Senior Product and Client Support Manager, aosphere
When I joined the firm as a PA in 1987, I never envisaged I would stay so long and enjoy such a varied career with A&O. With so many opportunities to develop and such a supportive team, I am delighted to be back working in the business after taking a nine-year career break.
I enjoyed my time as a PA, working in the corporate department, but when I took a secondment to the IT Service Desk, my career took a different turn. I progressed through various roles in the Service Desk to Manager. In parallel, I returned to college in my spare time to study various computer programming languages. This allowed me to take a role in the development team, using Visual Basic and other languages to create internal systems and databases. I then moved into business analysis and quickly progressed to Project Manager and then Programme Manager.
In the last role before my career break in 2009, I was working on secondment as the eBusiness Service Manager within aosphere. When the IT department went through a significant restructure, I made the timely decision to take a career break to enable me to spend time with my young son.
After a few years at home, I retrained as a rehabilitation massage therapist. I ran a thriving practice from home for around eight years, which fit perfectly around my family commitments. As A&O had been a big part of my life, I kept in touch with several of my former colleagues and attended annual Alumni events. When I received the email from the Alumni team inviting applications for the Return to Work programme, I knew the timing was right.
The Return to Work Programme provides a route back to work for experienced former A&O lawyers and practice support staff who have been on a career break for three or more years. During the six-month programme participants undertake technical and core skills training, update their knowledge and gain on-the-job experience working in one of A&O’s practice groups/departments.
I was thrilled that my application was successful, and I was encouraged to contact former colleagues to secure a viable role for the six-month duration of the programme. Although I was apprehensive about returning to the corporate world, I attended the one-day workshop and from that point on, I was determined it was the right time to return. I was delighted to hear that there would be a role for someone with my skills and experience, and within three months, I was working in London within aosphere again, in a role I thoroughly enjoyed.
My initial role within aosphere was to manage a project to launch new Data Service products, working with a third party data provider. Additionally, I was tasked with recruiting a monitoring team, which I was to manage and building a monitoring function, which automated the monitoring service and streamlined the processes to support our subscription-based services.
My contract was extended after the initial six months and was then made permanent. As Senior Product and Client Support Manager, I continue to manage aosphere’s data service products and the monitoring team together with the Client Support team.
I am very grateful for the opportunity that the Return to Work Programme gave me and to aosphere, a wonderful team to work within. For me, my return to work was made so much easier by the supportive team that welcomed me back so enthusiastically.
I am often asked to share my experiences with others considering a return to A&O. I remind them that they use more transferable skills in their daily lives than they realise, and have no reason to be nervous. I will never regret taking time out to spend with my son, but equally, it was wonderful to be able to return and pick up where I left off.