Career Returners

Women Returners

Is it possible to return to a fulfilling, challenging, successful career after a long career break? After listening to these stories we want your answer to be a resounding yes!

On our Career Returners podcast, you’ll hear from a diverse range of people who are successfully back at work after taking long career breaks for childcare, eldercare, health or other reasons. They’re sharing the ups-and-downs of their return-to-work journeys – the challenges, the rewards and the learnings. After each story, we’ll chat over some of the key themes that emerged and share some of our top return to work tips.

Career Returners: Trailer
Trailer 1 min 33 sec

All Episodes

“Have faith in yourself – remember your professional skills and strengths are still there, and your time on your career break will have added a wide range of transferable skills that will be enormously valued when you return to work.” In this final episode of the series, Anna & Karen reflect on the inspirational stories they’ve heard over the series and weave together the main themes of the Return to Work journey, from when you first start thinking about returning to work, to how you might map your path back, the areas to consider whilst actively looking for work and how to navigate the early days once you’re back. An episode packed full of advice, tips and reflections to help you on your return-to-work journey. “Be proactive and positive …take action and create your own networks, conversations and opportunities and try to stay optimistic that things will work out ok in the end.” Subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts: ( Follow for free on Spotify: ( For advice, support, opportunities, and connection, see our Women Returners website: ( 

May 12

27 min 37 sec

Adriana Ennab enjoyed a varied and successful career in investment banking, working in New York, London and Tokyo in her early career. She took a 16 year career break from banking during which time she not only brought up her 3 children but also seized the opportunity to set up her own businesses, enjoy higher education again as well as explore other interests such as the arts, yoga and drumming! But after 16 years away from investment banking, Adriana began to miss her old professional career and looked for ways to return. She found her route back in via Credit Suisse’s Returner programme ‘Real Returns’, and encouraged to explore different opportunities during the programme, she moved into a new area in public policy. Six years later, Adriana’s career has continued to flourish and she is now Director of Public Policy with a strong advocacy focus on Digital and Innovation areas.  “Understand it is never a straight path. And the best outcomes that I've had is because I did not say this is how I wanted to be”. Hear Adriana’s inspiring story and how as a strong believer in championing other women, she also mentors other women returners joining Credit Suisse, and helps them to navigate their own return to work. Subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts: ( Follow for free on Spotify: ( For advice, support, opportunities, and connection, see our Women Returners website: ( 

May 5

35 min 4 sec

Chief Inspector Georgia Williams joined the Met Police in 1997, and enjoyed a hugely fulfilling career, where she felt like she was really making a difference. She was promoted twice, to Sergeant and then Inspector, before she took a career break in 2011 after the birth of her first child. During a 5-year career break, Georgia had a second child and also took on a local job as a School Chaplain, a flexible role she really enjoyed where she could use her transferable skills from policing. Thinking this would be her new path going forwards, she was surprised to receive a call from the Superintendent, inviting her to come to an open day to hear about a Met Police ‘Return to Policing’ programme which ran in 2020. She went along out of interest, and as she stepped into Scotland Yard, describes feeling as if she had ‘come home’. “I feel really fulfilled in the role that I'm doing …. I'm proud of my job. I'm proud to put that uniform on ... the first time I put it back on after I came back, I bristled with pride.” Hear how Georgia found her way back to her career and, just 15 months later, was delighted to be promoted to Chief Inspector. Subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts: ( Follow for free on Spotify: ( For advice, support, opportunities, and connection, see our Women Returners website: ( 

Apr 28

36 min 34 sec

Trained as a civil engineer, Bhavna started her career in India as an IT developer and network engineer. She came to the UK in 2003 with her husband and after the birth of her daughter, took a career break to spend more time with her. But as time passed, Bhavna needed to get back to work for financial reasons, and so, whilst her daughter was young, she looked for a different type of role that would give her more flexibility and retrained as a teacher. However, as the years passed, Bhavna missed her career in IT and spurred on by her daughter to look for the work that she loved, she searched for opportunities to return. Racked with doubt as to whether she would be able to catch up with all the developments in the sector during her time out, Bhavna enrolled on some free online courses and read widely to try and boost her confidence and update herself. After 9 years out of IT, the opportunity came in the form of Next’s Back to IT programme, and 15 months later, Bhavna’s been promoted to a QA Analyst and is flourishing in her role. “The core skills will never go away from you. So keep on, be positive. Don't wait for the perfect job ….get your foot into the door and then you can look around once you’re inside” Subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts: ( Follow for free on Spotify: ( For advice, support, opportunities, and connection, see our Women Returners website: ( 

