Friendship forged through return-to-work programme

Harpreet Virdi and Trusha Patel talk about their experience of returning to work with the support of FDM Group, winners of this year’s Overall Top Employer Award.

Friendship at work


When Harpreet Virdi and Trusha Patel first met at an FDM Group training session they admit they didn’t like each other. That soon changed, though, and they became inseparable on the intensive seven-week training programme which aims to help returners get back to work as consultants.

Now Harpreet and Trusha are best friends and each other’s main support mechanism at work. “I’m still grateful every day for Harps’ support,” says Trusha. “We are known as a duo at FDM,” adds Harpreet.

The two women both took around a year out of their careers and were looking to restart as contractors to broaden their options. Going back into a new way of working was slightly daunting and the course exposed their strengths and weaknesses. “It does make you reflect on your choices, it makes you dig deep,” says Harpreet.

FDM understand the doubts people might have after a career break and some participants have had much longer breaks than Harpreet and Trusha. In their cohort of 10 people one person had had a 10-year break.

For this reason, FDM Group offer a two-week grace period. During that period recruits have the option of dropping out with no commitments or fees. After that period they have to make a two-year commitment.


Harpreet says there is no doubt for her that her friendship with Trusha and the support of other cohort members helped her stay the course. The course helped them get back into the mindset of work – they had to do lots of group work, prepare their cvs, go to interviews and juggle multiple tasks with fixed deadlines. It built up their confidence and encouraged them to be proactive in building relationships with account managers and in promoting their skills and experience through networking.

They had access to mentors with relevant experience who were very supportive and are still in touch with them now. “Just to know they are there if we need them is great,” says Harpreet. She adds that the entire FDM team have been a great help and ask how they are whenever they visit. “We feel valued,” they say.

Harpreet is now a business analyst in the Data Management Change team at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). Trusha is an analyst in Global Client Data Services at RBC. Harpreet joined RBC last May and moved into Data Management Change a few months later. Trusha previously worked on a Home Office project before moving to RBC in December after Harpreet told her there was a vacancy at RBC that she might be interested in.

Trusha was matched to the Home Office job as she had previously worked as a project manager in the public sector, including other government departments. Harpreet had previously worked in the finance sector, in pensions and investments before moving into project management.

Be yourself

Both women says FDM Group emphasises the need for them to be themselves as this helps them to match candidates to the right job for them. They add that if a placement comes to an end, FDM Group will place them elsewhere.

Both Harpreet and Trusha have catch-ups with FDM Group regularly and say that when they come to the end of the two-year period they have several options. They will either be able to choose to go solo, take a permanent role or continue with FDM Group as a senior consultant and they are clear that either path has its benefits. They say: “We value the opportunities provided by FDM Group and look forward to further developing our skills and careers.”


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