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7 September 2015

back2businessship 2015 by Ola Nwakodo Wright

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‘Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone’ sums up the introspective and informative day 5 at #Back2Businessship in the very welcoming Hill+Knowlton Strategies London office. This post is written by delegates Priya Dsouza and Katiso Ndlela

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I’ve been in PR and brand development/direction for almost 20 years, mostly in luxury retail, fashion and lifestyle and I love it. In 2011 I took extended maternity leave and when I came back I had a flexible working role with an agency but I found I was becoming more and more detached from work and found work was becoming more and more detached from me. I just couldn’t be there 70 hours a week. So I decided to be bold and have a look at what else I could do and I took on a series of freelance contracts and projects.

Freelancing has been great to do but I have found there are periods when the work isn’t offering the right opportunity so this year I decided to make changes. My daughter is in full time nursery now and I feel my time becoming more and more my own. I’ve asked myself, where do I want to go? What do I need from the next X years of my career? I’ve never been out of work and I need to make a good step in life at this point.

I was hoping to find employers with active support for women that have been out of what you might call “traditional” full time work for a while. f1 was recommended to me by a friend and that’s how I found out about the back2businessship programme. It was an ‘aha!’ moment – I realised that here was an organisation doing something to support an industry, which is mostly made up of women, by helping women back into it after they’ve had a break.

Freelance work focuses on your capabilities and contacts but I think that going back to permanent work is more likely to open up new skills and I hope it will be a career boost. I have good experience and contacts and I’m laser-focused in wanting to work so I’ve done well with freelance work but I don’t want a closed shop, I want to keep my mind open about the future. The opportunity back2businesssship offers is to be able to think about the future and make the first steps. I don’t want to feel family ties are holding me back. So it’s a question of re-grouping and refreshing how you organise your life.

I’m looking forward to the course – the PR landscape is changing dramatically all the time so there is a lot to learn. Although the main skills and competencies are all still there the directions, the technology and the way you achieve things for clients are all changing. I’m keen to learn what employers are looking for and about career expectations, and I’m looking forward to meeting similar people and making new contacts. Most importantly, there is a work placement at the end – that’s what it’s all about.

follow @b2businessship for more information about the programme.