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Returning to work: Véronique Chapplow

Case Study: Véronique Chapplow, Investment Specialist, M&G Investments

VÉRONIQUE CHAPPLOW

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

Looking after my young family was the main reason for the break. I have four beautiful children aged ten to fourteen who are the biggest achievement of my life.  I went back to work at the earliest opportunity when my youngest twins turned two. At the time, I was desperate to return as quickly as possible for fear of not finding employment again. In retrospect, I went back too soon and ended up having to take a second break. My eldest two sons are at secondary school now and life in general has become a lot easier. My second break also gave me the opportunity to volunteer as governor for the school of my youngest son, who is autistic and suffers from severe learning and eating difficulties.  I’m very grateful I could give something back to a remarkable state institution that’s providing my son care adapted to his needs and that’s effectively allowed me to return to work.

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

The clinching factor for me was people. I am a people person and I was determined to join a team of enthusiastic yet approachable professionals who did not take themselves too seriously. The interviewing process was extremely thorough, and by the end of it, I had built a pretty good picture of what it would be like to work at M&G. I liked that picture and I have not looked back.  

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

I wasn’t sure where to start and I decided to seek the services of a career coach who offered me a couple of free sessions in return for some consultancy work. The coaching process was great for giving me the little boost I needed to reconnect with my contacts. It also helped me structure my work search. In the end, I heard about my current role through an old contact whom I bumped into by accident. By then, I was pretty advanced in my job search and mentally ready for the grilling interviewing process that followed.

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

More than anything I was attracted by the calibre of people I would be working with. Aside from members from my future team, I knew a number of M&G employees from previous work experiences: these were people I held in high regard and definitively influenced my interest.  M&G’s investment principles were also a big consideration: I liked the notion of being part of an organisation that valued creativity, conviction, focus and consistency. Finally, I was drawn by the ‘boutique’ atmosphere that M&G has clearly manged to retain.

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

I have frankly been amazed by how much support I’ve received: from new colleagues who went out of their way to welcome me when I started, to training opportunities, to the offer of coaching sessions. I can honestly say that this is the first time in my entire career that I have been so well looked after.    

Has your career developed since?

Time has flown by and I can’t believe it has been ten months since I returned. I feel very settled and I have been pleasantly surprised by the range of opportunities that have arisen outside the scope of my daily responsibilities. I’ve been able to participate in innovative projects such as this one, with the added bonus of lengthening my list of M&G colleagues. 

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

If I have done it, anyone can do it. I genuinely believe that 90% is about one’s mental attitude and having the confidence to re-engage one’s network. The prospect is daunting at first but it’s amazing how quickly you return into full work mode and your anxieties disappear. My only piece of advice would be not to rush (I made that mistake once) and determine how much time you can reasonably commit to a new job without compromising your current equilibrium. In my experience, it is easy to overstretch oneself and something I’d like to think I have become better at recently.  

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