I promised you we’d dig deep into Credit Suisse’s Real Returns program and I’m about to deliver on that promise big-time! Back to Business conducted interviews with 4 Real Returns participants and they have given us some great insight into what it’s like to participate in the program. I can’t wait to share it all with you: You’ll hear about every part of their return-to-work experience, including how they knew they were ready to return to work and what their first day was really like.
Real Returns…It’s For Real
Here’s the summary: This program is a fantastic path back to work if you’ve got a career break. Your opinion is valued, your experience is respected, and you are set up for success within a supportive community of relaunchers and mentors. Read on for the details from Sally, Sreedevi, Tatyana and Krithika.
The women interviewed for this article had career breaks ranging from 5 to 29 years. Sally, Tatyana, and Krithika had experience in financial services prior to taking their career break, while Sreedevi had experience in software development.
Real Returns values all kinds of work experience and Credit Suisse strives to put program participants into a role that will draw on the skills they already possess as well as challenge them to expand their skill set.
Even if you don’t have experience in financial services, consider applying. According to Credit Suisse’s Katherine Tallent: “an interest in the financial industry and a willingness to learn are the biggest qualities we look for.”
Tell Me More!
Let’s walk through the Real Returns experience with these ladies from start to finish.
These women made great use of their career breaks! Sally spent almost all of her time out of the paid workforce leading philanthropic organizations in her community. Sreedevi was the software developer in the group, and knew that it was important for her to keep her skill set fresh so she attended training and completed professional certifications during her free time in order to be ready to relaunch her career. “I am always in touch with the latest technology,” she said.
Each of these relaunchers knew the importance of refreshing their skills and highlighting their community-based activities to prepare them to return to work. Krithika reskilled with LinkedIn Learning and by completing a certification in Finance. She also did some skill-based volunteering to get experience working in an office environment. In addition, she attended a return-to-work conference where she learned ways to prepare herself and met a lot of people who were transitioning back into the workforce after a break.
“It was very inspiring to hear from people who have been down the road I just started to walk on! All of this plus my added enthusiasm to work helped me feel recharged and ready to go back to work.”
Lesson Learned: You’ll need current skills to return to work and there are lots of ways to get them!
How They Knew They Were Ready
After extended career breaks, there came a time when they each knew that returning to work should be their next step. In one case, a change in life circumstances was the catalyst, for another it was that her kids were grown. Two of our relaunchers wanted to return to work because it filled important needs for them:
“I missed being around business people and getting tasks and accomplishing them” said Tatyana.
“My time away from work made me realize how much I missed working in a corporate environment and the feeling of being an independent woman,” said Krithika.
Applying for Real Returns
Applying for Real Returns was a straightforward process for these women and they invested time and energy into their applications and interview preparation.
Sally says: “I worked very hard on the application; updated my resume using a professional service. The interviews were panel style and behavioral; I did extensive research about Credit Suisse and various roles within the firm. There was a lunch hosted by CS and I used that opportunity to network.”
Krithika had a similar experience with her application:
“The Credit Suisse Real Returns program application and interview process was seamless and I felt instantly connected with everyone I spoke to during the process right from my recruiting business partner to my hiring manager. Applicants are given the opportunity to choose their areas based on their interests to explore. I had a great discussion with my hiring manager during the interview process and gained more insight about the team and the project that I might work on.”
First Day Jitters?
Then the big day comes – The first day back at work after an extended career break! This is an important life moment and these women were certainly up to the challenge.
Shreedevi spent some time preparing her kids for the transition and was pleased that they seemed ready and supportive as she returned to work.
Krithika’s Raleigh Real Returns 2020 program was 100% virtual due to covid and while she was both excited and a little bit nervous on her first day back to work, she was pleased with how well the program was run: “The way the virtual program was organized and conducted is extremely commendable.”
Here’s Sally’s take on her first day, which really illustrates the importance of finding the right job and company: “I was excited and not nervous. Credit Suisse was very supportive; I remember at the end of my first day almost bursting into tears because I knew CS was the right “home” for me to re-launch and build my career.”
