I'd been working freelance as a Financial Controller for many years, roughly 4 years ago I had taken a short planned break to deal with some private issues. Just when I was considering looking for a new role several tragedies affected my family, over a period of 2 and a half years.

My mother became terminally ill requiring regular care and support for about 7 months before she faded away, my father-in-law passed away and 2 cousins who I was very close to both died in their 50s. Then my brother had a serious car accident that resulted in him losing his licence for 6 months, so he became quite dependent on me in that period.

Also supporting the family whilst they dealt with their individual emotions along with coping with my own grief plus the challenge of dealing with complex estates and geographically dispersed properties. I found, emotionally or practically, neither the time to look for a new role or the ability to devote the time to make it a success, so I decided it would be more sensible to take a career break. But it went on much longer than I originally envisaged. In the end, it was just over 3 years before I sorted out all the various estates and was in a position where I felt able to consider returning to work.

This also gave me the opportunity to reflect and consider what was important in my life, particularly as I was a similar age at which my cousins above and my own father died. In the end I decided I was going to be best served by my going back to work. I went after new contracts, but recruiters said that my age and the career break would work against me.

Around this time, I contacted CABA to get some help with how I was presenting my services. I knew that they could help with CVs, networking and interview skills, and believed it made sense to get their input. They were fantastic and put me in touch with 2 different coaches. One really helped me re-frame my job search, define what I can offer and evolve my online presence, while the other helped me with my general self-confidence.

As a result, I was able to feel more comfortable about my age, and view myself positively as an older and more experienced employee. I remembered what I had to offer and it made me feel stronger. I went on some interviews and worked through the feedback from those with my coach. It reaffirmed my belief that I was receptive to new ideas, could use criticism constructively and resulted in enhancing my interview techniques.

I ended up with 2 job offers on the table, and I chose the one that I thought would best help me transition back into the workplace. Now I'm in a full-time post as a Financial Controller and it's a really interesting role. CABA were hugely helpful in my return to work and supportive in more ways than I could have imagined.

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CABA supports the wellbeing of past and present ICAEW members, ACA students, ICAEW staff members, and their spouses, partners and children up to the age of 25. For advice, information and support please contact us.