Women Returners Conference 2024 Speakers, Panellists and Facilitators

Find our more about our fantastic line-up of speakers, panellists and workshop facilitators below

Find out more about the Conference here 


Maria Caulfield MP, Minister for Women

Maria Caulfield is a British politician and nurse serving as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Mental Health and Women’s Health Strategy and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women since October 2022. Maria has been a Member of Parliament for Lewes since 2015 and previously specialised in cancer treatment as a Senior Sister at the Royal Marsden NHS Hospital.

Julianne Miles MBE, CEO and Co-Founder, Career Returners 

Julianne co-founded Career Returners (previously Women Returners) in 2014 as a purpose-led social business to create supported routes back to work. Partnering with leading employers, she has pioneered the development of the returner programme market in Europe. Julianne retrained as a Chartered Psychologist after a 4-year maternal career break and a first career in corporate strategy and marketing. She has an INSEAD MBA and an MSc in Organisational Psychology. Julianne is a frequent media commentator on returning to work in the media and a strong advocate for returners. She received an MBE for services to business and equality in 2019. Julianne is an empty-nester with two adult children.

Hazel Little, Deputy CEO, Career Returners 

Hazel is Deputy CEO at Career Returners. Since 2016, Hazel has partnered with leading employers across all sectors to design, manage, deliver and support returner programmes both on an individual and cross-company basis. She has extensive experience in executing government-funded returner projects and regularly hosts returner events. Prior to joining Career Returners, Hazel had a 16-year career in HR within financial services and left her role as HR Director to enjoy a 3-year parental career break. During her career break she retrained and qualified as a career coach focusing on supporting women back into work.

Returner Panel Host

Jane Garvey, Broadcaster and Journalist 

Jane is a presenter on Times Radio, the co-host of the podcast Off-Air with Fi Glover and co-author of “Did I Say That Out Loud”. Jane presented Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 from 2007 to 2020. Born in Liverpool, she studied English at Birmingham University before being sacked from an embryonic career in advertising in 1987. She joined Radio Wyvern in Worcester and was the first voice on Radio Five Live when it started in 1994. On Woman’s Hour, she once interviewed David Cameron and Mary J Blige on the same day and interviewed Hillary Clinton in a surgical boot. Jane has 2 daughters.

Returner Panellists

Fifi Crowley, Delivery Manager, DC Thomson

Fifi worked in Professional Services for over 10 years as a Project Manager and various tech roles for several American Investment Banks in the City. In 2017, when voluntary redundancy was offered, Fifi decided to take a 2 year break to set up her own Art Gallery in Hampshire. Due to Covid and starting a family, the plan turned into 5 years. After selling her art gallery, in October 2023 Fifi joined DC Thomson’s Returner Programme. In her new role as Delivery Manager, Fifi’s confidence grew, her professional skills flourished, and her soft skills had a major revamp as she navigated hybrid working. Fifi secured a full-time permanent position there in January 2024 which was 3 months earlier than expected.

Dagma Cummings, Operational Risk Analyst , Starling Bank

Dagma worked in Finance for over 20 years. In 2012 during the financial downturn, her position as a Risk & Control Officer was made redundant. She found it extremely difficult to return to the sector during this time, and so worked in retail for Harrods on a small scale basis for 10 years. She also took the opportunity during this time to start her home cake making business. Dagma found the longer she was out of Finance the more challenging it became to return, but in April 2023, she secured a position as an Operational Risk Analyst on Starling Bank’s Returner Programme. It was a new environment, navigating hybrid working and gaining confidence. After 6 months, Dagma was delighted to secure a permanent position with Starling.

Victoria Grantham, Associate, DAC Beachcroft LLP

Victoria returned to private practice over 3 years ago after a career break from law spanning almost 15 years. She previously trained, qualified and practised as a commercial litigator at a magic circle firm where she gained significant experience of large scale commercial disputes. Victoria decided to step away from practice to focus on her children in 2005. During her career break she managed the finances and HR function of a small business. Victoria applied for a returnship at DAC Beachcroft LLP through its “Reconnect” programme, returning to work in February 2021. Victoria is an associate in the London Commercial Disputes team working on a wide variety of claims including high value arbitrations, commercial court disputes and regulatory investigations. She enjoys supporting the firm’s Reconnect Programme, acting as a mentor to other returners.

