Sian, Consultant (10 year break)
From early on I had always aspired to be a Lawyer in the Corporate/ Mergers & Acquisitions space and with a lot of LA Law episodes under my belt, I pursued a Law degree at university. However, after graduation I came across the Lloyds Banking Graduate Management Scheme by chance and decided to apply. It wasn’t my plan A but I’m glad I followed my instincts as it led me to an exciting and varied career of over ten years with the organisation, where I gained a vast range of experience in Financial Services.
I worked on high-profile projects in retail and commercial banking, delivering operational improvement, business resilience programmes and transformational change projects. I had also been involved in numerous Group-wide strategic initiatives, change implementation programmes, product lifecycle projects, client journey enhancement strategies and more.
With a highly successful career behind me and a fantastic future outlook in the Financial Services industry, I took the decision to leave work and start a family, thinking that it would only last a few years. Before I knew it, 10 years had passed by!
I found my career break fulfilling on so many levels. I explored different options in terms of starting my own business and engaging in a range of activities: from getting involved in charitable causes to running a dental practice and supporting a Barristers Chambers, as well as being heavily involved in school events.
Having spent a decade away from work, other than the expected battles of a ‘returner to work’, there are those other ‘soft’ battles to win, such as regaining my confidence in a very competitive world, perfecting my CV, putting together a LinkedIn profile and many more! Then there are other factors such as the competition – I had applied to a multitude of ‘Women Returning to Work’ programmes but I had little progress and very few responses. In addition to this, Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic gave returning to work in 2020 a completely new meaning.
Through FDM I managed to secure an exciting role in Financial Services and into an area which was new to me. I can really say I was nervous and confident in equal measures. As to what I have learnt through the whole experience of preparing myself to go back into a career, is that my core skills and attributes are inherent in me and my career break has only helped me develop these further. I had to master the art of resilience, but it was worth it.
An important tip I would like to share is to take the time to analyse and understand your core skills, attributes and experience and see how that translates into your search for a new role. I was also honest with myself about what I needed to restart my career – I had to update my professional qualifications and learn how to sell myself in a competitive market place.
My advice is to start now, don’t put if off! Seek volunteering opportunities as every experience is building on your skills set. Take the time to perfect your CV and LinkedIn profile and get pitch ready. Be clear about the skills set and experience you can offer. Building a network is really important, don’t be ashamed to get in touch with old contacts, you never know where an opportunity will come from.
Think of every interview or knockback as an experience to learn from and an opportunity to continue to build on yourself.
Finally, when you do return, build a support network around you – the Returners Programme means you will be with other people in exactly the same situation as you.