Skip to content

Credit Suisse Real Returns: Q&A with a Returner

As the
application deadline for the 2015 Credit Suisse London Real Returns programme
approaches next Friday, Julianne interviewed Julia Dawson, a 2014 Real Returns
participant to find out more about her experiences and to get her advice on
applying for and making the most of a returnship. 
prompted you to apply for Real Returns?
I had
read about returnships in the United States and so knew about the concept. I
had been on a career break to raise a family for over three years and was
interested in going back into banking but not into equity sales where I had
spent the previous 11 years. The Real Returns programme at Credit Suisse seemed
to open up new opportunities, allowing me to apply my skills and experience to a
different area.
What were
the benefits to you of the Real Returns programme?
programme offered an open door back to banking with no downside and great
potential upside. The 10-week framework structured around the school terms
allowed me to trial a return to the workplace without too much disruption to my family
routines. It was an easier transition than going straight back into a
permanent role and gave me the opportunity to really show what I could
Returns gave me a lot of confidence – it was fantastic to see so many capable
women finding their feet. The peer group was a really positive aspect, as we were all in it together. There was more
involvement from very senior management than you might think – you get amazing
access as everyone was interested in finding out more about the inaugural Real
Returns cohort.
What type
of work did you do?
I led a
research project on diversity, The Credit Suisse Gender 3000, a subject that
remains very relevant and incredibly interesting. [Julia’s research report was
published in September 2014 and can be viewed here]. All the
participants were involved with business critical projects and made a
significant contribution.
support did you receive?
We had
support from the programme managers throughout the 10 weeks. In addition, each returner
was assigned a mentor – a great point-person for introductions, particularly
for people looking more broadly within the bank for opportunities. We also received
training and career coaching, which I was initially sceptical about but found
extremely rewarding and eye-opening on a personal and professional level.
happened at the end of the programme?
I was
offered a full-time job in equity research within the Thematics team. I was appointed as a Managing Director, the same level as I was prior to my career
break, so I have not had to take a step down in my career progression
at all.
advice would you give to potential applicants to Real Returns or other
Be honest
about who you are in your application and get your application in as soon as possible – you have nothing to lose
and a lot to gain. It is a wonderful way to get back to work and maybe to try
something new in a related field.
advice would you give to future returnship participants?
things made this a valuable experience for me. I would advise other
participants to network as much as possible – take the opportunities given to
you. Keep an open mind about the areas that might interest you – coming back to
work brings a great freshness and invigoration and many departments want to
take advantage of this. Make the most of the coaching sessions as they can
be very revealing and rewarding. And finally, really showcase your contribution
on the program – you are part of a
valuable talent pool so show what you can still do and have to offer.
Any final
I was
surprised how little pressure I felt once I got through the door. It was
thoroughly enjoyable and invigorating. I am extremely happy to be back at work.
If you are inspired by Julia’s experience to apply for the 2015 Real Returns programme, you can find more information and application details here. You’ll need to be quick as the application deadline is Friday 16th January.
Posted by Julianne