Careers after maternity

Back Careers after maternity

I returned to work, a new Mum with a young baby. I quickly learned how much could change in such a short space of time. The organisation had grown with differing objectives, people and leadership; Technologies had enhanced beyond my understanding; our cyber security portfolio had hugely evolved. Everything felt like it was headed in a new direction except me. I felt I had lost my career ambition and so set about identifying the next career step. I knew I needed a progression plan and that this would need organisational buy in. So, with a cup of tea in hand, I begun.

I started with, and spent a lot of time on, personal reflection. I gained 360 feedback from colleagues, identifying my strengths and weaknesses. I drilled down on what I personally enjoyed doing and what aspects of my role and lifestyle I wouldn’t want to lose. I built these into a self-reflection deck, which I shared with my leader. He agreed with my findings and stressed my career should feed off my all the positives and enhance them! Once I had that affirming boost, I set about identifying areas of the business that would be interested in my skillsets and, planned to foster relationships within them.

Networking via mentorship. I found mentors both across my organisation, and externally via events like Women in Tech. It was important to get as many varied opinions as possible, as they helped define and expand my plan. I found the greater the mentorship span, the greater the network that followed. Before I knew it, I had fostered many new relationships across the cyber security community, many of which has been started by a mentor introduction. All these people now knew my name and capabilities. They all wanted to help me and see me succeed.

Training. I knew early on I had skill gaps. Through all my conversations, I had learnt I wanted to be in a technical role which required qualifications. My leader had been happy to sponsor my courses, and so it really was a matter of adjusting my mind to studying again. I focussed hard, worked during the day and studied at night once my daughter went to bed. Although it was intense it paid off. I was surprised in the end how capable I was. Believe me up until the first successful exam result, I felt my brain was made of tired Mummy goop!

So where did these basic steps leave me? Yes there was a lot of investment on my part, but as I write this today I feel so empowered! I know where I want to go. I know who I can leverage and that my colleagues and mentors believe in me. I have a pipeline of events and training to look forward to this year that will inevitably give me even more motivation to succeed. I am not at the ultimate role yet, but there is a plan and the organisation believe in it.

My advice to you- be brave and be bold. If you are sat at your desk wishing for more, then do something! If you want to network, if you want to do a course, if you have a ‘dream role’, then stop holding yourself back. Get a few good mentors under your belt, start talking to others, and you will get that buzz. Get a plan and work towards it.

Being a Mum is the best, but knowing when she is older she will know I remained successful, driven and motivated regardless of having a family, will hopefully empower her to be the same when her time comes. Your career goals do not have to stop, if you step out to have a family.