Why parents making a career comeback are advertising’s biggest talent opportunity

Wunderman introduces program to parents looking to re-enter the ad workforce

As a Gen X’er who has survived the pace and change of our industry and continued to thrive, I know how daunting it can be to stay in it while raising a family.

I still remember how hard it was for me to return to work after having my daughter over two years ago. The transition was a complete culture shock and most agencies still do little to recognize the incredible physical and emotional life change you have just experienced. They expect you to jump back on the wagon and continue on as if nothing significant happened — business as usual.

This is a hard pill to swallow. I was fortunate to work with a career coach who helped me navigate through my personal conflict to go back to work, but some choose not to return to our demanding, ever changing, always-on industry to focus on their home life.

When I was asked by our global head of HR to represent Wunderman in a Y&R Group task force that could develop a program to give those who made that choice the opportunity to 'come back,' I reflected on my own struggles re-entering the workforce. It felt like a calling and a way to empower more people to continue the careers they had paused. More of this purpose was realized for me when I attended our women’s empowerment retreat, 'Pass It On,' and I experienced first-hand the power that I had to leverage my position in our agency to do more for women.

As we engaged as a cross-company team to work on the initiative, we found that much of the fear of returning to work was tied to lack of confidence and not knowing about what is happening in advertising today: digital, mobile, social, IoT, data, media and intelligence, etc. We set out to develop a program that would not only provide coaching to 'returners,' but give them access to training that would get them up to speed on these new channels and the opportunity to refresh their existing skillsets.

I believe it’s time for our industry to embrace this untapped pool of talent: successful marketing professionals interested in returning to work, armed with a fresh toolbox of life experiences. That’s why we’re incredibly excited to introduce PowerOn,a 12-week program that provides training and mentorship to parents looking to re-enter the advertising workforce.

I personally know so many parents who took the 'pause' but don’t know how to re-engage in a sometimes unforgiving industry that is constantly evolving — and that is the barrier PowerOn aims to remove. Make no mistake, our initiative will require participants to commit to a full-time work schedule which means being available for client and internal demands like the rest of us. But for those who sign on, it’s a win-win for them and for us.

We know that the best talent comes from many walks of life and that a diverse workforce drives more innovation. Plus, a variety of talent brings a wider array of solutions and ideas, at a time when clients are looking for more experience, diversity and relevance when it comes to understanding their brand and how to be 'wanted' by consumers.

Having more parents on our team and at the table internally and externally makes so much sense from a business standpoint as they bring a wealth of experience to draw from and unique perspectives that add immense value into the work and the agency culture.

Our industry is built on great people, and we are only as strong as the talent in it. So, while the paths our careers take may sometimes pivot, people with skills and passion are always in demand, and we can’t wait to help these parents kick start the next chapter of their careers.

Wunderman proudly supports The Drum’s 3% Conference coverage. We believe true diversity does not check boxes, it checks itself. http://wunderman.com/

Robyn Tombacher

Robyn Tombacher is head of operations, North America for Wunderman.

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