Two years after returning to work on the first ever EY Reconnect programme, Louise is now supporting others through their own career transitions. Here’s her take on why the returner programme works so well.
You’re welcome, whatever your story
“Like a lot of people, I came into EY Reconnect assuming it was aimed at mums, like me. But I was wrong! Men and women take career breaks for all sorts of reasons – from caring for elderly parents to doing further study – and it’s been great to see a variety of people flourish through the programme.”
You get lots of support
“Coming back to work after nine years away, I knew my skills were still there and that I had even picked new ones up during this time. But I had doubts. How would I turn these into something that’s useful at work? Would it be OK if I had to go home to care for my child?
“Fortunately, I was surrounded by people who understood what I was going through and wouldn’t hesitate to help. During one demanding project, I had some serious family issues to deal with. When I eventually asked my colleagues for help, I was amazed at how supportive they were. As a result, I now encourage others to be open and ask for help. Share what you’re going through – because you’re not alone.”
Your experiences are valued
“It’s common to think that time out from work means switching off completely. But since being back, I’ve seen that life skills gained during this time can be used at work to great effect. For me, serving as school governor and organising my sister’s wedding were fantastic lessons in motivating people and managing projects.
“I was also pleased to find that my career-break experiences have strengthened relationships with my clients. Empathy is a useful skill in this business, and having similar life experiences really helps with that, not to mention creating topics for small talk. For the team, having diverse perspectives from people at different stages of life enriches the whole EY experience.”
You’re given relevant coaching
“Coaching is a very helpful part of the Reconnect programme. It can be daunting, walking onto a client site after time away, able to confidently position yourself and your value to them. This is just the kind of thing we’d cover in group sessions, where we’d work on our personal elevator pitch, evaluate our skills, or learn how to build our networks on LinkedIn.
“Then there’s the one-on-one coaching, which you can tailor to . I used it to help me reflect on what I’d achieved during the programme and make a case for why I should stay on as a permanent team member. I found this hugely helpful.”
You’ve got nothing to lose
“Programmes like EY Reconnect are a very low-risk way to explore returning to work. They’re here to help you decide what’s right for you.
“I told myself that if the 12 weeks didn’t work out, there’s no harm done. At least I gave it a go. I wasn’t signing up to some long-term commitment. Fortunately for me, it worked out well and I was really happy to secure a permanent position at the end of the programme
You see different ways to make it work
“Once you do get into the programme, it’s so much easier to see what your options are. For me, the revelation was that flexible working doesn’t just mean taking one day off each week. From home-working, to half-days, to job-sharing; I saw people working flexibly in all sorts of different ways. EY has a very trusting, autonomous culture, which is one of the reasons it works so well.”
You meet inspiring role models (and become one yourself)
“The EY Reconnect programme doesn’t just expose you to great role models, it creates them. When I came in, I learned so much from people who had been in my position and were now thriving in their careers. I’m now privileged to be a career counsellor myself and I hope that my experiences can have a positive effect on others.
“As a society, programmes like EY Reconnect are helping to shift our view of what life can look like. Career paths can stop and start, twist and turn, and that’s OK. Whatever your journey, there’s flexibility to fit in and make your mark.”