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Do you know the feeling of bitter disappointment, when you are deeply convinced of something and then reality proves you wrong? I do! Career and family – these two things run parallel for me; I was absolutely convinced of that. After starting my family, I wanted to gradually start back to work again, so I reduced my full-time position in a bank as Client Relationship Manager to a part-time workload for a few months. I didn’t want to concentrate only on being a mother. And no, I didn’t feel guilty about any slack my team apparently would need to pick up on my behalf, as one of my superiors once insinuated.
Nevertheless, I was gradually put on the professional sidetrack, subliminally and without an open exchange. How could such an injustice happen? Just because I had offspring didn’t mean I was suddenly sick. My brain was still functioning excellently. One thing led to another and I decided to quit my job. Today I wonder, though, if I should have fought more back then.
Bye bye Switzerland
Then an exciting opportunity opened up for our family. My husband was able to gain a professional foothold in America, so we moved to the U.S. Later we moved to Germany, and after a total of seven years abroad, we returned to Switzerland. What a great adventure! For seven years, I was almost exclusively at home with my family, because I didn’t have a work visa in the U.S., and I lacked a professional network in Germany. However, I was able to gain some great experience through various exciting part-time positions in volunteer work. Nevertheless, I was still living the typical family-female life. The adventure slowly came to an end, when we returned to Switzerland, bought a house, and I lived happily ever after with my great husband and two healthy children. Well, not quite.
The restlessness within me grew and grew – I felt the need to work again. This wish didn’t seem to be easy to fulfill, even though I had a good network and a great supportive environment. At the same time, I was also struggling with a bad conscience. I had everything and yet I was dissatisfied. And increasingly so, the longer I went without a job. So I was feeling guilty on top of everything else. Couldn’t I just be grateful for what I had? Self-pity olé! With each rejected application a little more.
But this time I wanted to keep fighting. My time abroad had shown me that my desire to work was not abnormal. Mothers work in other countries and nobody classifies them as bad mothers. I also wanted to be a good role model for my children. It struck me that my daughter and son had the classic role models of a man and a woman and thus had the feeling that this was the only right family model.
Back to Business
My goal: My situation had to change! I spontaneously decided to register for the advanced studies programme “Women Back to Business” (www.es.unisg.ch/wbb) at the University of St.Gallen. There, in addition to acquiring exciting management expertise, I also received coaching, where I was able to work on my self-confidence and learn how to position myself and sell myself better.
I even managed to build on my previous career as a banker and find employment at a private bank. Later I changed my profession, and now I am head of the Women Back to Business programme. It gives me great satisfaction to support women who want to restart their careers or reposition themselves professionally – just like I did six years ago.
So I finally reached my personal goal. I can share the duties of raising my children with my husband, and I have his full support. As far as the equality of men and women is concerned, I think there is still a lot to do. Unfortunately, we are still far behind here in Switzerland. When I started working again, I had to listen to things like, “Your poor children!” Really? No, I am convinced that my return to work will give my children a new perspective and strengthen their self-confidence. My kids are being socialized in a good way and are not biased by traditional role models.
Executive School Programmes:
However, my family model does not have it easy in our Swiss system. Women re-entering the workforce are being punished today. If a mother does not want to start work 14 weeks after childbirth with her previous workload, she is no longer entitled to her job. Or she risks being viewed as a bad mother simply because she’s employed. Is that fair? No, and today I know it’s worth putting up a fight to change the status quo!