Have you taken several years out of your career to look after children and want to get back into the workplace? These career comeback stories may inspire you.
IRelaunch, a US-based organisation which specialises in helping professional workers get back on the career ladder, has worked with women in the UK who have taken anything from a short period out of work to 15 years or more. It works with other groups such as the Daphne Jackson Trust which offers flexible, part-time, paid Fellowships in universities and research establishments. The Fellowship schemes return science, engineering, technology and Mathematics professionals to their careers after a break of two years or more.
One woman who has benefited is Beatrice Lindsay, a research scientist who relaunched her career following a 13-year break. She began her work at Queen Mary College, University of London and the University of Surrey, then took a break to be at home with her family. When her youngest child entered school full-time, she decided to reignite her career. She contacted a colleague from Surrey who recommended she apply to the Daphne Jackson Trust. The fellowship at the University of Surrey gave her the chance to work on a challenging research project while also updating her skills and knowledge through a tailored retraining programme. Bea says: “Working on my research project with the group at Surrey will allow me to achieve my goals.”
The Trust also helps men like Dr Sami Kafala, a nuclear radiation and analytical physicist at Imperial College London, who took a five-year career break to care for his five children. He was awarded a three-year Daphne Jackson Fellowship and was able to research and retrain in medical physics, and now enjoys a related but new career.
IRelaunch has also worked with professionals in the financial sector. Mother of two Alexandra Perricone took a three-year career break after 11 years at HSBC. During her break she did some creative writing and got a business coaching qualification. She then joined Lehman Brothers to run the Graduate Training and Development Programme for the Investment Banking Division. After another short break, she worked temporarily at Moody’s Analytics delivering soft skills training before joining Sanford C. Bernstein in March 2009 as Associate Director of European Research. Her responsibilities include managing the firm’s London-based associate population, designing recruitment and development programmes and working with other senior managers in the day-to-day management.
Julianne Miles took a four-year career break after having worked for 11 years as a strategy consultant and in consumer goods strategy and marketing management in the UK, France and Australia. She says: “Although I’d always intended to return to work after maternity leave, I found the opportunities on offer involved long hours and too much travel. I had another child and ended up with a four-year career break as a full-time mother. I missed the intellectual stimulation of working and decided it was a great opportunity to retrain into psychology, a field which had always fascinated me. I studied part time for the next five years. It was a challenge to fit around young children, but I loved the subject so it was never overwhelming.”
She started doing freelance work while she was studying and after graduating took a two-day-a-week job as an MBA Career Coach at Cranfield School of Management. She then qualified as a Chartered Psychologist and has since developed a portfolio career, working at Cranfield and running her own career coaching and consulting business Career Psychologists. She says: “I specialise in helping people with career change, work life balance and returning to work after a break. I love my work and find the flexibility provides a great fit with family life.”