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Program Aids Women's Return to Work

This October, Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business will begin a pilot of "Back in Business," a program designed to reintegrate professionals - primarily women - into the business world after they've taken time off from their careers.

According to Program Manager Corrie Martin, Back in Business focuses on developing leadership skills and providing the kind of business knowledge required by "world-class" employers. Offered in four modules over 11 days between Oct. 3 and Dec. 3, the program also incorporates career planning and facilitates the process of reentry into the workforce, and allows participants to tap into Tuck's network and work with peers who share similar backgrounds and work/life challenges. Sessions will be held in New York and on Dartmouth's Hanover, N.H., campus.

The pilot program, for which admission closed in August, will have 40 participants. The average participant is in her mid to late 40s, and Martin estimates five or six of the initial class members will be male.

Addressing Challenges

Citigroup's Corporate and Investment Banking unit is the program's lead sponsor. The bank sees Back in Business as a way to connect with experienced professionals at a time when investment banks are facing a talent shortage and trying to increase the number of women in their management ranks, says spokesperson Rene Babich. According to figures provided by Citigroup, some 37 percent of MBA-level professional women voluntarily leave the workforce at some point in their careers. Ninety three percent of professional women who aren't currently working say they'd like to return to the business world at some point.

That would seem like a promising dynamic for both women and Wall Street firms. However, women say it's difficult to find a path back, and banks say it's difficult to identify promising candidates.

One challenge is the idea that anyone returning to the workforce must resume the type of position they left. People who've made the decision to rebalance their personal and work lives may not be on fire to step into time-demanding jobs in investment banking, trading or sales. Citigroup hopes to steer returning professionals toward jobs where they can make use of their skills in a way that fits with their own goals. "A lot of the jobs we're looking at are not necessarily client-facing," says Babich. "They're in operations, finance or more on the support side. The idea is a lot of women who left were client-facing but want to come back and want to have more control over their time. That wouldn't be in an investment banker's role."

A number of other financial firms have expressed interest in the program, Martin says. Lehman Brothers is an additional sponsor, while Goldman Sachs and Deloitte plan to either recruit from its participants or provide executives as mentors.

Martin expects Back in Business to be offered at least once a year. "The interest of prospective participants has confirmed there's enough demand," she says. The admissions process for 2007 could begin as soon as January 1. Anyone interested in being notified when the admissions process begins can send Martin an e-mail.

AUTHORAnonymous Insider Comment
  • fa
    farhat nasir
    2 May 2007

    Basically I am a Graduate in Arts and for many years I worked in a Financial and Investment Corporation.
    I had to be trained as this was not my field. I started off as a receptionist working my way upto the managerial level.Unfortunately as i was about to resume duties due to personal circumstances I had to resign.
    During the tenure I learnt a lot about investments and grdually was one of the top 5 mobilizers for the company. I next was made in charge of loan recovery a field i excelled in even more to my surprise. All this was achieved due to the help of my boss who was a pillar of encouragement for me and whatever i have and had achieved was due to his constant reassurance that no matter what always remember that the "customer comes first" and if were not for them no company or corporation would succeed.
    But now i have returned to North America and my Indian experience is of no value for more than 2 years i have been applying but havent succeeded, why, thats the question I ask myself all the time.Am i incapable of proving my worth or do i lack behind due to my being a woman and considered incompetent, whatever the reason until given an oppurunity i cant prove my worth.

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