Lesson Learned: Don’t believe the hype that getting back to work has to be a crazy time for you or your family. With the proper preparation and the right mindset, this transition can be an exciting time of growth for everyone involved!
Mentorship Makes A Difference
One of the Real Returns perks that makes the experience special is being assigned a mentor to rely on for help. Each of these women had a productive relationship with their mentor and credited them with being an invaluable source of support and guidance. Here, in their own words, are some reflections on their mentor relationship:
Sally: “The best part about Credit Suisse Real Returns has been the connection with a “buddy” and a “mentor”. I still maintain both relationships and have benefitted greatly from the stewardship and guidance I have received. My Mentor supported a very wide spectrum: culture at CS, career advice; personality management; sounding board for presentations, supplier of additional resources for presentations, networking, advice on negotiating strategy and strategy regarding finding a conversion role. We met initially once a month and then on an as-needed basis.”
Krithikta: “My Credit Suisse mentor is very encouraging, helpful and available to talk whenever I asked for advice. We discussed effectively networking virtually and building relationships.”
Tatyana: “My mentor Christina is an amazing person. She was always available for me in case I needed her. We discussed my progress in adjusting to the working environment…I could reach out to her any time. She was always open to help and support me and I received lots of wise advice from her. She helped me a lot.”
Training is another important component of Real Returns and each of the women we interviewed mentioned that the training helped them assimilate into their new roles.
Training topics included software systems, hard skills, leadership, and career development training. Importantly, the training exposed participants to leaders from different departments at Credit Suisse, which helped participants understand where their team and role fit into the big picture and gave them exposure to people that helped them build their professional networks.
In addition to the formal training sessions, Krithika benefitted from informal learning opportunities on her team: “I received excellent on the job training that helped me be successful with my project work.”
The Insider Perspective – Beyond Real Returns
After the formal program ended, each of these women was able to transition successfully into a position at the bank. Sally is currently an Assistant Vice President (AVP) Securitized Products Operations Control Team Management. Tatyana is a Business Analyst, CS Regulatory Services. Krithika is an AVP Regulatory Reporting. Sreedevi’s title is AVP GCP DA Production Support.
Sally and Sreedevi leveraged the connections they made on other teams at the bank to secure their roles, while Tatyana assumed a position with the team she worked on during Real Returns. Krithika moved into a position on the IHC Regulatory reporting team where she works on the bank’s quarterly reports.
A Few Of My Favorite Things
I wanted to know what each person’s favorite part of Real Returns was and they did not hold back! Here’s what they told me:
Sally: “The access to absolutely anything I was interested in. We are encouraged constantly to reach out to anyone, regardless of position, to satisfy our curiosity. I also loved the autonomy I was given with the project I was assigned; I was allowed to stretch my knowledge and skillset in its completion and presentation.”
Sreedevi: “My favorite things in the Real Returns program are meeting with the cohort every week, networking sessions, and training sessions.”
Tatyana: “It helped me to get back to work smoothly and easily, without stress. With participation in the Real Returns Program, I got back confidence that I lost due to the break in my career. I received support and was provided with all the needed information and knowledge that helped me to demonstrate that I can become a valuable team member for my group. It was also a great opportunity to meet people who are professionals and to learn a lot from them. I am very thankful to Credit Suisse for the opportunity.”
Krithika: “I enjoyed everything about the program from the networking sessions, to being a part of a wonderful cohort and working on a project with an amazing and talented team where I got to learn a lot and experience the professional environment once again.”
This Could Be Your Next Chapter!
So there you have it: the complete stories of 4 Real Returns participants! I found their insights valuable and was cheering these women on as I wrote this up.
If your career break was at least 2 years, consider applying to Real Returns and joining Sally, Tatyana, Sreedevi and Krithika. Returning to work at a company that values all of your experience, including the time you spent out of the paid workforce, can be an exciting next chapter in a successful career.
Thanks to Sally, Tatyana, Sreedevi and Krithika for sharing their stories with the Back to Business community!
Learn more about Real Returns here.