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FDM Returners Success Stories: Claire Gardner

Claire Gardner is a single mum of two who joined FDM after a 19-year career break. Read her story of returning to work as a Project Manager in a financial services company.

What were you doing in your career before your break?

I was a Project Manager, with over 15 years’ experience in Management and Digital Consultancy. I had a long career with Accenture and then moved to New Media with Razorfish, who were the digital pioneers of the 1990’s.

At Accenture, my clients were predominantly in the Financial Services sector. I spent many years implementing systems at Goldman Sachs, ING Barings and was head of Front-end development in a PFI Consortium of Accenture, Barclaycard and Unisys.

I was a founding member of the Accenture European Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Service Line, where I managed cross-industry teams, delivering mobile salesforce and call centre solutions to blue chip clients such as Prudential Insurance and Compaq. 

I was headhunted from Accenture by Razorfish Digital, to lead the team creating a ground-breaking website for a global corporate rebrand of Razorfish itself. 

What did you do on your career break?

I qualified as a Gym and Advanced Pilates Instructor (which I taught in conjunction with full-time childcare). I did a master’s degree in Psychodynamic Psychology, trained intensively for 6 months and qualified as a Certified Member of The Digital Marketing Institute

What were your biggest challenges in trying to get back into work?

My biggest challenge was getting selected for interviews as the gap/break on my CV was long.  I believe that it put me out of the running for many positions that I knew I could do.

How did you find out about FDM and why did you decide to join?

I found FDM through a Women Returners Conference that I attended and decided to apply because they catered specifically for returners and the challenges that they sometimes encounter.

How did you find the FDM training?

The training was intensive but excellent – a really great scope of subject matters, some of which were refreshers and others that were invaluable introductions to new systems and software.

Tell us about your current role

I am currently working as a Project Manager, at the helm of a project which forms part of a high-profile, strategic Digital Customer Communications - Transformation Programme.

What’s been your favourite project so far?

This is my second project since joining FDM, so it’s difficult to pick a favourite.  They have both been excellent and the support from the FDM People Team has been absolutely superb.

How do you think your personal experiences during your career break have shaped who you are today?

During my career break I was exceptionally busy, so definitely not ‘on a break’ in terms of activity levels.  Managing childcare for 2 young children as a single parent, combined with study, exams and part time teaching was a full-time job.  So, the Project Management skills I already had served me extremely well. 

What accomplishments are you most proud of during your time with FDM? 

Learning an enormous amount during training and gaining valuable qualifications.  Building a new network of colleagues and friends within my training group.  Rapidly re-engaging with the world of consultancy and asking for the superb support of the People Team when required.

If you’re looking to restart your career in tech or business, check out one of our dedicated careers programme. The FDM Returners to Work Programme is designed to help people just like you step back into a rewarding career with exceptional training programmes to revamp your skillset, as well as work placements with our industry-leading clients.


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