Geraldine Lewis, PMO Lead at Capgemini (6 year break)

When my partner fell ill, I took a career break to become a carer. The career break lasted 6 years. After my partner passed away, I wanted to return to work. Agencies were telling me that I had been out of the workplace too long and things had changed. I began to feel redundant and there was no place for me. I had qualified as a psychotherapist while previously working in change management environments and decided to try working as a counsellor but didn’t feel fully satisfied with this career change.

I then re-trained as a handy woman (painter and decorator, tiling, home maintenance) and set up my own business turning a hobby into a career – but it was lonely, and I missed my previous career as a self-employed project office manager/consultant. One day, Radio 4 was playing in the background when the radio host opened a segment on a new initiative from Women Returners – it sounded like what I had been searching for. I looked at the Women Returners website when I got home and saw the Capgemini programme with placements in Sale, just a mile from where I lived.

I applied and joined Capgemini on a 6 month placement. I now have a permanent role as a Project Management Office (PMO) Lead at a large Public Sector client. I’m really happy to be back in the workplace doing what I enjoy. I’ve got a good, busy role with plenty of variety and I can see that there are opportunities to keep growing and developing with Capgemini. Management have been really helpful and I’m happy with the people I’ve been working with and being part of a team delivering innovative IT solutions.

I tell everyone I know about the programme – they might know someone sitting at home, or now doing a job that doesn’t use their qualifications and experience, who feels like there is no longer a place for them in the workplace because they have been out of it for ‘too long’. Having the returner programme really feels like a lifeline. It shows that the door is not closed. People may tell you the workplace has changed, but really, project management hasn’t changed – just the tools you work with, and it doesn’t take long to get up to scratch with those through training. I’ve only been back 6 months, but it really doesn’t feel like I’ve been away. I’m thrilled to be back in the workplace.