Making the transition from full-time mum to Senior Manager with Vodafone’s ReConnect
By Deborah Ginja, Senior Global Transformation Programme Manager | Vodafone Group
A note from Helen Lamprell, Corporate & External Affairs Director, Vodafone UK
I’m delighted to introduce Deborah Ginja, who joined Vodafone Group in 2014 via the forerunner to what is now our ReConnect programme. Building on the 2015 launch of Vodafone’s pioneering global maternity policy, ReConnect is designed for women and men who are looking to return to work after some time away, often to raise a family, or to care for an elderly parent. We created ReConnect because we understand how daunting it can be, having to worry about renewing professional connections and updating skillsets, and we want to make the recruitment process as simple and stress-free as possible. Unlike many other such programmes, ReConnect offers a permanent job rather than an internship.
Last week, speaking at a reception in Parliament to celebrate four years of the Women’s Business Council, Deborah told the inspiring story of her journey back into the workplace after taking a career break to raise her daughter full-time. Anyone who’s been on this same journey will surely relate to Deborah’s story, and her experience preparing to re-enter the workforce. Deborah described how Vodafone’s ReConnect programme helped boost her confidence and restart her career, and today she’s thriving. I’m really proud that Vodafone was able to help, and I hope Deborah’s story, which appears below, will inspire future ReConnecters.
If you’d like to learn more about ReConnect, please join us at Atlas Business Park in Wythenshawe on 9 November, between 1pm and 7pm. We’ll host a careers fair with a number of companies advertising vacancies, offer career skills workshops as well as opportunities to network, and more. This is the first in a series of events we’ll be running around the country over the coming months, so if you’re looking to reboot your career in a different location, do look out for updates – you can follow our Careers Twitter channel @VodafoneUKLife, follow us on LinkedIn, or search our Careers page. In the meantime, if you’re in the Manchester area and would love to learn more about how we’re helping talented women like Deborah return to work when the time is right, please do join us on 9 November.
“It has been a win-win situation. Vodafone has helped me find a fulfilling new career, and in return Vodafone has gained a motivated and experienced Senior Manager to help them take their business into the future” – Deborah Ginja, Senior Global Transformation Programme Manager, Vodafone Group
Today I’m Senior Global Transformation Programme Manager at Vodafone Group, managing multi-million pound programmes for one of the best known brands in the UK. But just three and a half years ago, I hadn’t bought a new business suit in ages and the world of corporate life seemed in my past. Back then, I couldn’t have possibly imagined that I would be where I am now. Let me share with you how I made the transition from full-time mum to full-time Senior Manager – and how Vodafone’s ReConnect programme helped me return to the workplace after I took a career break to raise my daughter.
First, I’ll go back to the beginning of my career. After graduating I started work for companies such as Esso Petroleum and Goldman Sachs. My career progression led me to a fabulous job working for KPMG as a management consultant where I worked all over the world for a variety of clients, eventually moving into running my own consultancy company working for Marks and Spencer and a variety of banks throughout Europe. I was managing teams of 250 people and was fully immersed in corporate life.
At the mid-career point I started a family and made a life-changing decision to become a full time mum. I really enjoyed the change of pace and lifestyle, and as the years went by, my friends and family assumed I would never go back to full-time work. Whilst my daughter was young I dabbled in online sales, running a franchise and document writing and proof reading for a variety of companies, but all these roles were part-time and from home. The world of corporate business seemed a very distant memory.
In September 2014, my daughter started secondary school. I had been away from corporate work for several years by now, and with time on my hands, I wanted more of an intellectual challenge. Part of me wanted to go back to full-time work, but I despaired of ever finding anything. I had no current CV, no knowledge of the current market place and my confidence was pretty low. Who would ever offer me a job? What on earth would I say in an interview? Surely employers would write me off straight away as I had no recent experience.
