This week, Emma Bowman, who works in the COO  team in Global Corporate at Lloyds Commercial Bank kindly sat down with me to discuss the merits of the Returnship. Emma  spent 15 years in investment banking as an Asian Equity sales person broking to UK and European institutions. Emma took a career break bringing up her 6 children,  during this time she also ran her own interior design and property development. When Emma’s youngest child went to full time school she decided to return to the City. When Emma started applying for roles she came up against the frustrations of algorithm-driven online job application pages which automatically reject CVs with any career gaps including maternity leave.

A friend mentioned ‘Returnships’ as a route back into the City, when she googled Returnships she discovered Women Returners, ‘a coaching, consulting and network organisation which specialises in enabling the return to work of professional women after an extended (longer than maternity) career break.’

Emma was taken on by Deutsche Bank as one of their first Returners and worked with the Global Head of FOREX Research on projects including setting up a series of TED Talks and producing a Thought Leadership magazine which was written by the brightest minds at the bank. These projects were very different to her career as an equity broker before her career break. After leaving Deutche Bank she was accepted onto the first Returnship Programme at Lloyds Bank where she joined the Global Corporate Division of the Commercial Bank. After completing the 12 week Returnship Emma started a permanent role and is now working in the COO team.

Increasingly Returnships are being adopted across the City and although there is still some way to go, Emma’s advice for women looking to return to the work place is invaluable. One of the biggest things she came up against was the lack of awareness across the bank of what the Returnship was. Emma has come up with some top tips for those considering this path back to work:

  1. Be confident you have a huge number of valuable skills to bring to the work place
  2. Dress really professionally, perception is critical!
  3. Network like a demon!
  4. Use the Returnship as a test to see whether you’re ready to go back to work.
  5. Set boundaries on Day 1 – if you want to take your kids to school, make that clear.
  6. Get a sponsor who will speak up for you at top levels.
  7. Aim high when you choose your mentor!
  8. Engage with Senior Management.
  9. Build a support network.
  10. Don’t expect your 1st job to be perfect, get your foot in the door and be patient – roles evolve.
  11. Recognise that the skills you have developed out of work are important and valuable – empathy is too often overlooked!
  12. Understand that returning to work will have a physical impact as well as a mental impact.

For more information, please go to http://womenreturners.com/

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