Christine, Sustainable Investing Analyst (10+ year career break)
My career break spanned over ten years. I left financial services when our children were little, and my husband’s job moved us to Hong Kong. I loved having that opportunity to focus on the family and not ‘having’ to work. But over time, I found myself – somewhat to my surprise! – yearning for a full time return to the professional environment: to have that structure, collegial environment and intellectual stimulation.
I feel incredibly fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time, in terms of being hired by Fidelity International in the Sustainable Investing team. That said, it’s not pure luck, as a lot of work has gone into developing returner programmes, by dedicated groups such as Women Returners and the Diversity Project. Firms such as Fidelity International have made an amazing commitment to provide deep and broad support from the very top to ensure that people brought in through such programmes have the greatest chances of being successful – and they view this as success for their own firms as well.
Additionally, when I explored returning to professional employment, I worked hard to understand how my myriad of experiences, both in my previous career and during my significant career break, could translate to current potential employment opportunities. I believe that best outcomes are probably achieved when a fit is found between an individual’s capabilities (be they specific and/or transferable from other contexts) and a firm’s needs, especially in growth areas, as these are most likely to convert to permanent roles following a returnship-type of programme.
Of course, there are some bumps or wrinkles along the ‘return to work’ path.
I would say for me the hardest thing was that Covid prevented us from returning to the actual workplace as most of us would have liked to do. All things considered, it went very smoothly, but nothing can fully replace some of the on-the-job learnings that occur in an in-person environment.
I would encourage anyone returning to work to have patience and determination, and to believe in your abilities in having something to offer. Your return path may not be immediately clear, but there are great opportunities out there and many people hoping you will succeed and helping you to do so!