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Picking up your career after children

(17 Posts)
MellieDot Wed 20-Apr-16 16:32:10

I had a fairly senior career in Management Consultancy with Andersen Consulting, but left when I had my first child. She had health issues and my husband I decided that I'd start my own business and work from home. After 18 years of monthly hospital appointments, she goes off to uni this year and I'd prefer to go back to my former career than carry on working for myself. Returning to work at a senior level after a long career break is going to be tough.......

I'd be really interested to hear from others who have tried, whether successfully or unsuccessfully. I'm planning to contact many large companies and businesses to see what strategies they have, if any, for tapping into this valuable resource. FTSE 350 company boards are still very male dominated. Perhaps this is because help, support and understanding is not commonly given to women who would otherwise have achieved directorship/partnership but for their career break? Wider life experiences, such as running your own business whilst bringing up a family and maybe being a school governor or similar, would bring another valuable perspective to the boardroom. Surely there could be a fast track route for such women?

There must be a huge numbers of highly capable women whose careers were in the ascendency who struggle at the concept of restarting at a level below their capabilities. What a waste of talent. I can imagine the frustration of reporting to someone I feel to be less capable than me. That's not based on arrogance - I know I'd need refresher training and mentoring, but I know I'd be pretty good once I was back up to speed!

Maybe some firms offer "back to senior employment" training and refresher courses in careers such as consultancy, accountancy, law, architecture etc. I plan to find out and I look forward to hearing the experiences of other.

TomTomKitten Wed 20-Apr-16 17:33:07

The world of work has changed a lot in the last eighteen years. Sorry but you sound rather arrogant in your approach of 'what are employers going to do to help me and the posse of women who stepped off the ladder?' They're going to do nothing because there are scores of other highly capable candidates with recent and relevant experience. It has nothing to do with what level of job and responsibility you think you 'deserve' but more about proving yourself and probably working under someone 'less capable'.

G1raffe Wed 20-Apr-16 17:38:12

Most people return to work under those that overtook them dont they ? I will after 8 years out, never mind 18.

FaFoutis Wed 20-Apr-16 17:40:11

I think you are being rather unrealistic too. 18 years is a long time.

Thurlow Wed 20-Apr-16 17:44:15

I understand your points, but I think 18 years is far too long out of a sector to just be able to jump back in.

pitterpatterrain Wed 20-Apr-16 17:45:51

Did you take a career break or WFH with your own business?

My perspective working in a small consultancy is that senior levels require revenue generation, and that is hard when you have to come up to speed with what is latest/greatest and build up contacts.

Perhaps something like project management with updated qualifications would be an easier "in"?

We have no fast track for anyone that I know (perhaps too small?), if you have kids and return to work pretty quickly unless you can resolve the long hours / travel issues you are going to have to slow down a bit

Bringiton2016 Wed 20-Apr-16 17:47:42

You know they have computers now? grin

ABetaDad1 Wed 20-Apr-16 17:52:47

Mellie - you frankly have no chance of just walking into a job like the one you want.

Sorry but I know women who have tried this who have been away for far shorter periods including my own DW and have failed to get anywhere after years of trying.

Everybody you used to work with is now a partner. Everybody who might recruit you is a man 10 year syounger than you and doesnt want you telling him what to do. I used to be a management consultant myself. I am a man and took a career break for 12 years. By a stroke of blind luck I got consultancy work for 18 months but it didn't last and I didn't expect it to. I work for myself in a totally different field now.

Your knowledge just isn't current anymore. You don't have the contacts. You are essentially similar to a graduate trainee with 2 - 3 year sexperience but far too expensive.

I hear what you say. I know the frustration. There is a huge waste of female talent out there. I suggest you start your own business. Not in consultancy. Do it in a different field but use your knowledge. Don't do a 'mummy hobby' business making cupcakes or selling craft stuff but a proper business.

Otherwise enjoy your retirement.

