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Returning To Work: Tara Nelson

Case Study: Tara Nelson, Assistant Company Secretary, M&G Investments

What was the reason for your career break, and how long was your break?

After the birth of my first child I returned to a flexible arrangement but to a role where a full time commitment was needed, only this time nursery drop off and pick up were added to the pressure. So when I became pregnant again we decided that I would be a stay at home mum, which lasted for four years until our youngest started school.

Returning from a career break, what was important to you when considering a new role / company?

I had enjoyed the career I had built up over 15 years and I still wanted to use that knowledge and experience, but I had to be able to balance that with the needs of my children, so a role of four days a week was important, with the ability to work flexibly if needed.

How did you search for a new role, and how would you describe this experience?

I contacted a specialist legal recruitment agency and a well-known agency specialising in part-time work, but at that time I was also getting involved in local regeneration projects and joined Twitter to keep informed of local activities, so I also searched on Twitter for Company Secretary roles, which is where I found the M&G position.

What attracted you to M&G Investments / the investment management industry?

The role at M&G Investments was very similar to my role at another investment manager when I went on maternity leave. It was also advertised as being open to applicants who had taken a voluntary career break and that stated that the organisation was ‘happy to talk flexible working’.

How would you describe the support you received when you returned?

I was recruited through M&G’s Career Returners initiative and I was provided with a series of coaching sessions to support my return to work following an extended career break. I am hugely appreciative of the clear commitment of the business to bringing your whole self to work and maintaining a healthy work – life balance.

Has your career developed since?

Working four days has not hampered my career at M&G. I have been able to gain extra skills, and I continue to successfully support projects and achieve set work tasks within deadlines. My immediate colleagues support me as I do them.

What advice would you give to individuals considering returning to work?

My advice to others returning to work after a break is:

  1. When looking for positions consider all routes: Consultants, direct with employer, through social media, through friends/school gate parents and through Women Returners.
     
  2. Be clear on the hours/days you wish to work. Employers appreciate knowing what you can do, they can either work around it or suggest an alternative but at least they understand your requirements. Be realistic - consider whether the role will be possible on a part-time basis.
     
  3. Remember that your ‘work self’ returns pretty sharpish, so have no fear - you will not have forgotten it all!

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