Mum, wife, fitness fan, finance professional, and now Returner. Spent most of my career in Investment Management, in product development and project management, before deciding to have some time out. During that break travelled the world as a family for 6 months experiencing the New England Fall, beaches of Hawaii and life on the road in New Zealand and Australia. My two young girls’ independent personalities are reflected in their fancy dress choice - Spiderman vs. Elsa. I have always believed I could be, or achieve, anything; my job now is that they go out into the world with the same attitude.
- Katie Nyemecz
The work handbag has been dusted down and refilled (hairbrush, lippy, packet of sweets for sugar lows – all the important things). The shoes have been polished, feet to be squeezed in tomorrow after too much Converse wearing (key element of the mum uniform). Outfit has nearly been chosen. And I will be off. Back to work after an 18 month break.
18 months may not sound that long and it still feels like yesterday that I was at work in my old firm. However, I was there for 10 years. The comfort factor had definitely honed itself and since leaving I have spent 6 months travelling round the world with my husband and two then pre-school children, and subsequently started the children at school and nursery, so those 18 months feel like a very long time indeed.
I started thinking about going back to work about four months ago.
Much as I was loving doing the school run, I could feel my conversation shrinking around me, and a quick flick through my social media showed an unhealthy obsession with mum blogs....not that there is anything wrong with any of this but I started to feel the need to re-find that other me.
The me who dressed smartly, drew up plans on Excel, wrote presentations, chaired meetings....went to the loo on her own. A forwarded press release from a recruitment friend led me to the Return Hub. An initial meeting introduced me to their inaugural returnship programme and now I am 12 hours away from starting a new Returners programme at Redington.
I’m going to be doing a project management role working with the management team. Having spent the last 18 months managing my family’s and friends’ lives to the nth degree, I’m hoping these skills will transfer smoothly back to the office.
I received a pack of information to digest before my start date.....all very useful but the stand out detail - I, along with the other returners, was already on the org chart, a first for a new joiner if ever there was! I already felt like part of the firm before even walking through the front door (this may have been my nervousness expressing itself as over confidence!).
I am looking forward to starting tomorrow but definitely with a sense of trepidation.
Having spent so long at my last firm, I knew, in 90% of cases, where I was going to source the answer to a question, who would be the best person to speak to with a query, how to manage my workload. Starting afresh means learning all this again, will I be any good at it, will I make mistakes along the way, will I be a success? And most importantly, where am I going to find the best sushi for lunch?
Day 1 done, and I survived.
Getting the tube actually wasn’t too unpleasant, but note to self must start downloading some podcasts to listen to on the way in when space for reading is at a premium. Having got used to filling every minute of every day with lots of tasks (there is always something to do at home!), I felt like I had ‘wasted’ my commuting time today by ‘just’ travelling.
When I started considering returning to work and researching companies and looking at financial news websites, I felt excited to again to have an understanding and awareness of the financial world, which if I’m honest I had largely ignored since being at home with the children. This commuting time strikes me as a perfect opportunity for some extra-curricular reading.
My first day was timed nicely with Redington’s quarterly town hall, a great opportunity to hear how the firm’s doing, what it’s planning to do in the future and to get some more detail on key initiatives. In what is certainly a record, my phone and computer access were all set up by lunchtime.
I walked part of the floor, met lots of new faces (which with the help of an org chart, floor plan and pictures on the website I am starting to match up with names!) and got an initial feeling for the company. It’s certainly very different from the big corporates I have previously experienced.
No individual offices, management in with everyone else, and a quietness that I’ve certainly not seen before in big open plan floors! Everyone is getting on with the job in hand it seems.
I left for the day looking forward to returning tomorrow.
Finished my first week feeling positive.
I have already got a feel for the type of work which will be useful for me to undertake during my time here, and I have met lots of the key people across the business who I will be working with. I have really just taken the initiative and started working in the manner I think will be useful. A check-in with my line manager at the end of the week makes me think I’m going in the right direction. It is such a different business here to anything I have worked in previously.
I have started downloading TED talks and Podcasts each night for the commute, not quite the extension of work I had planned, more TED talks which should help in my approach to work and Radio 4 downloads for current affairs discussions, which make the journey fly (must remember not to laugh out loud on the tube….).
The work/life balance seems to have gone ok this week, with the children settling into their new routine as much as I have to settle into mine. I’m looking forward to spending time with them this weekend and having some family time.
Week 2 - Less successful start…
After the highs of last week, it all came crashing down before 8am on my second Monday morning.
A sick emotional child meant leaving late (and feeling torn between work and family commitments), coupled with a train station closure resulting in an unscheduled walk to the tube (in inappropriate footwear) topped off with getting my heel stuck in a manhole cover….definitely a morning to start questioning why I am doing this….
However, I made it into the office with mood improved (thanks to listening to some amusing and insightful TED talks during my journey) and into a jammed pack day of meetings and it all started to make sense again.
I have done lots of talking and thinking this week. It has been great to put my mind to problem solving again, thinking about what has to be achieved and the steps to get to success. Everyone has been really helpful and people seem to have just accepted me as another new member of staff, appearing genuinely interested in my opinion.
My big fear on starting this programme was that I wouldn’t have anything to add, that my time out would have rendered that part of my brain obsolete, as it has sometimes felt in conversations since taking time out.
It turns out it had just gone to sleep for a bit, an elongated power nap if you want, as it appears to have truly awoken this week. Yes it has taken me a little bit of searching to remember how to use the slightly more advanced parts of Excel and Powerpoint again but once you’ve re-discovered a piece of information, it seems to stick. And the benefit of age (I’m not that old I keep telling myself but slightly older than the people sitting around me) is that I don’t mind asking. If I don’t know something, or can’t find something, and Google can’t help me, I find someone who does.
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