WorriedMutha Wed 20-Apr-16 18:06:32

Perhaps speak to an agency for some realistic advice about the market in your area of specialism. I was brought down to earth after a seven year gap as a qualified lawyer with several years commercial experience under my belt. I would have been fine about getting a newly qualified post but it was suggested I should offer to get work experience first as even those newly qualified can hit the ground running today. I hadn't been idle during my time at home and was self employed in an allied role.
I personally feel that the bright, able at home mum market is very over crowded. However, please don't be defeatist. If you have good business experience, think laterally and build on what you are already doing. I would just have thought that you are better doing it for yourself than entering the labour market. Too many graduates busting a gut to prove themselves and willing to work for nothing.

Notstayingup Wed 20-Apr-16 18:14:22

Saw that EY is running a back to works scheme:

Don't know what your background was but might be worth a look

MellieDot Wed 20-Apr-16 19:39:53

Thank you all for the really interesting threads. I shall continue to read threads over the coming days, but certainly acknowledge that my aspirations may be hard to achieve.

I've been a reasonably successful entrepreneur, now being of "high net worth " - so why return to consultancy? The truth is, I really enjoyed it. My more recent experience running a couple of businesses, (bringing a product to market, oversees sourcing/importing,, setting up computer systems, dealing with intellectual property issues etc) all seem relevant and highly transferable. I read recently that the MoJ are considering appointing judges from non-legal backgrounds, so returning to my profession, having actively been continuosly involved in business seems far more feasible!

I'm not suggesting that women, or indeed men, returning to the workplace have any divine right to their former seniority. However, with sufficient training and support, I fail to see why opportunities to return should be denied them.

I've also recently done the Financial Times Non-Executive Diploma, (an EdExcel level 7, ie Masters level, qualification). so I may end up looking for interesting NEDships or become a "business Angel" or mentor, but I'd like to see if all doors are shut on the Management Consulting avenue first.

TomTomKitten Wed 20-Apr-16 19:58:52

You are probably in a better position than most but do not assume that a company will want to invest time or money in training and supporting you. IME most companies want you to hit the ground running. Companies that train, support and mentor their staff are few and far between these days. You sound out of touch coming out with these sorts of comments. I would be mindful of this when talking to future employers about your expectations or you will potentially come across as entitled.

SherryRB Thu 21-Apr-16 15:39:45

I used to work for Arthur Andersen years ago ... before the two Andersens divided. Lots of the big banks and consultancy firms do run returner programmes now. The waste of talent is recognised but quite frankly not enough companies do enough about it. You might also consider organisations that are looking for your skill set and experience but don't need/want somebody full time. Companies such as Talent Gateway help women find work this way. Perhaps a portfolio career could be the way forward.

PastaLaFeasta Thu 21-Apr-16 17:05:43

You are in a better position than others. Many companies run return programmes for women but they are limited to those who left when fairly senior so 30s plus. I got pregnant at 26 in a lower position and there is nothing to help me get back to work. In fact I want to start from the bottom because I'm changing career, graduate level if I'm extremely lucky (I have a good degree from a respected university) but school leaver is fine. I'll be competing against teenagers/early 20s who have no responsibilities or other mums who are massively over qualified for the role but want to take a step down. I'm volunteering to get recent experience but trying to get relevant work experience is impossible, no one wants to help, it's too much trouble. Women do need help and understanding when juggling careers and family, firstly with good, affordable, flexible childcare. A salary just under £30k meant I'd be earning a negative income once childcare and other expenses were accounted for - in London.

InionEile Fri 22-Apr-16 20:59:43

A few corporates and banks are starting to run return-to-work schemes but it sounds like you have been your own boss for a while so you might find schemes like that restrictive as they tend to be run in a structured fashion like a graduate scheme.

I would focus on the entrepreneurial scene as you suggest - business mentoring, angel investment or just volunteering with business networks for a while to build up your contacts and then taking on advisory roles.

If you are high-net-worth and have been successful in business, I think you will honestly struggle to slot back into corporate structure where you will not be top dog (because the top dog will be a.) most likely male b.) have a SAHM who enables his career c.) has worked every minute of every day for that corporation since he joined it 20-30 years ago).

fatflaps Fri 22-Apr-16 21:04:45

I know a couple of women who have had huge successes on Deloitte's Return To Work scheme, give it a try!

Flumplet Fri 22-Apr-16 21:07:08

18 months yes definitely but 18 YEARS and expect to walk straight back in where you left off - that's bonkers. So much will have changed in 18 years, you must realise that?!

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