I’ve been privileged to initiate the development of EY Reconnect in our Oceania region. The program was successfully piloted in London in 2016 and has now been rolled out across the EY's UK practice.
Here in Australia, we will be piloting the program in Perth and Sydney with the hope of expanding across Oceania in the future. This is the first program of its kind in Western Australia and one of the first across Oceania. I am so excited to see where this could lead and the opportunities it creates for those looking to return to their career.
My career started in the UK in 2005 and through a desire to explore the world in 2008, I found myself in Perth and have lived here ever since. In 2014, I joined EY to lead our Perth campus recruitment efforts and am delighted to have moved into the Oceania Diversity and Inclusiveness Recruitment Lead role in October 2017. Through this newly created position, I have a number of initiatives underway but EY Reconnect is a true passion of mine!
Through the connections we have as a highly integrated global organisation, it has been great to be able to leverage the experience of EY colleagues running similar programs and be able to bring this program to Oceania. Although I personally have not had a career break, many of my friends and family have and I am humbled to be able to offer this program to re-engage so many highly skilled women who can bring new ideas and perspectives to us.
To assist you, we wanted to run through some of queries we expect you may have about the program.
Why are we doing this program?
We have heard from a number of females that they feel it is challenging to get a job after taking a long break, let alone a role at a similar level as to when they left the workforce. Research tells us that some females won’t apply for a role unless they meet 100% of the criteria, and we also acknowledge that securing a flexible role is even harder to do when you have not worked for the company previously. That’s why we are running this program; a program that is specific for career returners providing an opportunity to come back on a short-term contract to see what works for them prior to hopefully being successful and transitioning into a permanent role with EY.
Why apply via a career returner program like EY Reconnect?
EY Reconnect gives you the opportunity to return to the workforce as part of a cohort - you will all start together as a small group in either Perth or Sydney and will attend the same induction day. From day one you will be part of a group, going through the same process, supporting each other and sharing the struggles you may experience re-balancing your work/ life commitments and getting back into a routine.
You will have the support of a buddy and counsellor assigned to you to ensure you get the internal support you need to assist with transitioning into EY and ensuring you get the right experiences in your initial 12 weeks to set you up for success.
We also collaborate with Flexcareers, who will be on hand to provide both group and personal coaching for you, the first session being within your first week to assist you to overcome any initial concerns. We want you to feel supported in this bold and confident move both internally and externally, allowing you to have the conversations and support networks around you to ensure your success.
Dependent upon the service line you join, you will receive relevant training to expand your technical and commercial skills.
Even if you have not worked in consulting before, it’s okay:
Many of our people have come from outside of consulting. The backgrounds of our people are becoming more varied day to day to ensure we have the right mix to serve our ever changing client needs. This starts right from the graduate level where STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and law degrees are becoming increasingly prevalent.
We have individuals joining EY who have previously worked in the health industry as project managers, small accounting or law firms, banks, technology development companies or resources companies – so not ex-EY or consulting. Although EY alumni and those from consulting firms are also encouraged to apply!
Professional and corporate skills DO come back:
We have recently had a returner with a nine-year career break join our Transactions Advisory Services team. Find out more about her story.
Coming back into a corporate environment does mean you will be collaborating with colleagues and stakeholders again, and you’ll need to get up to speed with the changes in the industry. Fortunately, EY has a large group of people, as well as a diverse range of capabilities and personalities, that you can lean on and learn from to assist with the transition back into this environment.
We won’t be expecting you to be fully adept after the 12-week program, but we think you will be feeling confident and almost up to speed through the in-depth induction, training and web-based learning you’ll do.
Is it really possible to have a flexible and client facing role when coming back to work after a break?
At EY, we are all comfortable with the idea of flexible working, whether that is through a formal or informal agreement. Many of our people work from home on an informal basis to be able to pop to a doctor’s appointment, pick up their child from school, attend a home opening etc.
Others may choose to start early and finish late or have a formal agreement in place to work part time. We trust that our people will get the work done. Find out more about how our people utilise our flexible work arrangements here.
Flexible working is not ‘one size fits all’!
EY have really put flexible working into practice - I also know this from my own experience. All of our people have the opportunity to undertake flexible work arrangements in order to have a successful corporate career and balance personal commitments and focus on the other thins in life that are important to them. We don't have a 'one size fits all framework' so instead offer a variety of solutions that suit different people’s lifestyles, needs and wants and at different times throughout their career. Find out more about our approach to flexibility here.
What about IT skills?
It’s true, technology may very well have moved on and changed a good few times during your career break, but most businesses today use email (Outlook or similar), which a lot of people use at home. You’ll more than likely be required to use Outlook or similar electronic calendar and instant messaging tools on your computer such as Skype for business.
A good idea is to refresh your skills with these tools by asking someone to give you some training and playing around with the tools so that when you start at work you are somewhat familiar with. This is the same with other Microsoft products including Excel, PowerPoint and Word. We will ask you during the recruitment process about your levels with different programs so that we can tailor the training to your needs.
What advice would you offer to someone who is considering returning to work?
I would encourage you to really think it through and be sure that you want to go back to work. Ask yourself what you want to do, what you want to get out of it and where you want to be afterwards. Will you be able to manage, say your family, children and home responsibilities or whatever you need to juggle, as well as going back to work and trying out new things?
Consider asking for insights from friends or family members who have returned to work, join webinars, read articles from our people about how they balance work and home life, and start to get a feel of what you could do or be doing.
If you’re not sure about whether to return or not, explore the opportunity, have a really good think about it and decide whether this is the right time for you and your loved ones. If you decide it is the right time, apply and give the process your full attention; this will help you to enjoy the experience and not regret your decisions.
I wish you the very best with your career return journey - should that be your decision.
If you missed out on this year's program you can join our talent community and be considered for future programs here.