Thursday, 23 January 2020

Gemma's story - changing from commercial property law to podiatry



Gemma changed career from commercial property law to podiatry. Here is her story...

I made the change to podiatry after working for ten years as a commercial property lawyer and after taking a two-year break following my second child. 


When my second child was born I decided that “if a job was going to take me away from my children, then it had better be something I really care about.” After researching a number of health professions I decided podiatry offered the combination of variety and flexibility I really needed in my life – as well as the satisfaction that would come from working with patients.

Today I work for the NHS in Greenwich, treating patients at a hospital clinic and out in the community. As a podiatrist, I’ve been able to change work patterns as circumstances have evolved. I’ve just restructured my working hours to a three day a week arrangement, spread across four days. It means I am able to collect my children from school three days a week.

Many podiatrists work privately, either within existing clinics or practices, or running their own business. It’s a great career to combine with childcare as you can keep the hours you need but still make a comfortable living.

The experience of a previous career where there was a less positive work-life balance makes me really appreciate my current situation more. I would say to anyone who is working, take your job and look at what the best bits are – and I bet you there will be a career in podiatry that offers those things and more but with far fewer of the drawbacks.

To practice as a podiatrist you need to be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council, which requires a degree in podiatry from one of 13 specialist university courses around the UK. Most school leavers will have A levels in science, but mature students – who have historically made up a large part of the intake for podiatry courses – may have alternative qualifications, as long as they can prove they meet the required standard.

I trained at the University of East London after taking evening classes and an Open University Course to get my science up to scratch. It’s not an easy transition, but a shortage of podiatrists at the moment means that newly qualified professionals are entering jobs immediately after graduating.

The more research I did into health careers, the more I realised that podiatry ticked all the boxes. I couldn’t find anything else that offered the variety: different avenues of progression with the ability to specialise, the job satisfaction in bringing immediate relief to patients and the flexibility in terms of being able to balance it with the rest of my life.


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Friday, 10 January 2020

Women Returners champions returnships in the North of England: Interview with Jude Harvey

Jude Harvey returnships in the North of England

Women Returners has just opened an office in Leeds led by Jude Harvey. In this blog, we talk to Jude about Women Returners' plans for expansion in the North of England.

Why has Women Returners decided to open an office in Leeds?

Quite simply because we want to champion the growth of returnships and supported hire programmes in the North of England. We've been working with organisations to help professional women return to work in the region for some time. Last year we ran the first cross-company return to law programme in Leeds and Manchester and we work with companies such as FDM, Mott MacDonald and Balfour Beatty on cross-UK programmes with opportunities in the region. We believe there's huge potential to bring the benefits of returnships to many more organisations and the highly skilled and experienced individuals who live in the North.

What is your focus for 2020?

I'm passionate about partnering with organisations to run more returner programmes in the North. Our vision is to make hiring of professionals who have taken an extended career break a normal part of regular recruitment. Large organisations here have the same challenges as everyone else, but they may have not used the solutions some of the companies in the South East have.

We'll be getting the word out that we're here - engaging with businesses and demonstrating how returnships can help tackle challenges around recruiting talent and impact inclusion and diversity. And we'll be making professionals who have taken a career break aware of what's available and how we can support them back into suitable-level roles. There are lots of localised groups and networks and we'll be tapping into these too to spread the word.

On Tuesday 17 March (9.30am to 10.30am) we're running a free Employer Webinar so that employers can learn more about the benefits of returner programmes. You can find out more and register here.

And I definitely want to encourage individual returners to join our free Women Returners Professional Network. They'll find lots of support and advice and will be the first to hear about new opportunities in their area.

What is your background?

I was born in Scotland and have lived in Leeds for 15 years - I'm married to a Yorkshireman. I worked in diversity and inclusion - and prior to that learning and development - for a number of years. While I was head of diversity and inclusion at a large telecoms company I looked at returner programmes which led me, naturally, to working with Julianne and the Women Returners team, as the experts in this area.

We worked together for about four years. I'd see women arrive at the beginning of the programmes we ran with little confidence but lots of talent and ability and then move confidently into permanent positions four months later. This was something that I personally found incredibly rewarding.

Having worked client-side, I understand some of the challenges that organisations face and can advise them on how Women Returners' solutions help address these.

I joined Women Returners in September last year and I'm hugely excited about our expansion plans.

Which geographical areas will you focus on?

We'll be focussing on growing programmes centred on the northern hubs of Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Leicester, York, Newcastle, Sheffield and Bradford as there are lots of key businesses in these areas.

Employers who are interested in learning more about returnships and how to recruit high-calibre professionals into their organisation should contact me at jude@womenreturners.com