Pregnant and promoted: the importance of enabling talent to thrive

Eline Peeters not only moved role while she was pregnant, but also took part in a six-month programme for mid-level female candidates who want to progress to the next level.

Career Progression


She says Bank of America Merrill Lynch – which won’s 2017 Top Employer Award for Career Progression – has supported her throughout and that the leadership programme gave her access to other working mums at the bank who provided her with valuable advice for her return to work.

Eline has worked for the bank for nine years since she graduated, starting at its Antwerp branch. In 2013 she moved to London where she started as a Treasury Sales Analyst in Global Financial Transaction Services supporting the Western European sales team. Two years later a treasury sales officer (TSO) role became available in Amsterdam and she grabbed the opportunity.

She was interviewed for the role in December, but discovered in early January that she was pregnant. She says: “I was very scared as I had no idea if it would have any effect on my candidature for the TSO role.”

As soon as she has had her first scan she told her manager. “I have an amazing and supportive manager yet, this was honestly one of the scariest things I have had to do in the time I had been with the bank,” she states.

“I remember sitting in his office, crying (probably also the hormones), telling him I was pregnant. His reaction was amazing and immediately made me realise my ‘fears’ were totally uncalled for.”

A few weeks later he told Eline that she was the preferred candidate for the TSO role. She was also told that she could choose whether to start the role in London so she could take her maternity leave in the UK and move to Amsterdam later.

Return to work

After a lot of discussions with her husband, she decided to move back to the continent before her maternity leave began. Her husband had a job in the family business in Belgium where the couple are from. The couple decided to base themselves in Belgium near their families and because Eline’s role involved travelling around the Benelux countries.

Eline returned to work in January and found the first weeks back challenging, as many mums do. She says: “The main challenge I find being a working mum is the travelling and evening commitments as that means I need to lean a lot more on my mum and mother-in-law in order to help my husband out.”

However, she has some flexibility when she is not seeing clients and in the Amsterdam office and can start early and pick up her daughter from childcare. If she needs to, she can log back on later. In 2017, while she was pregnant, Eline went on BoAML’s Pathways to Progression programme for mid-level women who are looking to take the next rung up the career ladder and says she received a lot of reassurance from other working mums on the programme.

“They make me feel that I am not alone and that things will get easier,” she says. “I also have a phenomenal mentor who is a working mum and has a very successful role within the bank. It is great to learn from her.

I know I am very fortunate with having such a supportive manager, employer and colleagues because I can combine a job I Iove with having a great family, which gives me a lot of energy!”

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