Resilience Rewarded: How I Became a Project Manager in my 50s

Paul Brown
18.08.2023 Published: 18.08.23, Modified: 18.08.2023 10:08:44

‘For me the Returners Programme couldn’t have turned out any better.’

Meet Shane Gibson, a seasoned entrepreneur who ran his own business for many years before a serious illness forced him to step back. Navigating a competitive job market in his 50s, with a considerable gap on his résumé and extended absence from the corporate world proved to be an uphill battle. Despite firing off more than 200 job applications, success remained elusive. But then opportunity presented itself with FDM.

This is Shane’s journey of resilience, highlighting the obstacles many experienced professionals face and the potential for a new beginning when the right doors finally open.

Fresh opportunity

Shane joined the FDM Returners Programme in early 2021 and trained in project management. Contrary to other companies where his career break had worked against him, at FDM the Returners team welcomed it and recognised the valuable entrepreneurial experience he brought.

After successfully completing his training, he was placed as a project manager for an investment company.  

He has been leading projects to introduce SaaS (software as a service) products for the division and is now the lead on a Financial Crime remediation project.

On the job  

Shane gave us a sneak peek into what a typical day looks like in his current role…

His days start with stand-up meetings involving key legal stakeholders. This new project centres around organisational and political strategies.

‘I’m trying to get sub-divisions to essentially do work they don’t want to!’

The new role is a shift from his previous involvement in software projects, where he not only managed project elements but also contributed to initial process discovery—a task he found valuable. As projects advanced, he actively engaged in testing procedures.

FDM Learnings

We asked Shane about his top learnings and takeaways from the FDM training that he’s using in his current role. He mentioned a particularly useful lesson at the start of his application process. He was tasked to do a presentation on a failing bank in Northeast England. The presentation had a 5-minute limit, while his initial draft ran 12 minutes long. Learning to condense and deliver with focused PowerPoint slides was something he learnt during his FDM training.  

‘This has been a real winner and something I wish every colleague would do.’

The return to work

So, how was it getting back to work after an extended time away?

For Shane, the return wasn’t very challenging. However, having been his own boss for so many years and away from the corporate environment, he had to adapt to the different nuances in language and behaviour.

‘Communication in the 2020s differs greatly from the 1990s.’

Managing childcare

As a working dad, Shane is grateful for the option of flexible working that allows him to manage his workload and childcare duties.  

From 200 rejected applications to a successful career as a project manager for a prestigious investment company, Shane’s come a long way. He had the skills and the experience. FDM helped identify them.

We can help you too.

Over 370 people have restarted their careers with the FDM Returners Programme since 2014. Whatever your reasons for a career break, our dedicated Returners team ensure that you have a seamless return to work. From CV and interview preps to expert training, designed to refresh your existing skills and equip you with industry-recognised qualifications – our Returners Programme builds you up for success. Work with our prestigious clients across business and tech in an exciting career that you deserve.

Attend one of our Open Mornings to find out more.