I had changed from the confident successful business woman I used to be and couldn’t see how to get back. It seems crazy now, but the task ahead of me seemed impossible. I couldn’t see how to take the first step.
Then one day I heard a radio ad that changed my life.
The ad was searching for people who had taken a career break and now wanted to get back into corporate life, but were uncertain how to achieve it. Anyone who was interested could attend a Vodafone Open Day in Newbury to find out more.
So I took the first step to attend the Open Day at Vodafone HQ and haven’t looked back. It turned out that this Open Day was part of an initiative now known as ReConnect.
At the Open Day I met several people who had joined the scheme the year before and now had permanent, wonderful new roles. One lady I met said that twelve months before, she had been just like me – a full-time mum with a previous career who was keen to get back to work, but unsure how to go about it. Yet now she was working as a project manager and was thriving in her new role. She was busy, happy and fulfilled. It was so encouraging meeting her and other people like her, to see what could be possible. She was very complimentary about how Vodafone had supported her throughout the transition.
I was inspired by the Open Day, and so I applied for and was offered a place with others on the scheme and started in 2014. I was offered two three-month assignments working alongside programme managers to find my feet. Unbelievably, after only a couple of weeks, I felt I had never been away. The years rolled back and my confidence returned. During the six months, we had workshops on CV preparation, interview skills and other useful topics, and were encouraged to apply for permanent roles at Vodafone. We were offered numerous online and face-to-face training courses and had access to specific Vodafone staff who were there to answer our questions, help us network and make connections and support us throughout the process. It was a great experience.
After the initial six-month contract, with the support of the initiative, I successfully applied for a Senior Global Transformation Programme Manager role and started full-time in 2015. Since then I have managed a portfolio of Finance Operations programmes for our Enterprise customers, followed by leading a multi-million-euro global programme. I am about to start a new phase of my career as part of a new Enterprise Finance Transformation team. I really enjoy my work, and I have renewed energy, drive and passion for what I do.
Restarting my career with the help of ReConnect
I wouldn’t have swapped the years I had with my daughter, but I feel lucky that I have been able to restart my career with Vodafone thanks to this amazing scheme. It has been a win-win situation. Vodafone has helped me find a fulfilling new career, and in return Vodafone has gained a motivated and experienced senior manager to help them take their business into the future.
It seems strange to say now as I can’t imagine my life without the job I so enjoy, but without Vodafone offering this type of opportunity, I’m not sure I would have returned to corporate life. The training, support and confidence building forums have been invaluable. It’s great that Vodafone’s ReConnect programme is now available to so many women like me all over the world, and that over 1,000 women across 26 countries will be offered a similar experience over the next three years. I am very proud to work for a company that offers this opportunity.
With Reconnect, up to 500 women on career breaks will be recruited into management roles over the next three years, accounting for around 10% of all Vodafone external management hires over that period. In addition, Vodafone will recruit up to 500 women on career breaks into a range of frontline roles.
There are many women on career breaks who would love to get back to work, and I think that companies are starting to realise that this is a great untapped source of experienced and motivated professionals ready and available. The Vodafone Reconnect scheme has changed my life and I do hope that other companies set up similar schemes so that other women like me can benefit from the same type of opportunity.
About Vodafone UK
Vodafone is one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies and provides a range of services including voice, messaging, data and fixed communications. Vodafone has mobile operations in 26 countries, partners with mobile networks in 48 more and has fixed broadband operations in 17 markets. As of 31 March 2017, Vodafone had 515.7 million mobile customers and 17.9 million fixed broadband customers. For more information, please visit: www.vodafone.com.
Vodafone UK partners with businesses of all sizes - from start-ups and small businesses to the largest corporates and the public sector. The company has worked with UK businesses for over 30 years, starting out as a mobile provider and becoming one of the UK’s leading total communications partners. It provides a range of voice and data services, secure communications infrastructure, fixed and call centre capability, and unified communications, and was the first mobile phone operator to offer a truly converged service for fixed and mobile.
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