Apr 21

32 min

Dr Tzany Kokalova Wheldon enjoyed an impressive early career in academia, gaining a doctorate in Natural Sciences and working in nuclear physics in Germany. Following the tragic loss of her unborn son at 5 months, a harrowing experience that Tzany describes as shaping her life going forwards, she decided to take an extended career break after the birth of her twin boys a few years later, so that she could dedicate time to being with them during their early years.  When her boys were 3, she decided the time was right to return to her career but found that the gap in her CV meant that she kept getting pipped at the post at the final round. Her bridge back came in the form of the Daphne Jackson Fellowship, a 2 year part time programme supporting researchers to return to work after a career break for family, caring or health reasons. Today, Tzany is a Reader in Nuclear Physics and works as Director of the Positron Imaging Centre at the University of Birmingham. In 2020, she won a Timewise Power Returner Award, celebrating her ability to combine career success at a senior level whilst working flexibly.  “The biggest thing is to show that even after a three and a half year career break, you can go back to lead, lead the field, and do research like the colleagues around you” Hear how Tzany found her way back to her career as a nuclear physicist, balancing time to be with her precious boys with leading once again in her field, as well as helping other women return to their careers in science.   Subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts: ( Follow for free on Spotify: ( For advice, support, opportunities, and connection, see our Women Returners website: ( 

Apr 14

40 min 15 sec

Laura Murphy is an experienced programme manager in the tech sector, with a background in management consultancy at Accenture. She loved the variety, intensity and challenge of management consultancy but after the birth of her first child, took a career break to enjoy life at home with her new baby.  What she initially thought might be a 2-year career break turned into 9 years, as her second child came along, and Laura took the time to support her daughter’s learning needs as well as settle her younger son into school.   During her career break, Laura became involved in volunteering and charity work, which helped to rebuild her professional identity and give her valuable transferable skills for when she was ready to return to her professional career. In 2018, she joined Sky via their Returner Programme as Group Strategy Manager within their data technology and analytics team, then moved into a Programme Manager role, leading a large-scale business transformation. She credits her career break for helping her grow her resilience, patience, empathy and emotional intelligence, all strengths that have helped her to become ‘10 times’ the manager she was, and to empower and lead her new teams more effectively: “Parenthood is a huge part of that and why I'm successful in the job that I do today.” In 2020, Laura won a Timewise Power 50 2020 ‘Power Returner’ award, celebrating her achievement of working flexibly in a senior leadership role.  Hear how Laura found her way back to work, built up her confidence to make that application to Sky and became a fulfilled working parent. Subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts: ( Follow for free on Spotify: ( For advice, support, opportunities, and connection, see our Women Returners website: ( 

Apr 7

36 min 59 sec

Yemi Morgan-Raiwe is an experienced strategic project manager with a background in engineering. After relocating from Nigeria to the UK in 2001, Yemi moved into economic development and built a fulfilling career working in regeneration. She took a 5 year career break to look after an elderly relative and to foster, and also took the opportunity whilst on her career break to set up her own organic food manufacturing business! But after a few years, she realised that as good as she was at making food, her sales skills did not match up, and the time was right to look to return to her former career. However, Yemi found that the gap on her CV had become a barrier to finding work, and after a number of months out of work, found that this had began to take a real toll on her mental health. And then by chance, Yemi came across an e-newsletter from Enfield Council where she learned of their Returner Programme, and happily Yemi’s return to work journey began to take shape. When she saw the role offered, she felt that “It was everything that I wanted to do, everything that I like to do and everything that I was good at doing”. Four years later, and Yemi is flourishing back at work at Enfield Council, managing a project to build 10,000 homes for people to live and thrive. Hear how Yemi found her way back to work, conquered her doubts and found her sense of purpose again through her work, “It was like coming home because the work I was supposed to be doing finally aligned with my values”. If you need support with your mental health, see (Mind) for where to seek help Subscribe on Apple Podcasts: ( Follow on Spotify: ( For advice, support, opportunities and connection, see our Women Returners website: ( 

