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Lisa’s Story: Returning to Tech with Aegon

Lisa - Teams photo cropped

Lisa, Scrum Master, Aegon UK (18 year career break)

I had over 10 years’ experience working as a business analyst, IT project manager and product owner, primarily within the financial services sector in Scotland.

My career break wasn’t intentional. I had been dating my now husband long distance from Edinburgh to Tokyo, and he got a promotion if he stayed in Japan for a future three years. It had been my intention to work in Japan but language barriers, cultural differences, and ultimately the financial crisis in the late 2000’s didn’t make that possible.

In the end, my career break lasted 18 years. The first 5 were spent in Japan; I completed my MBA, went to cram school to learn Japanese for two years (the hardest academic work of my life) and finally pivoted to working as a costume designer for a professional level international theatre company. On my return to the UK in 2010 I project managed the development of my farm in Shropshire.

I had some health issues that prevented me working, and then decided to return to work post Covid once those health issues were resolved. I was quite confident I wanted to find a role in IT similar to my previous experience as that was work I enjoyed, and the increased flexibility of employers post Covid seemed to make that more possible.

I initially did some skills development coaching sessions delivered by Women Returners and sponsored by Skills Development Scotland to help get me ready to return to work.  I applied to Aegon’s Return to Tech programme as one of the first roles I applied for, so I was pretty lucky!

Aegon’s Return to Tech career returner programme, which is a 6-month programme with a view to offering a permanent role at the end of the scheme appealed to me because it allowed me to ‘trial’ being back at work and see how I could balance this with my other commitments, with no obligation to stay after the 6 month period. The application process consisted of an application form (including CV and cover letter) and an interview.

The Return to Tech programme also provided regular coaching sessions delivered by Women Returners. My cohort of other career returners also supported each other during the transition.

I am actually really surprised at how smoothly the transition back to the world of work has gone, it seems as though I have stepped back in fairly seamlessly. It’s also interesting that none of my colleagues seem to give a long career break a second thought. It’s only brought up if I mention it.

Being back to work is exciting and challenging and I am very glad I made the leap.  I had a few attempts at interviews prior to formally going via a returnship programme. I got quite dispirited at never being asked for an interview due to the career break, despite my skills being good. A returnship has offered me the flexibility and support I needed and has proved to be a really good option. I would advise anyone trying to get back to work to not give up!