In 2017, Virgin Money successfully launched their first return to work career programme aimed at professionals who had been out of work for 18 months or more.
This year, the same programme is back by popular demand. The Virgin Money ReCareer programme is already causing quite a stir and so it should. With Virgin Money being committed to providing a supported route back to work, we caught up with one of the successful applicants from last year to hear more about her experience and why she would recommend applying for the scheme.
Angela Beattie had been a stay at home mum for 14 years following her maternity leave after the birth of her second child. This coincided with her husband’s company relocating the family to Australia and then Singapore. Previously she had worked in the automotive industry at Land Rover in Procurement, Business Process Reengineering and Marketing. Her final role was as the Product Manager for the Land Rover Discovery & Defender, a role she simply adored. But, as is the case in many households, family life got in the way and she didn’t return to work.
Luckily for Angela, a good friend told her about the Virgin Money programme. It was great timing as Angela had been thinking about going back to work but was struggling to decide what to do. She had no idea how to go about getting herself back on the career ladder and had serious doubts any company would be interested in employing her after such a long career break. It seemed easier for her to keep pushing those thoughts to the back of her mind.
Her friend persuaded her to ignore her doubts and apply. Thankfully, due to Angela’s previous experience and professional capabilities, the persuasion was worth it as she got a place.
Naturally, before the programme started, she was apprehensive. She had no idea what to expect and was very nervous about going back to work. Her main concern was whether her skills would still be relevant and whether she had forgotten what to do ‘at work’.
Even before the programme started Angela realised her worse fears were unfounded. The programme was really well organised. The four applicants were given fantastic support before the programme got underway by Stephanie Dillon from Inclusivity Partners (Virgin Money recruitment firm), boosting confidence and preparing them for the initial interview. The subsequent pre-commencement Ignite Day gave wonderful tips and coping strategies.
When they actually started the return to work programme they had great support from Liz Liddle & Joanna Barnard from Virgin Money’s HR department, who calmed nerves, listened to concerns and found a way through any obstacles when needed. The fortnightly group coaching session, delivered by Jessica Chivers, was also a fantastic help, as Angela found:
“It was great to be able to talk through things which were going well and also not so well and to work out what to do. It worked on both a work and personal level. Having this coaching session together meant that if someone was feeling a bit down, invariably one of the others would be having a good day so we could chivvy each other along. It was a hugely helpful process as we all learnt from each other and learned a lot about the business through this process too. It worked especially well as the four of us were all based in different parts of the company so we weren’t competing with each other.”
Whilst there is no guarantee of a position to return to work at the end of the 13 week programme, that is the main aim for Virgin Money. In Angela’s case last year there wasn’t actually a defined role within the area she had been placed in. However, with her new found confidence she was able to network within the organisation to find her niche. It was a challenge but was great for her confidence, as she demonstrated her skills to people she had never met. She found it a particularly effective way of getting ‘the old me’ back.
Since leaving the programme Angela has not looked back:
“I have a proper job and a proper salary! Something that I doubted could ever happen again after my marathon career break. I am a supplier relationship manager and work four days a week. I am really enjoying it and am hugely grateful for the opportunity the ReCareer Programme gave me.”
Finally, we asked Angela whether she would recommend the Virgin Money ReCareer programme to others?:
“Most definitely! I am still a mummy, but I also have a fulfilling professional life. Virgin Money is very open to requests for flexible working so I now work four days a week so can balance my work and home life. I am so pleased that I succumbed to my friend’s request to apply.”
If you would like to learn more about the 2018 Virgin Money ReCareer programme and hopefully follow in Angela’s footsteps, please apply using this link https://inclusivity.co.uk/virgin-money-re-career-programme/