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Jenny Stanford is an HR systems assistant in our Cambridge office. Having previously worked at Mills & Reeve, she recently returned to the firm after 14 years away. Jenny talks about her decision to come back and offers some tips for people looking to return to the corporate world.
I started with the firm in 2005 and worked in the HR team as an administrator in the Cambridge office. As it was a smaller team back then, we did a little bit of everything so I was involved in HR, graduate recruitment, and wider recruitment tasks.
After my maternity leave, I decided not to return to work as I wanted to spend that time with my children. I ended up in the education sector as a teaching assistant, working with children with educational, behavioural, and social needs. I really enjoyed it and the hours worked well for me for a long time. With the cost-of-living crisis, however, I needed a job with more hours, financial stability, and growth opportunities. My first thought was Mills & Reeve, so I contacted a friend who still works here to see if they knew of any available roles. There were, and I had an interview and was ultimately successful. It was all very sudden and surprising, but my priority going back into the corporate world was to find a workplace which was flexible and family friendly and, from my previous experience, I knew Mills & Reeve fit the bill.
The firm’s growth has been the biggest change. Despite this, however, I think the ethos has stayed the same. They still have the same degree of respect and appreciation for their employees that they’ve always had. The firm could’ve gone very cold and corporate as it grew, but it hasn’t. I still feel I can confidently go to a manager and express my concerns or suggest ways to improve a certain process.
When I had my interview for my return to Mills & Reeve, I was very clear that flexibility was a non-negotiable, and the interviewers didn’t hesitate to make it clear that whatever I needed they could help with, as long as I was completing my agreed hours. They said they’d support me around working from home, train times, school strikes and all the other factors you’ve got to deal with when you have children. They’ve been amazing and it's meant that I haven’t had to worry about childcare arrangements. I recommend Mills & Reeve to any friend I see struggling at work, because of the support everyone receives here. There are so many initiatives for people who are struggling financially, or with their mental and physical health, and even though I haven’t personally had to use these, it’s such a good feeling to know it’s there for me if I do. It’s like a safety net, if I need more support in any aspect of my life, Mills & Reeve is there for me, and I think that’s worth a fortune.
I’d always recommend that people do some research and find an organisation that they’re interested in. Find out their policies, the sort of business they are, and have a chat with somebody who works there to learn more. Mills & Reeve is great, and an increasing number of firms are improving in this regard, but there are also a lot of organisations that are still rigid and unchanging, which may not suit an individual’s requirements.
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