Subiya Muneer, Solutions Developer, Deloitte Ireland LLP

Subiya is a software developer and mother of 2 amazing kids. Originally from India, Subiya started her career as a software developer straight out of university. She moved to Ireland with her new-born in 2016 to join her spouse, taking a career break to settle in Ireland. In 2017, she joined a leading Irish company as a software developer, until her role was made redundant during Covid. At the same time her personal life took a sharp turn. Going through a divorce in 2022, she decided she wanted to take back control of her career and came across the Deloitte Return to Work programme, joining as a software developer in 2023. In her new role, her confidence grew and professional skills flourished as she was supported to reshape her career, find financial freedom and a fulfilling work life.

Iuliana Udangiu, Business Optimisation Analyst, EDF Energy

Iuliana returned to work as a Business Optimisation Analyst with EDF Energy via their Returner Programme in September 2023 after a 4 year career break due to health reasons. Prior to this, she worked for 8+ years in Finance, Project, Change and Asset Management in the Hospitality industry in London, completed an Executive MBA degree and obtained her PGCE diploma in Coaching and Mentoring in Organisations. In the early stage of her career, she worked in Fast Fashion and Touristic Sales in both her home country, Romania, and Greece. During her career break, she obtained the APMG Change Management Practitioner qualification, continued voluntary work in Uganda and the UK and diligently worked to recover her health.

Employer Panel Host

Upasna Bhadhal, Diversity Recruitment Champion

Upasna has over 15 years of experience in advising organisations on diversifying talent pools and creating more inclusive workplaces. She is the founder of people and culture consultancy Kaleido and has led Diversity, Inclusion and Talent initiatives sponsored by Google, the Government Equalities Office and Facebook; and for global organisations such as Comic Relief, Diageo, HSBC, Barclays and Credit Suisse. She helps organisations in the Investment Industry engage with overlooked and underrepresented talent, builds cultures of Conscious Inclusion, and works with businesses around the globe on their Talent, Leadership & DEI agendas to positively impact workplace dynamics. Upasna is a public speaker, Forbes contributor, as well as a NED in HRtech, Board Advisor for DiversityQ and currently the Interim Programme Manager for The Diversity Project’s Pathway Programme and a member of the Pathway SteerCo.

Employer Panellists

Gee Foottit,  Senior Manager Recruitment Partnerships, St. James’s Place Financial Adviser Academy

As a seasoned public speaker and financial educator, Gee brings over 25 years of expertise in finance and entrepreneurship to the table. Driven by a passion for inspiring women in finance, Gee is an advocate for gender equity and women’s financial independence, striving to be a role model for future generations, including her daughter. Sustainability is also at the core of her philosophy, extending beyond environmental impact to encompass flexible work arrangements, financial freedom, and personal health. As the host of St. James’s Place’s Partnership recruitment events and career-change podcasts, “The Switch” and “SJP Adviser Stories,” Gee explores the secrets of success and shares insights to empower listeners in advancing their careers.

Tace Heuston, Global Head of Talent, J.P. Morgan Asset and Wealth Management

Tace is an Executive Director at J.P. Morgan Asset & Wealth Management (AWM) where she serves as the Global Head of the Talent Institute. In this role Tace is instrumental in driving AWM’s people development agenda with a focus on Early Careers, New Hires, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Talent Management and Executive & Organisational Development. Tace has been with the firm for more than 30 years, serving in a variety of business and HR roles. She has made a significant impact leading the firmwide ReEntry Program, which hires and supports diverse talent across the firm. Tace is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and an accredited European Mentoring and Coaching Council Executive Coach. Tace currently lives in Essex, UK with her husband, daughter and son.

Sarah Mavius, Head of Returners, FDM Group

Sarah’s role focuses on supporting professionals on their journey back into the workplace following a career break. She joined FDM as a Returner herself after a 10-year career break and understands the challenges of returning to a senior role with a gap on your CV. Her love for the initiative and her desire to help others step back into a rewarding career led her to join the team internally 7 years ago. Since then she has been working on building an inclusive and supportive environment for other returners, creating new opportunities and diversifying to support broader skillsets. Prior to leading the FDM Returners Programme, Sarah worked for over 18 years across front and middle office with some leading financial organisations in London, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

Lorraine Toole, Director Talent Acquisition EMEA, Workday

Lorraine has been with Workday for nine years and leads the EMEA Talent Acquisition team for Product & Technology and Corporate hiring, supporting high growth across the EMEA region and working closely with the wider EMEA and Global TA Leadership team. Alongside her EMEA role, Lorraine is also heavily involved in Workday’s Global TA Diversity strategy which is an area of significant focus as Workday looks for new ways and opportunities to increase the diversity of their workforce, putting DEI at the heart of everything that they do. Lorraine is a mother of two boys and is passionate about supporting working parents to re-enter the workplace and excel in their chosen paths.

