18. November 2020

With a digital conference the hurdle is smaller

The moment has arrived: the children leave the house in the morning and silence returns. What now? My girlfriend had a plan and got herself a job in an agency. But Corona put a spoke in her wheel - she was fired before she could even start. What followed was a black hole and a loss of perspective. Her experience is similar to that of many mothers and fathers, who have been taking care of their children for years full-time or with a larger workload. If there is no plan for "afterwards", there can often be a rude awakening.

Usually this moment comes at around forty. This means that a large part of one’s working years has already passed. It’s also a known fact that most careers take off between the ages of 30 and 40. For the majority of those who have children, adjustments, compromises and caring put a stop to the career swing they started with. So, is the chance of a good career over at 40?

At forty, many would actually be ready to really take off and catch up with their mostly male peers who passed them in the fast lane in their thirties. Unfortunately, however, most companies are not yet ready for this. They still rely on (increasingly outdated) male norms: professionals with linear, uninterrupted careers that accelerated in their thirties. Many companies have also not yet recognized the potential of female re-entrants. When these women (and increasingly men as well) “reappear” in their forties and push for more and want to take the next step in their careers, they no longer fit the norm. Many were also in part-time positions and therefore got passed over for a management promotion.

So how do you get your career going again? How do you get back on track? The current times make it even more difficult to make yourself visible and find a job again. Here’s a ray of hope: There are companies that have recognized the potential of re-entrants. UBS, Johnson & Johnson, Credit Suisse and SBB all offer career re-entry programmes. The Executive School of the University of St. Gallen has also been offering the successful “Women Back to Business” programme for over ten years. However, women returning to work often lack the courage to “leap” into such a comprehensive programme. With “Career Relaunch 2021”, the Executive School now offers a virtual conference where women and men can get a taste of what it’s like to return to business. In workshops, you can learn how to design your CV and how to engage professionally on LinkedIn. Input from people in business, academia and politics can also provide encouragement to take the next step forward.

The conference was originally planned as an in-person event, but due to Corona it will now be held digitally. But perhaps a digital conference has a decisive advantage: the hurdle to participate is smaller. For women and men, it is an opportunity to get a first taste of career re-entry from the comfort of their own homes and to make themselves visible to potential employers in a purely digital format.

Many of those interested in continuing their education with the “Women Back to Business” programme ask us whether or not they are too old for such an endeavor. Yet Forbes magazine recently featured an article about the many women whose careers took off at the age of 50. Angela Merkel, for example, became chancellor at 50. Christine Lagarde is over 60. These women are role models worth paying attention to. It is never too late to take the next career step.



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About the author
Kathrin Ott Kathrin Ott studied Tourism & Hospitality Management and completed her Master of Advanced Studies in Communication Management with specialization in strategic communication, online marketing and brand management. From 2014 to 2017, she was responsible for the marketing of the Law & Management division at the Executive School. From 2015, she was in charge of marketing for the advanced education course Women Back to Business as well as for the Competence Center for Diversity & Inclusion at the Research Institute for International Management at the University of St.Gallen. Since January 2022, she has been Marketing Manager for the Open Enrolment Programs at Central Services.