An inspiring journey back to the workplace

Before my career break of eight years, I had worked for a major technology company for 14 years and had two Masters degrees under my belt.

Click image to zoom Tap image to zoom

Chandna (second from right) with colleagues in Bengaluru.

However, as I attempted to return to the workforce, I struggled to find a suitable job for my skillset and experience. I was finding it hard to even get through the initial recruitment phase because my resume had a gap of several years while I was supporting my family.

“This goes to prove that adversity and time away from work is not necessarily a deterrent for your career. You can come back stronger than ever if you’re given the right support and encouragement.” 

But I knew I had these great skills and experience to offer.

That’s why I was so pleased to discover the ANZ Return to Work program. The program offers best-in-class opportunities, a wonderful work environment and flexibility of days and hours in order to support the other areas of your life.

ANZ and the program offered me the scaffolding I needed to make a soft landing back into the corporate world. And it paid off. In recognition of my skills and abilities, I was promoted to Analyst Chapter Lead in the technology division within 19 months of joining the bank.

This goes to prove that adversity and time away from work is not necessarily a deterrent for your career. You can come back stronger than ever if you’re given the right support and encouragement.

Untapped talent

The ANZ Return to Work program is unique among big companies in India. However, it’s starting to become more commonplace across the industry because there's a lot of competition for talent – particularly among technology companies who are competing for a finite pool of qualified staff.

In 2023 alone ANZ will welcome over 40 new employees via the program, across Technology, Commercial, Institutional and Retail. Of that group 57 per cent will be based in Australia and 43 per cent in India.

More than 70 per cent of them are returning after taking a career break to care for family and about 40 per cent have been out of the workforce for more than five years.

It's an untapped resource because so many highly qualified women – and men - take a career break to raise children or help their families. This can lead them to be out of the workforce for some time, resulting in a significant gap in their resume.

Nonetheless, these people are talented and, given the right support, will make a big contribution to any company they join.

A supportive environment                                                                                      

The encouragement and guidance provided by ANZ was invaluable in ensuring I made a successful comeback to the workforce. One great feature of the program was how we were each assigned a life or career coach.

My career coach was based in Australia and she held my hand for three months to make sure I was comfortable, not just professionally, but also psychologically to handle the pressures of work.

There was a big focus on empowering women and helping them stand by themselves and be independent.

The culture at ANZ in India is great. There is an emphasis on fun, family, and well-being. I feel like I'm taken care of and I’m given time and support to focus on my family, my psychological safety and my wellbeing.

And I know that my experience is the experience of many women who have been through the Return to Work program.

Click image to zoom Tap image to zoom

Chandna with her family/husband and children

ANZ’s Return to Work program:

First launched in 2019, ANZ’s award-winning Return to Work program is designed for individuals who have taken a career break for two or more years (for any reason) or who have been significantly under-employed and would like support in the transition back into the workforce.

The program was the first of its kind in the Australian financial services industry and has since been replicated by many other companies, including other major banks.

The retention rate of candidates who participate in the program is more than 80 per cent, surpassing industry benchmarks for average tenure when combined with our broader early talent program.

This year we received a staggering 2,500 applications for the program. Our new Return to Work participants will begin at ANZ on 17 July 2023.

Carina Parisella, Innovation & Diversity Editor at bluenotes


Chandna Bhatnagar is Journey Expert Chapter Lead in ANZ Bengaluru

Edit text here

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

editor's picks

01 Mar 2023

Fighting for many happy returns

Carina Parisella | Innovation & Technology Editor, bluenotes

The barriers preventing women re-entering the workforce are stronger than ever. Here is how to fight it.

07 Mar 2023

Great barrier breached

Richard Yetsenga | Chief Economist, ANZ

Holding back women in the workforce means holding back society. Change is evident but more needs to be done.