Returning to work after a career break ‘feels like coming home’

Eve Merckaert talks about getting back on the career path after an 11-year gap through UBS’ award-winning Career Comeback programme.

returning to work after a career break


Eve Merckaert took 11 years out of her career in financial services, but thanks to a unique returner programme run by UBS she is now back in a related career and loving it.

Before her career break Eve had been working in investment banking in New York and London for 14 years, helping corporate clients with their financing and hedging needs.

The job was full time 24/7 and involved travelling two or three times a week. In 2005 her daughter was born and by 2007 she decided she wanted to spend more time with her daughter.

She took a sabbatical, thinking she would return to work soon after, but then the financial crisis hit so she decided to extend her break.

Eve then had twins, meaning at one point she had three children under three. “My focus was elsewhere,” she says. Her short break turned into an 11-year one.

During that time, however, she stayed up to date with the financial world, worked as a treasurer of an association that raises money for charity for two years, researched where she could take her career next and decided that wealth management was a logical move.

So she did a master’s in wealth management at the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment. “I always intended to return to work and I felt wealth management was a natural follow-on to what I was doing before – instead of working with corporate clients, I would be working with personal clients. The relationship aspect appealed to me,” she says.

A clear career path

UBS is the world’s biggest wealth manager, but Eve was not aware of its Career Comeback programme when she was introduced to the firm’s head of wealth management for the UK and Jersey through a contact.

She told her about the programme and she went along to an introduction day where she met people from different areas of the bank.

The Career Comeback programme, which won the 2018 Best for Returners Award, operates in a different way to many returner initiatives. Returners apply for a regular post, but receive additional support to make the transition back to work.

“There is a clear path,” says Eve. “It’s like moving into a regular job. You have a line manager, a positive purpose and a defined career path.  There is no ambiguity about internship or traineeships. For me it was the best recipe for success.”

She adds that the Career Comeback team are very efficient and supportive, providing a good structure for returners, including a short onboarding programme.

That programme provides returners with an introduction to the bank and access to senior managers, ongoing networking opportunities, coaching, a mentor and an active sponsor.

Coming home

Eve started the onboarding at the end of September and was in position as a client adviser on the UK wealth management team in early October.

She was not nervous about returning after such a long break because she knew she had the necessary skills, had stayed connected to the market and her master’s had allowed her to be up and running quickly as well as demonstrating her level of commitment to wealth management.

“I’ve always loved new challenges,” she says, “and I enjoyed coming back. It felt like I was coming home.”

She adds that many of her cohort had held very senior positions and had a lot of experience to offer UBS. “We have lived through very interesting times in banking and have seen a lot that many people working in banking today have not. We bring a fresh viewpoint and tend to be very motivated,” she says.

Eve, whose eldest daughter is now 13 and whose twins are 10, works full time, but as she works with domestic clients, she doesn’t have the same travel commitments as when she worked in investment banking. She says UBS is very flexible which means her work life balance is very manageable.

She is also able to draw on support from her Career Comeback cohort. They still have regular coaching sessions and meet-ups. “It has been a very positive experience and I am really enjoying it,” she says.

“It’s a new career, but similar to what I was doing before. I have always loved working in finance. I enjoy the pace and the challenge. I’m right where I want to be.”

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