Nicola, Consultant, FDM (3.5 year break)
I am a mother of four and have recently joined FDM after three and a half years of career break. I am now working as a Project Manager for an insurance company.
In my previous career I was a management consultant, specialising in project management across the UK public sector. After the birth of my fourth child, I chose not to go back to work and trained as a childminder while on my maternity leave. I then ran my own childminding business until my little one was three years old. It was then that I started thinking about going back to ‘real’ work!
It took me a while to be sure what I wanted to do on my return to work and I was concerned that I had drifted ‘out-of-date’ while I was off. I also knew that I wanted to be locally based and not have to travel away from home regularly. I started searching on LinkedIn and FDM stood out for me as it offered a supported way back into the workforce with the benefit of refresher training, plus the opportunity of gaining some new skills and qualifications. In March 2021, I joined the FDM Returners Programme after three and a half years of career break.
The FDM Returner model with training hours being from 9.30 to 4.30 was incredibly helpful to me and it allowed my children to get used to the idea that I was no longer available at all times. Also, having the training conducted fully online was very convenient for me. I didn’t have experience of working remotely, so it helped me get familiar with this way of working. However, the time in the academy was key for refreshing my skills and boosting my confidence. During my training, I also attended some of the additional events that FDM was hosting, focusing on learning new skills, improving wellbeing and socialising with colleagues, which were great to help me get used to current business language.
The FDM culture is very friendly, welcoming, tolerant and open. It’s a lovely place to be and I genuinely felt ‘at home’ from the beginning. The Returners Programme provided an excellent transition for me from my career break to the workplace. The support from the fellow returners and the FDM team were excellent.
My current role is a Project Manager, responsible for implementing a set of recommendations by external regulatory bodies. Recently I had to deliver a critical project for the business completely remotely. Bringing a team together and completing everything on time is something I am really proud of. A big part of my role is the management of complexity – I am running around 70 individual small projects and I have to find a way to effectively manage them all and co-ordinate the work across the teams.
My career break allowed me to reflect and refocus – I realised that a significant ‘golden thread’ through everything that I’ve done is trust and every day I aim towards further building and maintaining that trust. Prior to my career break I was working almost out of habit, now I do it with purpose.