Vijyeta Gaur-Tripathi talks about her return to a corporate career after 10 years out thanks to Capgemini and about how her ambition is undimmed.
Vijyeta Gaur-Tripathi spent 10 years out of corporate life when she realised, despite all her efforts, that a senior full-time job in a fast-paced sector and having the main responsibility for two small children was burning her out.
She has faced several knock-backs trying to get back to work, but, thanks to Capgemini’s Relaunch programme and despite the pandemic, she is now back on track and feels very much motivated to succeed. However, she has had to switch her career around to do so.
Vijyeta’s background is in marketing and business development. Ten years ago she was working in digital marketing for a leading company, in charge of stakeholder management.
She was very ambitious and took very short maternity leave periods when her two children, now aged 15 and 11, were born, returning full time. However, when her son was around three years old she realised she was struggling with keeping all the various plates in the air. The nursery her son was at was near her office so all the childcare responsibilities fell on her. In a department of 16 people, she was the only one with children and she felt no-one understood the pressure she was under. She tried to move to a four-day week to get a breather, but says her role was not designed for a job share because she was so actively involved with relationship management with clients.
“I tried to keep going for as long as I could,” she says, “but I was nearing physical and emotional burnout. I have always been very ambitious and I didn’t know what to do.” She didn’t want to stop working and she knew she would get bored without some kind of challenge.
So Vijyeta decided to take time out of her corporate career and run an after-school yoga franchise for children. That turned out to be more stressful than she had anticipated as she had to travel between different schools at times when school traffic was high. Vijyeta ran the classes with another teacher for two years until her colleague sadly died of cancer.
She took a complete break after that, but she was still thinking about what she could do work-wise. She considered many different options such as teacher training, but felt it wasn’t family friendly enough when her children were young. ”Nothing clicked,” she says. She got involved with voluntary work, doing the finances for her local beavers club and helping a young carers group with a funding application. “I couldn’t sit at home completely,” she says.
In late 2018, however, she decided she wanted to get back to her career. Having been at the top of her field in digital marketing, she felt that, although there had been huge changes in her sector, the fundamentals of the job would be the same. She started applying for similar jobs to the one she had last held. She found the experience very deflating. She would be interviewed, for instance, by people with much less experience than her. The feedback she got was that they knew she could do the job, but had found someone “more suitable” which she took to mean someone younger. This went on for about a year until a friend suggested she change her approach and try looking for roles in her other specialism, IT.
In 2020 the pandemic hit the UK and the country went into lockdown. Vijyeta, however, used the time to study and gain agile practitioner status by teaching herself project management skills using online tutorials. She also joined a return to work forum and linked up with people like her who were desperate to get back to the corporate world and use their skills.
Through LinkedIn she had seen a project management role at Capgemini. She applied and went through four rounds of interviews successfully. She was due to start in March 2020, but the job was shelved due to the pandemic. It was back to square one. Then Vijyeta heard about Capgemini’s Relaunch programme for returners – there was a returner role as a Project Management Analyst which was similar to the role which was shelved but in a different business area, focusing exclusively on managing HMRC’s text messages.
She joined in March this year and has still not met any of her colleagues face to face. However, she says there is a strong feeling of belonging and an excellent work culture with lots of support for returners. “It’s like a dream come true,” she says. “They don’t just pay lip service to supporting returners. They live and breathe what they say on paper.”
Vijyeta describes the support offered on the returner programme as “sisterly”. “They put you at your ease in the first call. They are very approachable and tell you to ask for any help you need,” she says.
In the initial three months, there was an induction meeting, meetings with the support team twice a month, access to support from the returner programme managers at any time and regular meetings with an independent reviewer. Returners on the programme also help support each other and have mentors. For the first six months returners have access to an external coach for 1.5 hours a month and they can speak candidly to them.
Viyjeta’s role is full time from home. She has had to learn all Capgemini’s systems through online training. Over the first few months she has built up a good rapport with her team members so she can feel confident about reaching out for help and she has also been able to shadow people.
Vijyeta says she has put her heart and soul into making her relaunch work and is already thinking ahead, ensuring she is visible both inside and outside her team. She has volunteered to do anti-racist mentoring and is involved in active inclusion initiatives. The returners network also helps her to find out about other areas of the business since they are scattered across different areas. Vijyeta anticipates working one day a week in the office in due course and is looking forward to meeting colleagues face to face, getting dressed up for work again and having some ‘me time’.
Her children are very supportive of her return and have got into the new family schedule. Her daughter sent her a Mother’s Day card saying how proud she is of her mum. Viyjeta says she feels very motivated to progress, but needs to build solid foundations first. She has a career development plan in place and is keen to get into a leadership role, but she is approaching that in a realistic way. “It feels like a rebirth,” she says. “I’m really excited and I cannot thank Capgemini enough.”
*WM People, workingmums.co.uk’s umbrella group, is holding a returners roundtable today for employers to share what they are doing. We will be publishing a white paper on the event in the next fortnight so look out for a copy on our events page here.