CHRO, Deloitte Ireland
Senior Risk Advisory, Deloitte Ireland
Getting back to work after a career break isn’t always easy. However, there are ‘Return to Work’ programmes offering mentoring and training to help you get a foothold on the career ladder.
In 2013, Antona Davy decided to give up her management job in an insurance company to raise her children, presuming that — when the time was right — it would be relatively easy to return to work. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that simple.
Finding a way back into the workplace
“In 2019, my daughter started school, and I wanted to get back into the workplace,” Davy remembers. “I applied for jobs that were comparable to the one I had left, but never received replies. I thought: ‘I’ve been away for six years, so maybe I should pitch for lower-level positions.’ I tried that, but still nothing. My confidence took a huge knock.”
I spent another two years applying, but kept hitting a brick wall,” she says. “Then someone told me about a programme that was specifically geared towards people who want to return to the workplace — and I found out it was with Deloitte Ireland.”
Coaching to assist in the transition back to work
Deloitte Ireland’s Return to Work programme — which was introduced in March 2022 — helps people find their way into professional services after a career break. Successful applicants are given a professionally paid placement in the company for six months, during which time they receive internal coaching, mentoring and a ‘buddy,’ together with support from external career coaching and network organisation Women Returners. At the end of the programme, the firm hopes to offer successful returners a permanent role.
“It’s a great way for us to find strong, new talent,” explains Sinead Gogan, the company’s Chief Human Resources Officer. “We know how important it is to have a balanced team — but this is more of a challenge at senior levels. Tapping into a phenomenal, talented pipeline of returners allows us to address this issue and make sure we leverage the skills and abilities they have. It’s about setting people up to be successful with ongoing coaching, mentoring, and training, as well as a flexible working schedule, to assist in their transition back to work.”
Deloitte Works — the firm’s hybrid work model — and the enhanced leave offerings available are also key differentiators for applicants. “Our placements can be offered in a part-time or reduced working week, which allows the returners to transition back to the workforce with the support and flexibility so they can thrive while maintaining a positive work-life balance,” Gogan continues.
We know how important it is to have a balanced team — but this is more of a challenge at senior levels.
An opportunity for personal growth
Davy applied for the programme and was excited to be asked to attend a virtual interview with two of the firm’s partners. “Because I’d had so many knock-backs, I didn’t think it would happen, so it was a nerve-wracking experience,” she admits.
“I knew that this would be a life-changing opportunity for me and my family, so I put a picture of my kids on the desk in front of me and told myself: ‘This is for me — and them. Whatever happens, just do your best.’”
Focusing on strengths and boosting confidence
Davy was delighted when she was offered a place on the programme and given a senior role in the company’s Risk Advisory team. “I was thrilled,” she says. “It’s given me a taste of getting back into the work environment, which can be scary. It taught me to focus on my strengths, deal with imposter syndrome, juggle work-life balance and use technology that was new to me. My ‘buddy’ was there to help with day-to-day practical issues and a mentor to help with my professional development.”
Davy has now been offered the opportunity to continue with the firm and credits the programme with getting her back onto the career ladder. “It’s given me financial independence and been a huge boost to my confidence,” she says. “It’s something I’ll always be grateful for.”
Deloitte Ireland Return to Work Programme