Hello my name is Mrinalini, I have recently returned back to work after being a stay at home mum for nearly 2 years. My company Reed Exhibitions was running a program via women returners. I would like to share my story in the hope that there may be others who would be able to benefit from my experience.
My skills and background has been in core IT implementations automating business processes in the customer relationship management, financial management and supply chain management areas. Technically I was trained in the Oracle’s Enterprise Software suite, I had the experience of having worked in the industries including (pharmaceuticals, media, manufacturing, consulting and IT services). As is well known in the IT field, the technology changes quite rapidly, and having taken a prolonged break after my second child, I found myself in the unenviable situation of having to explain why my business experience was as relevant as my technical skills and, after having worked for more than 15 years, and having gone through a few evolutions of the technology, why I was quite capable of handling any complex assignment that may come my way. Another complicating factor for me was that having two kids and a husband who was working in a high demand field, I needed to ensure that the travel factor was less demanding for me. This essentially meant that I needed to look at companies that are looking for in-house resources and limited travel. So with this burden of the background topped with the personally imposed constraints, I started the daunting task of applying for roles through job sites, friends and my networks. One of most common challenges and responses I received was my lack of recent experience, no surprises there! This was amongst the most decent of the feedbacks, other responses included the most common one of radio silence or ignored follow-ups and some straight advice on how futile my efforts were. I guess the best one was one recruiter asking me how I could even imagine getting the same salary that I had left the industry at! I had an experience where I had turned up for interview and towards the end being told that the role was being filled in by an internal candidate, that too after arranging for a private childcare.
I accidently came across the role at Reed Exhibitions from a website. Quite frankly, when I applied, I assumed that this was just one more try which will go unanswered. But to my surprise I did hear back from them and got called in for an interview. Until this time I was trying desperately for an interview but when I was offered one, I got nervous and I was in a total panic mode. As the interview date got nearer, I convinced myself that I had nothing to lose, the least I could do is to give a sincere try so I started scanning my CV thoroughly and recollecting work I had done. This helped me in putting things in perspective, recollecting complex and difficult times at work and how I worked through those. Eventually I got more confident to face the interview. I read about the company and also did some reading on the technology and tools they were using. During the interview I was nervous and stressed, but in the end it worked out well.
I joined them in mid-February, the initial few days were very stressful. After a career break it was a massive challenge to strike a balance between work and home. The initial few weeks were a shock to the system on the home front especially the kids but continuous support from my husband made things run smoothly. And, at work it was challenging to get settled in a new work culture and get used to the new environment. I have been lucky to be surrounded by people who have been helpful and supportive in my journey with Reed Exhibitions. One of the benefits I found out after joining is the welcoming nature for people in my situation. Support and advice from my Women Returners coach helped me in putting my thoughts and concerns to rest pertaining to work and home. I still feel there is a long way to go and lot of things I would like to achieve, but I am taking things slowly and building up my capabilities, confidence and knowledge for my role.
My advice to women returners is to get out and give it your best. The first steps are never easy, you will doubt yourself but in the end perseverance matters. Be it upskilling, learning new things or trying out new things. Your past experience will always come in handy and it’s just a matter of time, once you find your ground you will start bouncing back in no time.