Victoria, Senior Project Manager (5 year break)
I returned to work as a Senior Project Manager at Allianz Insurance in Guildford after a 5 year career break. I work with different areas of the business to deliver any changes they need. These changes might be process improvements, technology changes, regulatory changes etc. I am responsible for planning these projects and making sure they are delivered. The successful delivery of change projects helps to improve the business and allows us to move forward as an organisation, so it feels important.
I have been able to bring skills from my previous career, as well as time with my family, to the role. I have about 12 years of project management and business change experience in both financial services and other industries. In addition I started life as an insurance broker, part of which involved gaining my ACII qualification, so I have an understanding of the insurance industry, which has been useful. Returning to work after 5 years of looking after my children I find that I am great at multi-tasking, more patient with stakeholders and have a lot more stamina!
It has actually been easier to return to work than I expected. I was really worried about juggling the logistics of school runs and getting to work on time. Allianz agreed to flexible working hours that suit my daily routine so the logistics have not been too difficult. Being a mum of 2 small children is exhausted both physically and emotionally. Work in comparison is relatively calm and ordered…and I get to sit down. There are times when the demands of work mean that I have to juggle things, but this has only been for short periods of time. I was surprised at how quickly my past experience came back to me even though some things were a bit rusty.
Allianz has given me excellent support since joining. We were given a great “career returners” coach from Women Returners who helped us settle back into work and was a confidential sounding board for the first 6 months. We were enrolled in a comprehensive training programme which helped us to understand more about Allianz as well as polish our skills. Allianz has been very understanding of family commitments. My son caught chicken pox the day before I started work. I had to phone my new line manager and say that I may not be in on day one. Her response was “of course that is absolutely fine, family comes first”.
The highlight of returning to work has been realising that I can still do it! I have loved using my brain, engaging with a range of interesting people and feeling that I can make a contribution.
I definitely think other businesses should be considering programmes like this. There is a wealth of untapped talent looking for the support of a programme like this to help them back into the workplace.
The advice I would give someone considering a return to work is: Don’t think about why you can’t do it, just ask for what you want – it is likely that you will be able to reach an arrangement that suits everyone.