Deirdre's return proves an executive coach can come back as an executive leader

Taking a career break doesn’t mean giving up on your ambitions. Whether you’ve been caring for someone or travelled the world, we understand that you may just be hitting pause before restarting a fulfilling career.

In short, we value what returners bring back to us. They still bring all the experience they acquired before taking time out. What’s more, they often bring new skills and perspectives that benefit the business.

It’s with all that in mind that we created our returners initiative. We give people the support and flexible arrangements they need to renew their careers.

Putting the children first

“I knew if I took that promotion, I wouldn’t be the mother I wanted to be. I love work, and I knew I would be utterly focused on my job and it would absolutely be at the expense of my children. So I turned it down.”

Deirdre started her career in a new and exciting time for the industry. It was, she says, both fascinating and high-octane. Calculating risk across multiple trading desks, she used the latest technology to do things that hadn’t been done before. It set the tone for the rest of her career.

Deirdre went straight back to work after her first child. Then shortly after the birth of her second, she was offered a huge global promotion. And she took the difficult decision, but the one that was right for her - she said no.

Juggling work and family

This was a big turning point for Deirdre. On one hand, her whole career had been leading to this huge goal. She faced a choice between an incredible career opportunity and building a family, and she couldn’t make it work for everyone involved.

Soon after though, she was offered a job as a non-executive board director for an automotive company, one day a month for a couple of years, at a very senior level. One of the top 250 companies in the UK, it was totally different to her banking experience, and it was fascinating to see how different businesses operated.

After her third child, she retrained as an executive coach and set up her own business. Being her own boss allowed her to work around the children. It was a really interesting time as she had a steady stream of clients, many from the banking industry.

Pause for thought

But as a self-confessed extrovert, Deirdre didn’t enjoy working by herself. Then she was approached about a role that required 10 years technology experience and somebody who was qualified in working in leadership and development. This prompted her to start searching in banking again. But, much in demand, she ultimately decided to accept an offer from a former manager who offered some flexibility. She started working three and a half days a week, three in the office and one morning at home. Surprised by how quickly the industry had changed, she recalls how hard it was to fit everything into a shorter week.

“It was really challenging. One of the most difficult things I've ever done.”

A passion for managing people

“I do really love managing people. My team is now just under 200 people. I love developing people, I love watching people grow, and helping them be better at what they do.”

Deirdre started looking for a new job in 2018, after taking some time out to have her fifth child. Through her own network, she joined Deutsche Bank eleven months ago. One of the things that really stood out for her was how easy it was to find a challenging role while working four days a week, something other banks weren’t so accommodating of, and how big a selling point she believes this is for other women. And she was able to focus on one of her passions: managing people. What’s more, all her experience has come full circle, in that her experience raising five children, has, she says, actually made her a better, more successful manager.

“Being a manager is exactly like being a parent. It's all the same stuff. Feedback. Guidance. And I’d go further and say that all those parent skills that nobody teaches you makes you a better manager.”

It’s OK to take your time

Perhaps surprisingly though, for someone with such a strong career record, Deirdre is an advocate of taking your time and choosing your moments to push yourself hard – proof that you can have great success and a life outside it.

“Focus on just hanging on there at some points in your career. You don't have to be striving to be incredibly successful all the time. And, for somebody who has children under three, or is juggling about 65 things at home, I think that’s really valuable advice. You don't have to put yourself under pressure to do everything right now. Play the long game.”

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