Meet Karla Bohan, an Implementation Specialist on HubSpot's Customer Success team who joined us through the Returner's Program piloted in Dublin last summer. Karla began her career in Finance before taking a break to raise her family and spend time with her children while they were young. But when she was ready to return to work, she feared her opportunities would be slim due to her time away from the industry and the career change she wanted to make.
Today, Karla works in HubSpot's Dublin office helping to onboard new customers as they first start to navigate the HubSpot CRM and products. We asked Karla a few questions about what it was like returning to work after a few years out of the business world, and advice she has for others either thinking of taking a career break, or coming back to work after time away from an office. Here's what she had to say.
1. What was your career journey to HubSpot?
Hi! I'm Karla. I'm originally from Mexico City, but have lived in Ireland for the past 14 years. My husband is Irish so he is the main reason I came to this beautiful country. I work as an Implementation Specialist at HubSpot in Dublin.
Before HubSpot, I worked in Financial Services for a number of years mainly in Fund Accounting. I studied Business and Marketing at University, but at the time I was searching for jobs in Ireland, the Financial Services industry was booming so an opportunity arose in an insurance company and that's where I found my first job. I will always be grateful for that opportunity, but I wanted a more challenging role so then I got into Investment Fund valuation, a very interesting industry with great opportunities for career growth. I somewhat liked my job, I was driven by its challenges and was progressing quickly, but I never felt a passion for what I was doing.
When my children were very young, I found it very hard to juggle between work and family as my role required long working hours and offered no flexibility. I very quickly burnt out in an industry that was not family-friendly. I decided then to take a career break to look after my family and decide where I wanted my professional career to go next. During this break, I decided to do a course in Digital Marketing and found it fascinating! (I originally studied Business and Marketing remember -- back before everything was digital.) So the world of Digital Marketing was all new knowledge and very exciting for me. I knew I wanted to work for a tech company as a consultant. It was very important for me not only to find a job that gave me energy and that I enjoyed, but also a role in a company with a culture that connected with my values, and where I could achieve a work-life balance that allowed me to continue being the best version of myself as a mom to my children.
2. Can you tell us about your decision to leave the workforce? What was that like and how did you adjust to life outside of work?
Deciding to take a career break wasn't an easy decision. There is always the fear that you won't find an opportunity again, that you won't be able to pay the bills or that you will become isolated. I was very aware of the challenges of being out of the workplace, but to me it was very important to spend time with my children and be present in those very precious first years of their lives. I was very proactive, though, in getting involved in as many activities as I could and enjoying my kids to the fullest.
During this break, I also studied Nutrition and Dietetics, and put all the knowledge in practice to plan and cook healthy meals for my family (it helped lose some weight too!). I also learnt to bake cookies and decorate them with Royal icing, activities that I very much enjoyed with my children. We even participated in Christmas fairs and food markets for a couple of years. This experience was great to teach my children the value of work and earning money, plus we had lots of fun together. I also became a runner and embarked on an amazing fitness journey. I embraced my career break and enjoyed the freedom of being able to do everything I couldn't do when I was working, from spending quality time with my children, getting involved with my community, reading, running, playing guitar, travelling, you name it!
3. On the flip side, when did you decide it was time to return to work? What was it like returning after time away?
I decided it was time to return to work the day I realized I'd lost my confidence as a professional. I wrongly believed that I wasn't able to perform any job. The longer the career break, the harder it became to find a job -- any job! Also, for me it wasn't just about coming back into the workplace, I wanted a career change and I wanted this to be very specifically in a tech company as a Marketing or Business consultant.
I have to be brutally honest here. Returning to work after time away is both exciting and terrifying! The hardest part about returning to work was re-adjusting my routine and prioritizing. I was ecstatic to have found the right opportunity, but struggled prioritizing as I wanted to keep all the good things about my non-working life with my working life, but the reality is you will have less time for everything so you need to prioritize and become efficient at certain daily tasks.
4. What are some things you wish you knew before returning to work?
I wish I had more confidence to acknowledge that even if I missed out on some corporate experience, I continued developing many skills that are transferable to many roles. The reality is that you continue growing and acquiring skills and experience, just not in a corporate setting, but these are just as valuable and applicable to many roles across a variety of industries.
5. Can you share some advice with those who might be returning to the workforce, or those who are thinking about taking a break?
If you're thinking about taking a career break, I would say take it! Nothing is permanent, there will always be opportunities. Life experiences, projects we embark on, spending time with your family, travelling and other adventures all give you opportunities for learning and growth. If you take a career break, use your time wisely, be proactive, learn, but most importantly enjoy it without regret!
If you're returning to work, lose the fear. Use your energy to up skill, re-skill, do research and do whatever you need to do to prepare well. Look for the right opportunity, something that gives you energy and you feel passionate about, not just any opportunity. Think really hard about what you want to do, believe in yourself and go for it.
6. How has HubSpot supported you in your return to the workforce?
My experience as a Returner at HubSpot has been amazing. I received world-class training that helped me have the knowledge and tools to start doing my job with confidence. I received the warmest welcome from members of my team and also from members of other teams. I was overwhelmed with emotion to meet such genuine and friendly people. Also, I have the most amazing and supportive manager who made sure I adapted well and overcame any worries. What I love about HubSpot's culture that has helped me have a smooth and positive transition back to work is that everyone in HubSpot is genuine and transparent. People are empathetic, collaborate and support each other. Everyone is truly remarkable!