Laura’s Story: Returning to Financial Services with Bank of England (5 year career break)
Prior to my career break, I had over 10 years’ experience working in various risk and regulatory roles within the financial services sector in London, Paris, and Tokyo. This included working as a regulator, for the EU as a policy maker, for an investment bank and as a management consultant.
My second child was born with a congenital disability whilst we were living in Japan and I decided to take break to focus on managing her complex caring needs and various medical interventions during the early years, as well as looking after my older child.
My career break lasted 5 years. For 4 of these, I was living in Japan, caring for my 2 young children and enjoying all that Japanese life has to offer! I relocated back to the UK in 2020. During the last year of my career break I took a part-time role as a Non-Executive within the NHS, which was both challenging and fascinating at a time when our health system was under immense pressure, during the peak of the covid pandemic.
My youngest child had settled at school and my caring responsibilities reduced somewhat, so I decided it was a good time to try re-entering the workforce on a more permanent basis. I had also missed working in the field in which I had previously spent so many years developing expertise.
The hardest thing was deciding to go back to work and mentally preparing to participate in an application and interview process after such a long time. I wanted to try to find a role that was interesting and relevant to my previous work experience but that also offered flexibility, as I still have substantial caring responsibilities (e.g. attending lots of medical appointments). Once I found a role that I thought would meet all my criteria, actually completing the application process was pretty straightforward.
I applied for the Bank of England career returner programme which is a 6-month programme with a view to offering a permanent role at the end of the scheme. This appealed to me because it allowed me to ‘trial’ being back at work and see how I could balance this with family life, with no obligation to stay after the 6-month period. The application process consisted of an application form (including CV and cover letter) and an interview.
I have really enjoyed using my ‘work brain’ again, meeting new colleagues and learning new things. The juggle of family life and work life is not always easy, but overall, I have managed to make it work!
The Bank’s career returner programme provided regular coaching sessions delivered by Women Returners, which were a great opportunity to step back from work and reflect on things. I also joined the Bank at the same time as a cohort of other career returners. This was a great help as it provided an immediate network of people in a similar position to me. We were able to share our successes and our challenges together and support each other during the transition.
Upon completing the career returner programme, I was successful in my application to be promoted to a Manager role.
I would advise anyone trying to get back to work not to underestimate yourself! Whatever you have been doing during your time out of work, you will have developed some valuable skills. Think about what these may be and try to apply them to the workplace or the role you are applying for. I was worried that my previous experience would seem irrelevant after a 5 year career break, but this wasn’t my experience at all once I started at work.