How do you overcome the fear and anxiety of returning to work after 7 years away? For Ivy Yu, it was about finding a company committed to helping her build back her professional and personal confidence.
Ivy Yu headed to a local café in Hong Kong, eager to hear if a friend had any news about a job. After spending seven years dedicated to her children and parents, Ivy felt she finally had time to focus on herself.
“It was time for a new chapter,” she now recalls thinking to herself. She yearned for the camaraderie of colleagues and the intellectual stimulation of a professional career.
Yet, like many who have been several years away from the workforce, Ivy found that reentering the workforce was easier said than done. “I had worked as an actuary in the U.S., and although I had returned to Hong Kong and spent seven years attending to my family’s needs, I always kept up with news and my skills,” she says. “But recruiters reminded me daily that my skills were outdated. Many think that if you’re not in a job continuously, then you don’t know anything. It’s just not true.”
Ivy had spent months networking. The coffee meeting with her friend turned out to be the break that she had been waiting for. Her friend, who worked at Morgan Stanley, told her about a new Return to Work program debuting in the Hong Kong office, designed for anyone who had been away more than two years from their professions and wanted to return. Applications for the 12-week program were closing that day.
“At first, I was thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m too old for an internship,’ ” she laughs. “And the thought of doing an interview with such a highly competitive firm like Morgan Stanley was, well, scary. I’d never worked at a bank.”
She got the interview and, despite a brief bout of nervousness beforehand, made it through to be selected for the firm’s Asia-Pacific debut of its Return to Work program back in 2015. Ivy’s expertise in data analytics landed her on the Compensation and Data team in Human Resources, working on data reporting and compensation issues.
She quickly discovered an environment very different from the anxiety-inducing preconceptions she had harbored. “I found that I was not alone,” she recalls. “So many resources were available to us. We went though training and mentoring to help us succeed. They reviewed communication and presence, refreshed our memories on how to use Microsoft Office and offered so much mentoring and advice.”
Ivy still remembers how apprehensive she felt when her manager gave her a project that involved creating and giving a presentation. “I don’t like public speaking,” she explains. “At first, all I could do was stare at the project. I was very nervous. But my supervisor saw beyond my hesitation and provided guidance to encourage me. I grew professionally because of her, and her help is something I will always appreciate.”
Three years later, Ivy is now a Director in the Talent Analytics team, which is a global team that helps business units make strategic decisions. “I am delighted that my statistical models bring data to life and help to reshape the way managers think about talent.”