Guilt. Anxiety. Self-doubt. Having to prove yourself all over again. Not being 100% au fait with changes that have taken place in the industry. Feeling compelled to re-enter the workforce in a more junior position. Not having flexibility to be at children’s events. These are some of the fears that hold many professional women back from returning to work. An ICAEW member who has had an extremely positive return to work is ACA Charlotte Blyton.
I took maternity leave after my children were born and decided to take a career break three and a half years ago. Last year, as my youngest was entering school, I began considering returning to work. My first stop was attending an ICAEW Comeback Community event with Women Returners focused on regaining your professional identity. It was here where I heard about Deloitte’s return-to-work programme. The rest, as they say, is history.
I had thought that I might need to take a step down, but the whole point of the programme is that it encourages you to come back at the same level. It was also great to meet other women like me, to have some support – for example, my CV was totally out of date – and just attending the insight day was inspiring and gave me a massive boost in confidence. After a 12 week internship in tax, with a buddy and mentor to help me work out what sort of permanent role I might suit, I now work supporting Deloitte’s tax offering to clients.
The key for me is to have the opportunity to be challenged, to keep learning and growing – but also maintain flexibility to devote time to my family and other interests. I work a four-day week and while I am based in the London office, I only do the three-hour commute twice a week. I work from the Reading office on the other two days. A lot of my work involves consulting with global colleagues and Skype means I can connect with them wherever I am. The emphasis at Deloitte is on output, not presenteeism and I find that when I am in the office I am completely focussed and have learnt to be more efficient with my time.
If you had spoken to me this time last year, I never would have believed I would be in the position I am in now. Since enrolling on the programme, I’ve moved teams and even report into one of the programme mentors. I am firmly back in the saddle and contributing to the business.