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Clare’s Story: Returning to Innovation at Accenture

Claire Lysaght 500 x 500

Claire, Value Lead (7 year career break)

Watch Clare talking about her return on this video: Clare’s ReSUME Story

I am working today in Accenture’s Global Innovation Centre, The Dock. Two years on I am still pinching myself to be back working and in an area that I love.

I started my career in the software localization industry as a Project Manager in a start-up company. I worked hard, took advantage of the start-up environment and threw myself at any task and job that came my way.

After years in Project Management and a company takeover I transferred into a career in Sales and Account Management which I loved. I travelled all over the world to achieve success in this role, became a Senior Director responsible for our company’s largest client in EMEA at the time.

During later years in this role I also started a family and my newborn son was diagnosed with Congenital Heart disease. At that point I stepped out of work for several years to focus on being a mother. With my son well on the road to recovery and about to start school I decided it was a good time for me to get back to work. Looking on this as the second phase of my career I decided I would like to leverage my experience and try working in a different area of industry.

Where would I start? I decided to retrain/upskill, I signed up for a course in Dublin City University, Innovation New Product & Service development. I loved everything about the course, learning about all things Innovation, working in teams, meeting new people, daily stimulating conversations. The checklist of negative voice/open questions were all positively affirmed on completion of this course:

On completing the course, I took up the first job offer I got. Even though HR was not on my radar at all, I accepted a part time role in a HR Service Shared Centre. I took on a maternity leave cover role. When the maternity leave cover finished, I refocused my job search in the direction I wanted to go in. I was applying for jobs and not having much success.

Along comes Accenture’s Resume program. A 12-week paid intern program for people looking to re-join the workforce after taking a break. I applied for Resume and was successful and took up a role in the newly formed Rapid Innovation team.

I was ready to go back to work and starting back working at this point was no different to starting any new job. There was a job to be done and I needed get to know my team, get to know the company, to build credibility, build connections and most importantly get to know my job.

I got a great support from my manager, was given great flexibility working 4 days over 5 which allows me to balance work and homelife. I was assigned a buddy. The Resume network itself was a great support, all 11 Resumer’s kept in contact throughout. Home support was brilliant, my family knew how much I enjoyed working and we got ourselves organised such that there was no barrier to success on that front.

As part of the Resume program Accenture organised Women Returners coaching for us throughout the internship. Every few weeks we had a coaching session to check-in with us on our return to work and guide us through the next phase of returning. This was a very safe place to share experiences and to support each other as a group.

I am now back in work nearly 2 years, a permanent Accenture employee. I am very grateful that Accenture is an inclusive organisation, amongst many other things for embracing a program like Resume. It feels great to be able to contribute in this dynamic workplace, to be working in an environment where I am stimulated daily by the diversity of skills, experience and thought leadership within the organisation.

My advice to anyone looking to get back to work,

  1. You are the sum of all your experience, work and outside of work, don’t uncouple that experience, use this as a lever to get you back into the workplace. During the time I was out I developed and enhanced skills that at the time I didn’t rate – resilience, determination, empathy, courage, patience, communication and organisation. These skills matter today more than ever.
  2. Do not obsess about your career gaps, be confident that you and the experience you have will bring value to any organisation you work for.
  3. Finally, don’t take the first job you are offered just because it is a job, stick with your goal and look for a job that will satisfy you and your career objectives.

Good luck on your journey…I hope it is peppered with a little bit of luck…that helps too ?