Mar 31

32 min 53 sec

Melissa Janvier is an experienced US lawyer with a background in financial services and public law. After relocating with her family to the UK in 2014 for her husband’s work, Melissa took a career break to settle her 3 young children into their new life. When her youngest started school, she decided the time was right to return to work but found the route back to law far more challenging than she initially imagined.  After a friend told her about (Women Returners), Melissa was excited to discover that the Bank of England was advertising opportunities to return to law as part of their wider returnship programme. She describes the joy of finding an opportunity that valued the skills and experiences she had gained during her career with an employer that recognised that her career break didn’t make her “any less of a lawyer”. She joined the 2019 programme and in March 2020, just as the UK went into its 1st lockdown, Melissa successfully completed her returnship and was offered a permanent role as Legal Counsel. Hear how Melissa navigated her return to work, in a new country with few networks and little support, and brought her transferable legal skills to the Bank of England. "I've settled into work in a way where, professionally, I feel like I am constantly learning and stretching and building my professional knowledge in a way that I hadn't envisioned before my career break." Subscribe on Apple Podcasts: ( Follow on Spotify: ( For advice, support, opportunities and connection, see our Women Returners website: (   

Mar 24

36 min 39 sec

Sarah McKelvie enjoyed a fulfilling career as a doctor, and her work in hospital medicine and general practice took her all over the world. When her 1st child was born in 2007, she thought she’d be back at work in 6 months, but 2 more children later and her 6 month career break turned into 12 years. During her career break, Sarah became immersed in various charity projects from fundraising to setting up football teams for children with cerebral palsy, for which she won a FA Grassroots Volunteers Award. Contemplating returning to medicine for a number of years, Sarah set up a Facebook Group to help build a community of support for doctors in a similar position. And then, galvanised by the call for doctors to return to work during the pandemic, Sarah found her way back, and now works full-time as a clinical fellow in geriatric medicine at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust. Hear how Sarah found the courage to return to medicine in one of the most challenging public health times of our generation and the journey she’s been on since, updating her skills, rebuilding her professional confidence and helping others navigate their way back too. "I was really under confident about working and as I even thought about going back to being a doctor, I just had this knot of anxiety in my stomach, thinking, 'Oh.. it's too big. I can't, I've forgotten everything'. I just couldn't see myself in that role. I couldn't see myself how I used to be. But very quickly by doing something, I felt more confident. Only by trying it did that confidence come back." Subscribe on Apple Podcasts: ( Follow on Spotify: ( For advice, support, opportunities and connection, see our Women Returners website: (   

Mar 17

32 min 55 sec

An early career in the military prepared Rachel well for the negotiations that lay ahead as a mum to 3 young boys! After 9 years at home with them, a little nudge from some former military friends encouraged Rachel to find her way back to work in 2015 through Tideway’s Returner Programme.  As an integral part of Tideway's ground-breaking engineering project to clean up the Thames, Rachel found that the skills she’d developed before and during her career break served her very well back in the workplace. Five years on, and Rachel now heads up HSEQ, leading on health, safety, environment and quality assurance for Tideway.  Find out how Rachel adjusted to taking on a new role after a long break, how she feels about being back at work and how her career has gone from strength to strength. Karen and Anna will highlight some key takeaways and tips from Rachel’s story to help and inspire you with your own return to work.  "I think an important thing that I've learned is that it's okay to be just me. I was just myself in interviews and I had nothing to hide and it obviously paid off. I think just being authentic is key to going back into a career." Subscribe on Apple Podcasts: ( Follow on Spotify: ( For advice, support, opportunities and connection, see our Women Returners website: ( 

Mar 10

32 min 4 sec

Take a listen to this trailer to find out more about the Career Returners Podcast. Karen and Anna from the Women Returners coaching team will be chatting to a wide range of women who are happily back at work after taking long career breaks. From a doctor to a lawyer to a nuclear physicist, these fantastic women share the ups and downs of their return to work stories and give practical advice to inspire other career returners.

Mar 4

1 min 33 sec