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Leaders in Heels spoke to Jo Zaharopoulos, Senior Legal Counsel at Salmat, who completed the Return to Work With Confidence program developed by Prue Gilbert of Prue Gilbert Consulting (who is also a Senior Associate of Xplore for Success), when returning to work part time after maternity leave. Return to Work with Confidence is a one-on-one coaching program enabling women to return to work from maternity leave confidently, flexibly and productively. Xplore for Success provides the program nationally and also via telephone as Associates are available in all major cities around Australia.
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According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, over the last decade, there has been a steady increase in the number of working mothers and it’s estimated that over half of all mothers with young children now participate in the workforce.
1. What motivated you to look for a program like Return to Work With Confidence from Xplore for Success?
As an in-house legal counsel, my role can be demanding and providing a high standard of service to my internal stakeholders is essential for me. I felt a little overwhelmed returning to work from maternity leave on a part-time basis wondering how on earth I was going to continue to meet the needs of my valued stakeholders, provide the same high standard of service in reduced hours and continue to be the best mum I could be for my little one. The Return to Work with Confidence Program provides a fantastic opportunity to assist in articulating your goals and professional vision with confidence whilst working with an inspiring mentor who has been through the same challenges of managing flexibility and a successful career. The Program helped me re-focus on identifying my key strengths and identifying what my personal and professional values were
2. Why did you choose Xplore to deliver the program?
I am fortunate to work for a company who invest in their people and our People and Culture Team offered me the opportunity to participate in the Return to Work with Confidence program when I mentioned I was finding the idea of adjusting from working full time to part time a little challenging. Prue is well respected and highly regarded in the field of gender diversity coaching and consulting, had previously provided consulting services for our Women in Leadership Council and the company Aspire program (which is designed to identify future leaders). She has such a warm and inspiring personality, and that Prue used to be a lawyer and understood the demands of an in-house legal counsel role was an added bonus for me.
3. What benefits did you immediately see/feel once starting on the program?
When you become a mother, you invest so much focus, love and energy into your children it is easy to forget that you are still an individual who has their own aspirations and values, and that these are not mutually exclusive to the role of being a wonderful mother. I returned to work on a part time basis and was juggling day-care drop offs, separation anxiety, mother guilt and trying to work out how I was going to be able to do my work in reduced hours, whilst continuing to maintain a high standard of service for my internal stakeholders whose relationships I value immensely. Taking the time out to consider what your strengths are and what is important to you personally and professionally is something you don’t really have the leisure of doing as a mother but is so essential to your productivity and success
After my first coaching session, I felt a real sense of direction, confidence and empowerment. The Program helped me re-focus on identifying my key strengths and identifying what my personal and professional values were. This exercise left me with an immense sense of confidence of what I had to offer and aspire to. Taking the time out to consider what your strengths are and what is important to you personally and professionally is something you don’t really have the leisure of doing as a mother but I feel is so essential to your productivity and success. Thankfully I work for an employer who recognised this and the value of investing in a coaching program like Return to Work with Confidence.skills I had developed in this amazing journey of motherhood including multi-tasking, communication, patience, problem solving and mentoring could be transferred to the workplace and enabled me to offer more to my employer and made me a greater asset than before I left
I realised many of the skills I had developed in this amazing journey of motherhood including multi-tasking, communication, patience, problem solving and mentoring could be transferred to the workplace and enabled me to offer more to my employer and made me a greater asset than before I left. The Program also enabled me to identify mentors who could support my professional vision. I also have a Manager who is strong, successful, incredibly intelligent and prepared to promote flexibility.
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4. What aspects of the program did you find most helpful?
Taking the time to stop and reflect to identify what is important both personally and professionally was one of the things I found really helpful. Return to Work with Confidence encourages you to identify and articulate your strengths, goals and values. This isn’t an exercise many of us have the leisure of taking the time to do but once you do it, the sense of focus and direction this delivers is invaluable. As Prue rightly puts it, there is nothing more powerful than being aware of your strengths and knowing what you care about. I also found her personal experience in managing a successful career and business whilst raising young children herself to be really motivating and inspiring.
5. How did you feel after completing the program?
The Return to Work with Confidence Program left me feeling such a strong sense of confidence, focus and determination. I realised it is okay to say that I love my job, it’s okay to have a career and professional aspirations and you can still be an amazing and committed mother at the same time. If you are seeking to return to work with flexibility, this inspirational and motivating program also provides valuable tips to create proposals that meet both organisational and personal objectives. You will walk away from this program knowing you can achieve anything you set your mind to.
Xplore for Success provides this program nationally and also via telephone as Associates are available in all major cities around Australia.
To book your session, please email Office@xplore.net.au or for more information visit http://www.xplore.net.au/
You can download the Return To Work with Confidence brochure at http://www.xplore.net.au/
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