After taking a long career break to raise her children, Annie Beaver’s excitement to return to work was crushed when she fell ill. But Successful Mums continued to empower Annie through her cancer diagnosis and the pandemic, resulting in an exciting career opportunity for the mum-of-two.
“Before having my two girls I worked for 15 years in the TV industry. It was very long days and quite stressful, but I loved it. When I got pregnant with my first daughter, Lyra, my partner Alex and I decided that one of us should stay at home to look after the baby. It made perfect sense for me to temporarily put my career on pause until my daughter reached school age.
We were blessed with a second daughter, Imogen, and I had an amazing time bringing up my two girls. Although it felt like a job in itself I honestly loved every second. Time went by in a flash and when Imogen turned five and started school I decided it was the right time to return to work. Money was also very tight so the added financial pressures spurred me on to find some courses to help me on my way.
The world was my oyster and I felt excited about what lay ahead. But after attending a course that was very badly run, I left feeling disheartened. Fortunately, things changed after discovering Successful Mums in early 2019. They were running day seminars where you could go along and talk to the team about your options and find out more about the courses they offer. Jane, the founder of Successful Mums, was so inspirational and completely understood the barriers that I and other mums who had been out of work for so long were facing. She had tangible, valid suggestions of places I could go to for further support and was completely holistic in her approach. The rest of her team were equally amazing and I came away from the seminar feeling empowered and positive.
“Jane and all the team at Successful Mums are fighting the good fight from mums like me. It’s all about women helping and empowering women.”
With the support from Successful Mums, I was finally getting things where I wanted them to go. But, things quickly fell apart after I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Fortunately, it was caught early and hadn’t spread. As part of my treatment, I had to go through six weeks of daily radiotherapy which was really tough and I moved on to tamoxifen at the end of 2019.
By the following February, I was finally starting to feel physically strong and just starting to get back on my feet when the pandemic hit. That year and 2021 were a complete write-off for me. In April 2020, my best friend Sarah, who was diagnosed with breast cancer six months before me, tragically died. We had been friends since we were 11 and spoke daily. I was in a low, mental place throughout the whole of the pandemic but losing Sarah was truly the worst thing of all. At this point in time, I wasn’t thinking about getting back to work. I was mourning the loss of my dearest friend and living in fear that the cancer was going to come back.
Time ticked on and my confidence took a massive dive. But I wasn’t alone; after telling Jane about my cancer diagnosis she emailed to check in on me, despite having never met her. She also regularly emailed me to tell me what support was available should I feel ready to return to work again. At no point did I feel bombarded; she intuitively knew how often to contact me and the tone and pace was exactly right. Everything was perfectly pitched.
Due to restrictions, Successful Mums had diversified into webinars so I enrolled on a few – one around building confidence, some practical CV advice and another which focussed on menopause. The tamoxifen I am taking causes debilitating menopause-like symptoms. Physically I’m experiencing chronic fatigue and bone pain. It’s not great for my mental health; I suffer with brain fog and I worry that I’m not operating at my full self. That makes it very hard when you are looking to get back into work after 10 years away.
The webinars are so empowering and informative. Jane introduces brilliant guests who focus on the practical side of returning to work. But it’s so much more than that; the support is holistic and Jane completely understands women’s mental health and the barriers that can present when you are trying to get back to the world of employment. There is a diversity in the clients that Jane helps and she is there for you irrespective of your background. She is a beacon of light blinking away.
After a very turbulent three years, the support that I received from Successful Mums, as well as some amazing ‘getting back to work after cancer’ career coaching I received, gave me the motivation to reach out to an old industry contact and I am delighted to say that I am now back, albeit temporarily, working in TV production two days a week. This has only happened by women helping other women and people being aware and empathetic to the challenges that women face when returning to work after a long career break.
It’s taken a long time but my story now has a positive turn. I recently read that a high percentage of brilliant, amazing and highly skilled women never go back to working in the TV industry after having children. That, for me, is heartbreaking. Women returners are huge assets to the workplace. As mums, we have so many transferrable skills and after raising my children, this can only increase my skill set, not detract from it. But it’s really hard to make mothers see how that is the case. That’s why Jane’s work is so important. Jane and the team at Successful Mums are fighting the good fight for mums like me. It’s all about women helping and empowering women. The work they are doing to support employers with their inclusivity agenda is crucial and goes hand in hand. There is no point in building women’s confidence on one side and launching them like a rocket into a workplace that has no understanding of flexibility or women’s health. Working mums will perform so much better if they don’t have the constant worry of childcare or health issues that are out of their control.
This isn’t the end of the road for myself and Successful Mums. I plan to complete a course on autism awareness and another on digital skills. And more importantly, I will continue to sing their praises and recommend them to other mums I know as a thank you for everything they have done. I will forever be grateful.”
However long your career break has been, Successful Mums Career Academy is here to help you make a new start with confidence. Apply today to secure your place on one of our fully-funded courses here.