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Melissa’s Story: Returning to Law at Bank of England

Melissa J 500 x 500

In 2014, my career path took an unexpected detour. Sometimes a detour is expected and planned for and other times the detour is a complete surprise. Let’s just say, I was ‘completely surprised.’ My husband received a promotion and we were completely thrilled! However, that promotion meant uprooting our family from NYC and relocating them to London. At that time, I was managing my law firm, which I planned to close. We had 3 young children at the time and I knew that I wanted to be available to them as we got them settled into new schools, new house, and a new country.

I greatly enjoyed my time at home with my children, going to play groups, school runs, swim lessons, football training, dance classes etc . I volunteered often. I wanted to keep busy. But, my passion was in the law. I had always planned to return to work once the youngest child was settled into school.

My career break was meant to be 2-3 years, but it lasted 5 years. During, the last 2 years I began searching for work but I found it challenging. I wanted a job where I felt I could have work-life balance. I had a few interviews, and even attended networking events and workshops, but nothing materialized. I felt I had transferable skills to offer an employer but I wondered whether they could see past my career break. I had prior experience in government and previously worked for a global bank as an Assistant General Counsel. I applied for many positions, just to get my foot back in the door. However, after countless rejections, I began to feel discouraged.

One day, a friend told me about the Women Returners’ website. The Women Returners’ vision for women wanting to return to work after a career break was such a welcomed perspective. On the website, I noticed the Bank of England Career Returner job opportunity, along with many other opportunities for returners. The feedback in my immediate circle of friends was that the Bank of England was an employer that truly supported flexible working. I applied and was selected for an interview. The next thing I remembered was the overwhelming feeling of gratitude and excitement when I received an offer. My detour away from work was rewarding and I was blessed to have that time with my children. But, I was ready to return to work and eager to continue my legal career.

I commend the Bank of England for supporting all returners. Not only did I have this wonderful job offer, but I also had the support to help with the transition. When I showed up for my initial induction day with the programme, I met other people who were returning from their career breaks for various reasons. The programme offered periodic coaching sessions for all of us, together, over a period of months.  It was a very special network within the bank of highly skilled and motivated professionals. Every time we met, the Returner coaches (Kate and Karen) would discuss a range of topics focused on personal development. We also laughed and we shared moments of encouragement and growth.

Now that I have been back at work for six months, I can tell you it has been absolutely amazing. I remain excited and enthusiastic about my future and I look forward to contributing at work. I was able to set a working pattern that worked for my family so as to minimize any disruption to my family’s schedule. I feel confident, challenged and full of hope. While I acknowledge, not everyone’s story is the same, I know my journey would not have been the same without the support of the Women Returners’ Programme and the Bank of England. A word of advice I would offer to other women in my position is: not to settle, be patient and remain proactive in your search. The Women Returners’ programme has proven that you can successfully return to work in the right role and with the right support.