News Archive


WiN UK speedmentoring success

WiN UK speedmentoring success Anna, attended a speedmentoring session when she returned from maternity leave, and got more than she was expecting.

“Empowering, inspirational and confidence-boosting - just what I needed after returning to work from maternity leave.”

After coming back from my maternity leave in September 2016 I was irritated. I returned to my old job in my old company which both remained the same, but I had changed. I noticed that things which were only mildly annoying before, now grew to astronomical proportion and were aggravating me each day: the ancient HR policies, lack of flexibility, outdated IT system, lack of relevant projects for me to get involved in, etc. As an ultimate ‘doer’ I was tired of complaining and I was desperate to change something in my circumstances. In the same time I was painfully aware that as a new mum, with a baby in the nursery, I wasn’t a very attractive candidate. At least that was what I thought at the time. Somehow my extensive education, charterships and international experience (Canada, Russia) were unimportant when faced with my inability to work full-time. And that realisation was crippling.

I found the Speedmentoring event a bit by accident. I had joined WiN UK before leaving for maternity leave and I was interested to see what they were up to and whether there were any activities which I could get involved in. The description of the event made it sound like just the thing I needed to regain my confidence. So without further ado I booked a place, took a half day leave and when the day arrived - jumped on a train to Bristol. I arrived and was immediately greeted by other ladies from WiN UK. I felt welcomed and all my anxieties melted away. As per instructions, I was prepared to ask mentors questions. Mine were focused on the hows and whens of discussing the topic of flexible working during an interview. I have spoken with 8 mentors, and all of them agreed on the following:

  • Don’t be afraid to apply for jobs, even if you don’t meet all or even 75% of the requirements. And most importantly, even if they are listed as full-time and you can are only available part-time. The specs are usually written based on a person who is leaving so they are more of a wishlist. You don’t know what the employers are looking for and what allowances they are willing to make for the right candidate;


  • Don’t start your interview with a discussion on flexible working. Wait until the end, when you are certain that the person on the other side of the table is determined to offer you the job and is willing to make significant allowance to have you on his/her team.

They also praised my qualification and skills, so after an hour I left the venue feeling 10 feet tall and invincible.

And as it turned out, less than two months after the event I was invited to an interview with one of the key global environmental consultancies. The job I was interviewed for was outside my comfort zone and was advertised as a full-time position. But I went to the interview anyway, eager to learn what in my background made them think that I would be a suitable candidate (in the same time trying very hard not to let my insecurities get the upper hand). After two hours of a friendly chat, when I felt that they were suitably impressed with my education, skills and experience, I tentatively broached the subject of flexible working. And guess what – it wasn’t an issue at all. I was offered the job, flexible working and opportunity to job share with an employee who had similar qualifications to me and who was just returning from her maternity leave. Did I know all of those factors before the interview? No.

Based on my story I would like to advise you to get active. Go to networking events (like the Speedmentoring event), conferences and seminars, and don’t be afraid to talk to likeminded people because you never know what you will learn. And apply for jobs you like. Be brave but be smart as well: highlight your achievements, put your skills in the spotlight rather than focusing on the difficulties. Let your employer see that you are a problem-solver and that you are ready to work with them to come up with a working arrangement which will benefit both sides. It is a two-way street after all.