Wondering whether a Returner Programme is for you? Will it fit in with your other commitments and are you ready to take a leap into a new career path? At Inclusivity we know there are many worries people have surrounding going back to work and whether it will work for you as an individual. It’s why we love to share stories of those who have returned to their careers successfully.

In 2020, Inclusivity helped BAT launch a returners programme and for the first time we were tasked with finding scientists! It was open to anyone who had been on a career break for 18+ months and were seeking a supportive environment to re-commence their career.

We were delighted when Sharleen Braham stepped forward and applied. With a PhD in Microbiology and lots of lab experience, Sharleen was a standout. But the BAT programme was in the midst of Covid so all Returners would have to start virtually – no mean feat! But Sharleen rose to the occasion and is still with BAT post her six months on the programme.

Read below to hear all about Sharleen’s experience returning to her career.

Can you tell us a little about yourself, your background and how you came to be on a career break?
I am a clinical scientist with 20 years experience in healthcare. I took a career break to start a family and pivot my career into a different industry.

What have you enjoyed the most about returning to work?
I have enjoyed being able to leverage my existing experiences to enter into a different industry in a remote role that provides a welcomed challenge and the possibility for me to develop.

Many returners have doubts when considering a return. What were your doubts surrounding returning to work?
My doubts were related to successfully pivoting my career in a remote role in a different industry in the midst of Covid, which has caused furlough and job loss!

What is your best piece of advice for someone who is thinking about returning to work?
Returning to work has its challenges, but the world has had to change due to Covid and is more open to supporting people returning to work. If you are ready, so is the work force!

What are your current career goals?
I would really like to finally progress in my career. I wish to seek out a mentor or sponsorship for progression into a remote VP role.

When you returned to work did you have to factor in any caring commitments?
Yes, returning to work, I had to factor in caring commitments for the first time in my career. It has been the biggest challenge above working in a different industry. And it remains a challenge, but that is to be expected in light of Covid.

How did the BAT programme help with your transition back to work?
Inclusivity has been remarkable in the transition back to work, together with BAT. The initial support was impactful for managing jitters, but the programme has reinforced that support and helped a great deal with settling into the role.

What is one thing you feel you have brought to your role/company?
A wealth of experience of project management, its challenges and problem solving skills have benefitted the role/company. I am comfortable asking questions and new enough to the industry to give a fresh perspective.

Would you recommend a returners programme to someone else, if so, why?
I have already recommended a returner programme to anyone I know who has been on a career break! It is important that if someone is ready to return to work, they are not inhibited by the belief that the work force is antiquated about career breaks.

How did inclusivity provide you with support during the process?
Inclusivity provided clear, impactful messages and tools for overcoming challenges of returning to work after a career break. The coaching sessions were helpful in reflecting upon ones achievements and focusing one on looking forward and ways to take those steps towards goals.