Paul, Competition Policy Manager, Ofcom (7 year break)
After graduating in Law, I worked for 12 years in corporate tax and tax technology at a ‘big four’ accounting and professional services firm, managing and developing software solutions. This gave me experience of project management and working in a regulated environment.
I originally took time out of my career with the intention of studying full-time towards a maths degree, but I was away from work longer than anticipated because of caring responsibilities arising from family illness.
I always had an interest in public service and I found a returnship vacancy advertised through Women Returners for competition policy managers at Ofcom. Although this was a new direction for my career, my interests, skills and experience were a good match for the job description and throughout the application and joining process I was made to feel valued and welcomed by Ofcom.
My experience of the returnship programme was a hugely positive one. My senior managers and line manager really took the time to be supportive and recognise the needs of someone re-joining the workplace after an extended break. They put in place measures to support me in the first few months, appointing a mentor and a buddy and selecting appropriate projects for me to work on. There was also a commitment from the organisation to enable me and my fellow returners to meet together regularly as a group to support each other and attend the coaching sessions provided by Women Returners.
It was a challenge to rediscover my professional identity and change direction after a long career break, but the support of Ofcom and the Women Returners organisation was really valuable in establishing myself in my new role and building my confidence. It does take time, but I have found it a hugely enjoyable challenge and after the initial few months you find yourself forgetting to even mention that you were a career returner.
Returners have so much to offer in terms of skills, experience, and enthusiasm and it is really encouraging to see so many organisations start to recognise this and develop their own programmes to recruit and support returners, particularly with the excellent guidance of Women Returners.