We sat down with the lovely Emma Craddock, to chat to her about her experience with taking a career break and returning to work on a returner programme.
Name: Emma Craddock
Career break: 3 years
Company placed into: Chaucer Group
New role: Property Portfolio Manager
Tell us about you before your career break?
Pre career break I was working managing the analytics relationship between JLT Specialty and JLT Re. I had been working for various reinsurance brokers for almost 15 years in various analytical and catastrophe modelling roles. At the time I had 3 young children who at the time of leaving JLT were 2, 5 and 6. I really enjoyed the variety of my role. I was working 3 days a week so I was very lucky to have a part time role, but I found that the days were so long that the children were in bed or just getting into bed by the time I got home so didn’t really see them 3 days a week.
“I just wanted to spend a bit of time enjoying being around the children more before my youngest started school”.
What did you do during your career break ?
A friend who knew I loved my spreadsheets (excel) recommended me to a nursery and so I started working at the nursery for half a day a week helping out as their finance manager.
I really enjoyed the work and I decided to study the book keeping exams which I felt would be a really interesting course but may also be a useful qualification to have if I decided not to return to insurance. I spent the next year and a half working at the nursery, studying and enjoying the extra time with the children without having to juggle childcare. I then qualified from my course and just as I was thinking about my next move, a role can up for a book keeper at a golf club nearby.
Originally the role was for just 6 months as they migrated all their accounts and membership records onto a new platform and it seemed a perfect opportunity to return to work and utilise my new skills.
Covid hit 6 months into the role and they asked me to stay on to help manage all the challenges that covid threw at small businesses. I also hoped that the effect of covid and shift to home working might mean that working from home a few days a week might be an option. I decided to look at a contracting role originally as I wanted to be certain that I was ready to go back into insurance before I committed to a permanent role.
Emma adds “Whilst I got a number of interviews, the what was by now a 3 year gap, meant that I lost out each time to someone with much more recent experience.”
How did you hear about the insurance returners programme?
A school friend mentioned the returners programme one day to me whilst we were out for a walk. She had seen an advert for the returner programme and thought of me as she knew I was struggling to get back into the industry. The returner programme came along at just the right time for me.
How was the experience going through the returner programme – from interviews with Inclusivity all the way through to the six months?
My initial interview with Inclusivity was with Stephanie and it was brilliant. It was amazing having someone to speak to, who was really positive about my career to date and all the decisions I had made. At a time when I was beginning to doubt I was ever going to be able to return to insurance she was able to provide a huge moral boost and give me confidence that I would find something.
Chaucer was the first company who interviewed me and again they seemed genuinely interested in my experience to date and seemed really excited about what I could bring to their team. I had a total of two interviews with them and was delighted to be offer a placement with them.
Tell us about your offer….
In January this year after being at Chaucer for 4 months I was offered the role of property portfolio manager and a permanent contract. One of the teams this was managing was the treaty team I had been working within for the previous couple of months. I was delighted to accept the offer and the transition to the role was made much easier by the fact I knew the team well having worked with them for a couple of months. The new role is still 4 days a week and so I feel I have a really good balance of being at home and in the office. I am able to be flexible on the number of days I come into the office which has meant the transition feel so much easier.
Any advice for others?
It doesn’t do any harm to start the process and find out what your options are. I personally found that I had so many questions and hurdles in my mind for reasons why it wouldn’t work for me, but once I began to talk to people and talked through the possible roles everything slowly began to slot into place. For me my main hurdle was working out how my return would work for our family and the day to day logistics. It wasn’t until I had been offered a role and was beginning to discuss days / hours that I was able to see how I could make it work.
Insurance is an industry Inclusivity has worked with for some time and we have excellent connections with the UK’s top employers. If you are on a career break seeking to return to this industry we urge you to submit your C.V to us here. Or view all opportunities here, all candidates we place will receive our unique 1:1 coaching and on-going support to ensure your transition back to work with confidence.
We will keep you posted on Emma’s return to work journey.