My Story – Career breaks, opportunities and gratitude!!

Sharing my personal story with this community for the very first time…

Going back to 2012…As a first-time mother, I had so many dreams about motherhood and a desire to enjoy the complete experience, the day I got to know I am pregnant I went on a voluntary sabbatical and eventually left the organization that I was with.

After 4 years of having spent all the time with my little one and thoroughly enjoying every moment of his growing years, When I decided to join back the corporate world I had so many doubts, about being relevant, being able to articulate by strengths, ability to explain the long career break and so on

I started my search with updating my resume and uploading on a few job portals, also got in touch with a few independent recruiters however the response was not great, given my 5 year break!

Soon I started prospecting on my own through LinkedIn, I must mention I was amazed at the response I received, in less than a month I had a couple of interviews lined up. Thank you LinkedIn for connecting people through this platform.

By the time I completed the interviewing process I had three offers in hand, Yes three 🙂

Of the three, i chose to go with LinkedIn Learning , one of biggest factors in choosing LinkedIn was that in the entire interview process they did not ask any inappropriate personal questions about the break in my career, like literally no mention of it anywhere, I was pleasantly surprised and impressed with the professional approach. Thankyou Starley Varghese and Shaurya Pratap Singh for the great professional interview experience.

I was thrilled to be getting an opportunity to work with a brand like LinkedIn and couldn’t be more excited! This excitement was short lived though as I realised that both me and my son were having major separation anxiety, it was a difficult phase. WFH wasn’t a thing then and being away from my child the whole day was killing me.

As you can imagine, the decision of leaving LinkedIn in less than a year wasn’t easy and to make things worse my team even organised a lovely farewell on the last day. Shaurya Pratap Singh thank you again for treating me so well!

My priorities were clear, I wanted to work however I needed to be closer to my son for if/when he needed me and make a gradual transition.

I took another break for a year and when I thought I was ready,  once again actively started looking for opportunities in 2019

From my last experience I understood, the best way to search was through LinkedIn, Guess what, this time things were more difficult compared to last as I had to explain not just the 5 year break but also why I left a reputed organization like Linked in less than a year..Phew!!

Landing interviews wasn’t that difficult however I would get stuck on reasoning the 2nd career break. After failing a couple times, I dealt with the answer in my head first and convinced myself that the career break I took wasn’t a mistake but a need to cater to my family first. Once I was clear about this, there was no stopping. Once again, I had a few offers that I could choose from.

I chose Udemy , this experience was almost magical I must say, I truly manifested this one!!

Peter Kokkinos the managing director APAC reached out to me on LinkedIn saying “he’s been tasked with building a world class team in India and that my profile stood out to him.” (I must confess at the time I did not know much about Udemy and what it does, I looked it up Lol)

This turned out to be my dream job; first hire in the region for Udemy Business , SAAS enterprise sales position, 100% work from home , and they did not even refer to my last drawn salary, instead offered me a compensation as per the company and industry standards set for the role.

The whole experience was surreal to say the least, there were multiple round of interviews and not one person from Udemy asked me anything about my personal responsibilities or the career breaks, the question of “why I left an organization like LinkedIn too soon” never even popped up. So much so that I was dreading they must’ve missed it, Lol.

All they focused on were my capabilities and experiences that would make me a good fit for the role 🙂

Gosh! it has been a beautiful journey, it’s been close to 5 years with Udemy now and every time I think of how I landed here, my heart is full of gratitude!

Peter Kokkinos I have expressed this many times but is never much, Thank you for finding me and giving me this amazing opportunity.

One may think Why I am penning this down now after so many years, Well all I have is, Better late than never!!

The objective of writing this article is to firstly express my gratitude to the companies and people that gave me these wonderful opportunities and experiences ,I wish every company educates the hiring panel to be ultra-professional during the interview process, the dos and don’ts should be explained before you task someone with this responsibility.

Its Normal for people to take career break/s, you rather focus on their experience, achievements and capabilities that align an individual to the role you are interviewing for, one’s decision to take a break in their career is their personal business not yours.

Message for every woman who has taken a break for childbirth or after, Its ok to have doubts and fears while trying to get back to work,  these will only help you prepare better, there certainly are plenty of opportunities in the market whenever you do make a decision.

To every individual that decides to take a break for any reason, be it the drudgery of everyday life, toxic workplace, mental health, physical health, to focus on your family, pursue a passion or to just travel the world.; so far as you’ve got your priorities right in your head and you can afford it, Go for it!! You deserve it!!

The right opportunity will eventually find you and you will always, always land up in a place better than before. It may sometimes take a few attempts but trust me you will.

Remember, if it doesn’t Open, it’s not your door. Go Next!!

Neha Thard

Neha Thard

With over 10 years of experience in sales and marketing, I am a strategic account director at Udemy, where I manage the largest and most strategic enterprise customers in India and South Asia. My mission is to help these customers achieve their learning and development goals, and transform their organizations with Udemy Business, the leading online learning platform. I am passionate about creating value for my customers, building long-term relationships, and delivering exceptional results. I bring diverse perspectives and experiences to the team, as I have worked in different industries, regions, and cultures. In my current role, I have a revenue responsibility for various industry focus segments, such as BFSI, large Indian diversified groups, government, PSUs, technology service providers, and professional services organizations. I have consistently exceeded my targets, and have been recognized and awarded as the APAC AE of the year 2019, Enterprise India AE H2 2021, Enterprise India AE 2022, and Enterprise India AE H1 2023. I have also won the Presidents Club award for three consecutive years, since its launch in 2022. I have successfully closed multiple large and complex deals, and have established Udemy Business as a trusted and preferred learning partner for my customers. I have also worked with cross-functional teams, such as customer success, marketing, product, and engineering, to ensure customer satisfaction, retention, and growth.

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