Natalie, Fidelity New Horizons Returner Programme
Prior to my career break I worked in operational management in financial services, mostly in the investment-linked start-up businesses across South Africa, UK & Europe. My career in financial services began at Alexander Forbes administering portfolios of defined benefit and defined contribution pension and provident funds. I then moved to Investec where I was responsible for a team of administrators managing investment linked life annuity, retirement annuity, pension and provident fund products. I was working for Momentum, part of the First Rand group when I was seconded to the UK as part of a team to set up operations for its UK linked business. I then managed operations for a Liechtenstein based life company and was involved in product development of German, Italian and Dutch life products. My career path remained in life companies for a few years before I moved to Blackrock. I then decided to have a career break, retrained and opened a childcare business offering breakfast, after school and holiday clubs. After 6 years, I decided that I wanted to return to the corporate world and when I read about the Returner Programme Fidelity was running; I knew straight away that this is where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do.
Towards the end of the programme, I was offered a permanent position in my current role at a more senior level and I have made a smooth transition from being a returner to being a full time employee at Fidelity. The roll-over to permanent was a smooth process and the team welcomed me warmly as a permanent member. My journey back into the corporate world has at times been a bit scary but it has mostly been exciting and I now feel that I’m exactly where I belong.
There are a number of returner programmes running at the moment, what attracted you to the Fidelity one?
Fidelity has a strong presence in the market place and a good reputation. Fidelity’s business is the Industry I know and wanted to return to and it does of course help that they have offices outside of London and close to my home.
What support did you receive to assist you in adjusting?
The support I received was invaluable and ample. Firstly, Fidelity recruitment and the business sponsors were great at managing the programme and have shown warmth and interest. Women Returners who assisted Fidelity in launching this programme provided consulting and valuable coaching. My Fidelity mentor provided direction and guidance as well as providing information on Fidelity. My manager is a strong proponent of the programme and specifically cares about supporting individuals wanting to restart their corporate career. I also formed a strong and supportive bond with the other women returners on the programme.
How have you found working at Fidelity?
Foremost, Fidelity staff are very welcoming; no question (and trust me my list is long and never-ending) is too much. As with any new job, my first 8 weeks were spent learning about Fidelity, the business and getting to know people. I’m happy to report that the ‘fog’ has lifted and I’ve reached that point where I am comfortable and feel like I belong. I believe the reasons for that is that I took it upon myself to get out there and meet people across the organisation and because I am fully aligned to Fidelity’s values of Integrity, Innovation & Excellence.
How did the Women Returners workshops help you?
They helped in a number of ways but most notably by helping me to explain my gap in career and building my confidence. Initially getting into a routine took a bit of getting used to but again, it doesn’t take long to get into the swing of it. Women Returners offered plenty of support and advice around managing this.
Would you recommend the Returners programme?
Absolutely. I would recommend a returner programme to any person looking to re-enter the workforce after a career break. Firstly, it gets you in front of employers and secondly, the returners programme is designed specifically for people with a career break and employers are keen to meet you. Being on this programme was an opportunity to remind myself of my capabilities and certainly reinvigorated my desire for my career in financial services.
What advice would you give someone wanting to return to work?
Go for it! It really doesn’t take long to get over those fears and lack of confidence once you’re in the workplace.