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Returning to work: Anna Strillacci

Case Study: Anna Strillacci,Director, Bond Syndicate, Lloyds Bank

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

I took a career break as I believed that having a family was not conducive to having a successful career in finance, especially as my husband works in banking too. I was out of the industry for 5 years and in that time I had two kids.

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

During that time I realised that I very much longed for a career in finance again. I knew what that entailed, so I started thinking of ways I could make it work so that I could feel empowered in the right role but also have flexibility in the way I manage my workload.

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

I contacted a few headhunters but quickly realised that that was not the right way forward. Traditional headhunters are not equipped to place experienced people who have been out for more than 6 months into new jobs. The two ways I managed to get any traction was through networking and Returnship programmes. 

What attracted you to the industry?

Going back to work on the Syndicate desk was a very natural transition at the time, as I had done that before. Most importantly though, Lloyds has a very inclusive culture where people are encouraged to work flexibly (where possible). The culture of a company determines how easily any Returner will be able to fit in and adapt.

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

When I started at Lloyds I was very apprehensive, but they did an amazing job at introducing the Returners into the various teams. They made us feel welcomed by briefing their staff, explaining the purpose of the programme, this way making colleagues aware and part of the whole process.

We were coached by our teams and were made aware of their flexible working policy. I can truly say that the Lloyds Returnship programme helped me kick start my career and made me believe in my abilities again.

Has your career developed since?

After joining the Returnship programme at Lloyds I was made a permanent member of the Syndicate team and was offered a part-time job (4 days a week). I loved the role and the team, but I always knew deep down that one day I would move to asset management. This boost of confidence helped me gain more skills and enabled me to find a job that I really enjoy at Aberdeen Asset Management (now Aberdeen Standard Investments).

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

My advice would be to believe in yourself and to not give up. I know how hard it is and how long it takes to find the right role with the right flexibility. I would advise you to not compromise on things that are important to you. If you want part-time then make it very clear from the beginning. Returnships are a great way to get back on the career ladder, however, with the huge demand, many will not get a chance.

I would recommend to network as much as you can and to find a mentor who you respect, you trust and whose career you aspire to. I found my mentor through an acquaintance, while I was looking for a job. Without her perspective and energy I may not be where I am today.

Any other comments?

I would like to reiterate the importance of networking. When I was looking for work I found the most incredible advice from people completely unrelated to the finance industry. Through networking you also realise that you are not alone in this quest. People want to help and my motto is ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get!’.

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