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Laverne’s Story: Returning to Change and Project Management with Willis Towers Watson (part of Diversity Project cross-company programme)


Laverne, Change and Project Manager ( 5 year career break)

I spent 15 years in the Insurance industry as a Broker and Underwriter. Then I took a break to fulfil a personal dream of setting up my own coffee shop which I ran for 3 years. It was lots of fun and I learned a lot about myself, mainly that I can work hard, for a very long time without stopping! After I received a generous offer on the business, I took a well-deserved break.

During this time, I realised that I am not one for relaxing so started studying Project Management and Change Management. I really enjoyed stretching my brain in new directions and feeling a buzz again. I spent some time applying for jobs via agencies and was regularly disappointed as they didn’t understand my “portfolio career”. When I came across the advert for the Diversity Project Cross-Company Programme, I was fairly optimistic as I had been out of the corporate world for 5 years and so stood a chance at least!

The interview process was great, I met with Hazel Little before the interview and she clarified a few things and reassured me. The interview went well but I was still not sure if I had done enough and was aware that there was quite a lot of applicants. When I heard the news that I was successful I couldn’t quite understand what was being said, having prepared myself for a “no”!  I was so pleased and relieved to have been accepted, 6 months work was a great start to get me back into work. It looked like things were going well until lockdown was announced and I wasn’t sure that the programme would go ahead. Thankfully it did and I was onboarded remotely. Some days were challenging, I was attempting to home-school as well settle into my new role but my manager was sympathetic to the situation.

Having got through the 6 months I was offered a contract extension, which is perfect as I can see the Project through to completion and who knows what is next for me. I am happy to have come this far. The support from Women Returners and my cohort has been fantastic. The coaching sessions helped me tackle some of the concerns and insecurities I had in the early days. It has been great knowing other people in the same position and going through the same emotions. I am glad to be back at work, glad to be using my skills and learning new ones too.

I think that any person trying to get back into work needs to know that it may take a while and you may feel low at points, I know I did. The urge to keep going was stronger than the urge to give up in my case, I felt that I had lots to contribute and so pushed on. It worked out in the end thanks to some good luck and grit – keep going!!