What was your education and role prior to taking a career break?
From early on I had always aspired to be a Lawyer in the Corporate/ Mergers & Acquisitions space and with a lot of LA Law episodes under my belt, I pursued a Law degree at university. However, after graduation I came across the Lloyds Banking Graduate Management Scheme by chance and decided to apply. It wasn’t my plan A but I’m glad I followed my instincts as it led me to an exciting and varied career of over ten years with the organisation, where I gained a vast range of experience in Financial Services.
I worked on high-profile projects in retail and commercial banking, delivering operational improvement, business resilience programmes and transformational change projects. I had also been involved in numerous Group-wide strategic initiatives, change implementation programmes,
product lifecycle projects, client journey enhancement strategies and more.
Tell us more about your career break
With a highly successful career behind me and a fantastic future outlook in the Financial Services industry, I took the decision to leave work and start a family, thinking that it would only last a few years. Before I knew it, ten years had passed by!
I found my career break fulfilling on so many levels. I explored different options in terms of starting my own business and engaging in a range of activities: from getting involved in charitable causes to running a dental practice and supporting a Barristers Chambers, as well as being heavily involved in school events.
Did you face any challenges when you decided to return to work?
Having spent a decade away from work, other than the expected battles of a ‘returner to work’, there are those other ‘soft’ battles to win, such as regaining my confidence in a very competitive world, perfecting my CV, putting together a LinkedIn profile and many more! Then there are other factors such as the competition - I had applied to a multitude of ‘Women Returning to Work’ programmes but I had little progress and very few responses. In addition to this, Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic gave returning to work in 2020 a completely new meaning.
What was your experience during your time with FDM and re-joining the workforce?
Through FDM I managed to secure an exciting role in Financial Services and into an area which was new to me. I can really say I was nervous and confident in equal measures. As to what I have learnt through the whole experience of preparing myself to go back into a career, is that my core skills and attributes are inherent in me and my career break has only helped me develop these further. I had to master the art of resilience, but it was worth it.
An important tip I would like to share is to take the time to analyse and understand your core skills, attributes and experience and see how that translates into your search for a new role. I was also honest with myself about what I needed to restart my career - I had to update my professional qualifications and learn how to sell myself in a competitive market place.
What are your top tips for those looking to return to the workplace?
- Start now, don’t put if off
- Seek volunteering opportunities as every experience is building on your skill set
- Perfect your CV and LinkedIn profile
- Build your network and don’t be ashamed to get in touch with old contacts, you never know where an opportunity will come from
- Get your pitch ready
- Build a support network around you – the Returners Programme means you will be with other people in exactly the same situation as you
- Be clear about the skills set and experience you can offer
- Think of every interview or knockback as an experience to learn from and an opportunity to continue to build on yourself