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Juliette’s Story: Returning to Project Management with the NHS

Juliette Paris-Newton pic

Juliette Paris-Newton, Senior Project Manager, NHS (4 years career break)

I was a Senior/Principal Consultant before taking a career break. After the birth of my very special girl, I was a full-time carer for her, and needed to shield her during the COVID outbreak. My career break was four years.

I started looking to go back to work after our daughter had had all her major surgeries, and her health was more stable. We also finally found a place for her to socialise with other children for three days a week.

However, I did not know where to start. I felt that the experience my family went through changed me drastically. I did not see myself going back to the same post. I loved my job, my team, and my workmates but this place did not seem to fit anymore with my new life.

By looking around I realised that I was not the only woman who had to take a career break and I found the Women Returners website! I started to see talks online and how to present the break as a learning opportunity and not just a gap in my CV.

I 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. These sessions helped me a lot during my interview. Before meeting all these amazing women, I felt I was not adequate anymore. I was not sure if I could add anything to the professional workplace. I was afraid to be in competition with younger people with unlimited time on their hands.

During the sessions, we discussed on our strengths, our qualities and what interested us. It helped me to focus on the positive and on who I was and who I was going to be in the working environment.

We kept in touch with the women from our group and we encouraged each other.

I chose to work for an employer who has a very good understanding of my situation. I was transparent during the interview with my family situation. By doing so, I felt secured, supported, and went back to work as if I never left the professional world. I have not missed a day of work and I enjoy my post. I have a kind person as a line manager which helps. He has given me the space for any enquiry I could have and made sure that my stress level was never too high.

I love being back at work. I really like my post and I am a valued member of my team. It is truly lovely to not be transparent anymore; as a carer, nobody encourages you, nobody tells you during your yearly review that you are doing a great job, you don’t have access to annual leave from your role.

I’m progressing well. I will be part of a business program to progress in the next band during this financial year.

My advice for women returning to work is to remember your worth, look at your skills before doing more training, skills can be used in a lot of fields. Don’t wait for the perfect job, try one and if it does not work out nobody will judge you for trying.

We manage so much at home with our busy family life than we can take on much more than we think. Go women, the working place is much better when you are in it!