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Returning to the World of Sales after a 17-Year Career Break

Women all over the world and across all industries are often the ones who have to make the difficult decision to pause their flourishing careers and be stay-at-home parents for many years. What do you do when the desire to return to work rises and you feel out of the professional loop? 

Annabelle Graniger found herself in that exact position and shares in her own words, the journey she undertook to re-enter the world of sales after a 17-year career break. 

So, what’s it like to return to work after a 17-year break? Truthfully? I have found it to be incredibly challenging, but also hugely enjoyable and rewarding. 

I left full-time work 17 years ago to have my daughter, as my sales job for IBM was not available to return to as a part-time post. My husband worked away a lot and it made sense for me to stay at home. A few years and another child later, I had begun to miss working but several things had become apparent as a mother to two young children. Childcare is expensive, children are not at school for three months of the year and their pre-school/school day is much shorter than a working day. A good salary is essential to both cover those childcare costs and still make a living.  

After a period away from work for a few years, it can be very hard to get back in, certainly, at the level, I worked at previously. By the time my children were at high school, I had lost confidence in my professional ability, and I felt that the working world had moved on.  

Returning to a well-paid, full-time job felt like an insurmountable task. I reached out to my network of former colleagues and friends. Even after such a long break I was touched and surprised by the offers of help.  

I was referred to VMware by Caroline, a former colleague, and friend from IBM, who had since moved on to work there. I had heard so many good things about the company from her and she was very happy and successful in her job. 

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After applying for the position, I hold today, as a Defence Sales Associate working in the Public Sector Team, I met Gil, who was amazing and is now my boss. He took me through a series of interviews with a sales scenario to work through. I had to lead a sales meeting and then return to present my solution, recommending VMware products. I had never worked in software, I didn’t know anything about Defence and my sales skills were, at best, rusty!

It was such a fantastic opportunity for me that I put everything into that interview process. I was terrified but very determined. I did my research, and preparation and I got the job! I’m so proud of what I have achieved, and can honestly say that this role has changed my life. It has given me confidence, financial independence and I have taught my children what can be achieved through hard work and determination. 

I can happily report that the working world has moved on from seventeen years ago, but in a much more positive way than I had imagined. I used to believe that you had to have worked for a company for a few years to ‘earn the right’ to flexibility, but that is no longer true. Things have changed significantly in recent years, with more focus on work/life balance and employee wellbeing

The very technology that VMware makes (Workspace ONE) enables people to work from anywhere.  I was recruited into a supporting role, and I have a great working relationship with my team and my management.  When I met my wider team, a common phrase used was, “Everyone is busy, but no one is too busy to help, just ask!” We connect as a team regularly and it is a very supportive environment. 

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There are so many things I love about my job but what I love most is the people that I meet through my role. I am a people person, and I am fortunate enough to meet exceptionally talented people with interesting jobs and backgrounds regularly.  

My role has taken me from dinners at the Savoy to meeting MOD VIPs at Salisbury Plain in the mud. Both have been great experiences, but I know which I prefer!  

My favorite element of VMware’s culture is the value I feel as an employee. I have felt very supported during the pandemic with additional leave given and funds for equipment to work from home. I have always felt that the leadership at VMware cares for its people. 

As a woman in tech, I am proud to work for VMware because of the focus placed upon diversity, equity, and inclusion within the core company values. VMware recognizes that diversity is key to successful business outcomes.  

I am excited to be working with a great team at VMware on a brand new initiative to recruit women returners into permanent roles on a supported hiring program. The program seeks to support women through the interview process right through to the end of their 12-month probationary period. It’s something I am really proud to be a part of.

I am hugely grateful for that initial referral that I was given, and I am keen to help other women who are currently facing that seemingly insurmountable task of returning after a break. If I can help someone who was in a similar position to me to achieve successful employment and all the rewards that come with it, then that will be my proudest achievement so far. 

Check out some of VMware’s non-traditional hiring programs here.

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