break, Malek had gained a degree in interior design to set up her own business where she delivered projects to clients, and this allowed her to hone her delivery skills. Malek believes that looking after a neuro-diverse child also helped her cultivate empathy and resilience. Those skills are very important in a leadership position where in addition to delivery you have to be supportive of your team members and other stakeholders.
Returning to a corporate work environment after an extended time away can be daunting and Malek also experienced initial nervousness. However, the quality FDM training and the weekly preparation helped her overcome her imposter syndrome and thrive in her new role.
Being a stay-at-home mum who was constantly available to her children, Malek admitted that it took her family some adjusting to not having her around 24X7.
‘Even though at first, they didn’t like the idea of mum not being available 24/7, I know that they are proud of me.’
The initial 7-week FDM training, held in a hybrid online format, allowed for a smooth transition while managing family and corporate responsibilities.
Support at FDM
Malek praised the FDM Returners team for their support in refining her CV and preparing her for interviews. Their constant guidance boosted her confidence and got her ready and excited to excel at client site.
‘It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves’
Looking back at her career journey and how far she’s come, Malek quotes Sir Edmund Hillary. Her advice for potential returners?
'Believe in yourself and go for it. It is possible!'
At FDM we are committed to help you get back to work no matter your background or how long your break. Apply to the FDM Returners Programme today and launch an exciting career in business or tech.