Alexander Trusty, Global Diversity Sourcing Specialist, Moody’s 

Alexander is a member of the Talent Acquisition team working very closely with the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) group to develop strategies and processes for recruiting exceptional diverse talent across all of Moody’s business groups, including Re-Ignite, Moody’s return to work programme in the UK and the US. Alexander works closely with the firm’s Business Resource Groups and external DEI partners to foster an inclusive working environment where all employees are represented through support and diversity programmes. Prior to Moody’s, Alexander had an illustrious career as an executive search consultant before shifting his focus toward DEI, working for a global D&I consulting firm called Equality Group. As a consultant, Alexander was responsible for advising Private Equity and Venture Capital firms, focusing on assessing biases within recruitment processes, promotion cycles and leadership structures and addressing key internal imbalances by creating tailored solutions for inclusion.

Workshop Facilitators

Maharukh Dalal, Lead Coach

Maharukh specialises in guiding professionals through transformative career journeys, particularly those returning to the workforce after a career break. She is a highly-experienced coach, accredited by the International Coaching Federation through the Co-Active Training Institute. She has over two decades of expertise in Finance and Hospitality, and an educational background from Harvard Business School and Rutgers University. Her own journey has taken her across continents – from India to the United States, Singapore, and the UK – navigating career pivots and personal challenges, including moving with a young family. These experiences have instilled a profound appreciation for the pivotal role of coaching in achieving dreams and goals.

Rachel Halsall, Executive Coach

Rachel is an Executive Coach, Facilitator & Public Speaker who has gained a unique understanding of corporate life across a range of cultures and sectors. After gaining a Masters Degree in International Relations, she started her career at the Japanese Embassy and has extensive experience in the financial and legal sectors. Since launching her own business in 2012, Rachel designs and delivers training, coaching and leadership programmes and speaks on a range of topics including networking, confidence and self-promotion.

Victoria McLean, Founder and CEO, City CV 

As Founder and CEO of award-winning, international career consultancy City CV, Victoria has devoted her career to guiding organisations and professionals through career transition, development, and management. Following a career as a headhunter and roles at Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch, where she oversaw recruitment, she established City CV in 2009. City CV is now part of the Hanover Group, where Victoria sits on the global group board. Featured in leading media, Victoria is an international keynote speaker on D&I and all things career related. With a particular passion for supporting women in their careers, she has been a key partner of Career Returners for several years. She now works with boards and HR leaders, advising on talent, redundancy, retention, engagement, DEI, and employer branding, while supporting individuals via bespoke programmes and City CV’s Career Refinery Portal & App.

Liz Mearns, Deputy Head of Coaching, Career Returners 

Liz is an experienced executive and leadership coach for women. She spent 15 years in Financial Services working with clients across a variety of sectors including Sainsbury’s Bank, The AA, Mercedes-Benz, Manchester City FC and the NHS. She is a fully qualified Corporate & Executive Coach, Personal Development Coach and Master NLP Practitioner. Liz took a career break to have her family and realised first-hand how confidence and self-belief can falter during this special but testing time. During this time, she worked with a female focused charity to help mums with their wellbeing and mental health and also set up her own coaching business to help women to get back into work and utilise their talents and power to best effect.

Stephanie Rix, Lead Coach, Career Returners 

Stephanie is a registered professional career coach with an MA in Career Development and Coaching from Warwick  University, and  a  Board  Director for the Career Development Institute. She has over 15 years’ commercial marketing experience with L’Oréal and Avon. During her own career break following the arrival of her second child, Stephanie started a career coaching qualification and then returned to work to lead the marketing training programme, coaching senior leaders across UK, Europe and Latin America. She left the corporate world to specialise in leadership and career development. She has many years of experience of supporting returners, both on returner programmes and on their journey back to work.