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Rob Carmichael decided to be a stay at home dad when his wife returned to work after the birth of their daughter. After 18 months, he had to find his way back to work when the family’s circumstances changed. We hear his story.
Rob Carmichael headed RBS’ corporate banking team in Indonesia until his wife became pregnant and the couple decided to return to the UK.
Their daughter Sophie was born in February 2015 and Rob decided to be a stay-at-home dad when his wife returned to work. Eighteen months later everything changed after his wife fell pregnant with their second daughter and wanted to reduce her hours.
That meant Rob had to get back to work. Luckily, he came across Lloyds Bank’s returnship programme. One year after applying he took up the role of Lloyds’ Relationship Director. Not only is the job on a similar level to the one he left nearly three years earlier in Indonesia, but he can do it on a part-time basis.
Asked if anything surprised him about being a stay-at-home dad he says he didn’t realise how much fun it would be. He also picked up a lot of time management and other useful transferable skills which he thinks employers should acknowledge more.
“It is definitely the best job I have ever done. I had a ball,” he says.
Rob didn’t know about returner programmes before he applied to the Lloyds Banking Group one. “I was blown away by the whole experience,” he says. “It totally matched Lloyds’ collaborative and supportive culture.” He went on an assessment day in April and the programme started in June. While most of his colleagues were placed in a role that was expected to lead to a full-time position after the four-month programme, Rob was told there was no role that exactly matched his skills so he would be dropped into a team as a kind of “minister without portfolio” until a role became free.
While most of the 35 returners in his cohort were women, there were a handful of men. They had a host of different reasons among his cohort for taking a career break, from looking after elderly relatives to caring for very young or older children. Many had been out of the workplace for several years, including one woman who had been out for 17 years. Rob says the programme helped cement his own beliefs in his ability and gave him an instant network which helped him settle into his new job. His cohort has a Whatsapp alumni group which met up regularly after the programme finished. Most are now working at Lloyds.
“The programme made a massive difference. It would have been difficult to get back to work on this level with a cv gap without it,” says Rob. He was clear from the beginning that he wanted to do a reduced week and returned on three days in the office and one day from home. “That kind of agility is embedded in the culture of ,” he said.
Rob says: “No matter what happens in my life the 18 months that I had with my daughter was the most precious time I have had the pleasure to enjoy. The support I have received from Lloyds to return to my career and to work in a way that gives me time for my daughters has been transformative for my family.”