This is one in a series of stories written by mums for mums talking about going back to work after a career break.
I’m delighted to share Hannah Bryant’s story. Hannah is a former client, and I have just loved watching her business blossom and grow, since she started her journey back to work a year ago.
1. Tell us about your career before your career break
Before my career break I was a purchasing consultant for a number of years and managed a European procurement team, located in UK and Poland, within a global pension and employee benefits organisation. I really enjoyed my job, the variety and meeting lots of different people across the organisation.
2. What do you do now?
I started my own business in September 2017 helping startups and SMEs apply for innovation grants.
The company has already grown and evolved and I also track grant opportunities for clients, track tendering opportunities and support clients in writing bids and tenders.
3. How long was your career break? What did you do, if anything, to maintain skills or learn new ones?
My career break was 8 years long. During that time I rebuilt our house, chaired the school PTA for two years and did the odd bit of proposal and application editing to help out a friend.
4. What prompted the career change?
I just found a way of repurposing existing skills that I have.
I looked at what I like doing, where my skills lay and how I could craft something that fitted around my family as I wanted it to; but it was a long drawn out process that took many iterations and several years of thinking about. (Some ideas on how to get clear on your own skills over here).
5. What was your biggest challenge when you went back to work?
I am continually shocked at my lack of confidence in situations that 8 years ago I wouldn’t have dreamed about worrying about. I find myself having a strong word to myself often!
The other big thing I have found it that everything is so much more time-boxed than it was before children. I have one hour to do a piece of work and no more as the children need picking up from school for example rather than being at work all day and able to stay till whenever. Sometimes it really helps me focus, other times it terrifies me when I have a deadline looming.
6. What helped you go back to work?
I couldn’t have done it without friends and family believing in me and definitely working with you (The Confident Mother Experience) brought things into focus and helped me see a way forward.
7. What’s been the biggest surprise?
How much people respect my opinion even though it feels to me that I haven’t worked for ages and how much I enjoy it, it really doesn’t feel like a job some days.
8. Tell us about your flexible working arrangements?
I work around my children being in school. Friends help with occasionally taking and picking up from school if I have meetings in London.
In the school holidays I don’t work half terms but in Easter and the summer holidays I only work two days a week. I am very strict with myself about that; it can lead to some evening work but that’s worth the trade off to me.
9. What advice would you give to other women contemplating going back to work?
Give it a go, it is scary but so rewarding.
Join the career break project
I love to share tips and ideas as well as career break stories from mums who’ve returned to work after a career break. Maybe you went back to work in a different sector? Maybe you rejoined your old company? Maybe you started something completely different. I’d love to hear from you so that other women know that it can be done.
If you’ve had a career break, you’re planning one or if you’ve gone back and you’d be happy to share your tips with other mums, join my Career Break Project group on Facebook.
In the meantime, to find out more about Hannah …
Name: Hannah Bryant
Job title: Founder White Raft Consulting
Business: White Raft Consulting
Hours you work: 3 days a week split over 5 or more days