There is certainly a lot of buzz around the recently launched Virgin Money’s ReCareer programme, now in its second successful year. For anyone who has been out of work for an extended period of time and is wondering how on earth they are going to step back into the corporate world, the ReCareer programme might seem a little too good to be true.
However, what you see is what you get with Virgin Money. They really are passionate about giving professionals a supported route back to work, as Judith Bradbury, a self-confessed unintentional stay-at-home mum found in 2017 when she became a successful graduate of the scheme.
In 2005, with the first birthday of her child coinciding with being made redundant from a start-up company she had co-founded, Judith found herself as a mum and housewife at home. Life had conspired to offer her the opportune time to take a break. After the birth of her second child, the family relocated to the Middle East for her husband’s job. On their return to the UK they then moved to Northumberland (having previously lived in London) and the prospect of re-starting her career seemed very remote. There was the prospect of working as part of the founding management team for another start-up on an unpaid basis but unfortunately this one did not get off the ground.
By now time was marching on, her children were getting older and Judith realised she was approaching a milestone birthday. This galvanised her into finding herself a new career (not just a job) as her 50th birthday approached.
Initially she tried applying for local jobs but with no luck. As is the way for many of us, she turned to a friend for advice – a fellow mum who had successfully returned to work. She advised her to work on her LinkedIn profile, and to connect with Stephanie Dillon from Inclusivity Partners on LinkedIn. By sheer coincidence, the week she contacted her, Stephanie had been in conversations with Virgin Money about setting up their return to work programme.
Judith wasn’t a stranger to the concept of return to work programmes, having seen many advertised, but most of the programmes she had encountered had been in London. It gave her real cause for optimism to hear of a programme in the North East. She understood that it would be like an internship, with no guarantee of a job at the end of it, but was fine with that. She very much viewed it as a springboard: of course a job at Virgin Money was her aim but if that hadn’t transpired she would have refreshed and updated her skill-set and would have renewed confidence to go out and find a job elsewhere.
Judith found the ReCareer programme to be great for many reasons, mainly because:
“It was really beneficial to be part of a cohort. There were four of us on the programme, all from different business backgrounds and returning after different lengths of time. We were all placed in different areas of the bank so we were not competing against each other but could support each other through the ups and downs, bringing different perspectives to both work challenges and the challenges we faced in juggling work and family lives. We have remained close”
She goes on:
“We had great support from the HR team at Virgin Money. They sought to place us all in areas which were the best fit for our skill sets and continued to check in on us throughout the programme, providing additional support and guidance where required.”
Finally she concludes:
“We were fortunate that Virgin Money provided us with fortnightly group coaching sessions with an external coach, Jessica Chivers, who helped us work through any issues we had and really boosted our confidence to keep going!”
But where is Judith now, following the conclusion of the programme?
“I was actually offered a permanent, senior role before the programme began, as a result of interviews I had with potential placement departments over the summer. I had not expected this when I applied for the programme but was of course very happy to accept. I now have 6 teams reporting into me as Head of Management Services within Group Services. It was a challenge to hit the ground running from Day 1, so I really took great value from the support provided by the programme for the first 13 weeks of my employment. “
Finally, we asked Judith whether she would encourage others to apply for the 2018 ReCareer programme. She replied:
“I would wholeheartedly recommend it to others! Even the process of applying was beneficial – Stephanie was so encouraging, and gave such practical and useful advice around CV writing and interview technique. This on its own would have been invaluable to me in my job hunt. The assessment process was also really useful to rebuild confidence and get back into a business mind-set. Virgin Money is a really great company to work for and a great place to reignite a career!”
If you would like to learn more about the 2018 Virgin Money ReCareer programme and hopefully follow in Judith’s footsteps, please apply using this link https://inclusivity.co.uk/virgin-money-re-career-programme/