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Employer interest in relauncher talent is at an all time high

Attendance more than doubled at our 2022 iRelaunch Employer Summit, consistent with the sharp spike in interest in employer career reentry programs

By Team iRelaunch

At the beginning of March, iRelaunch held our 2022 Employer Summit, which focused on innovations, best practices, and trends in employer career reentry programs. iRelaunch is uniquely situated to convene the community of global prestigious employers that run mature programs, have launched newer programs, and those contemplating launching a future program. Leaders, executive champions, managers, and participants from the top employer career reentry programs shared knowledge and recommendations on the most pressing issues of building and scaling these programs. Representatives from 88 employers participated in the Employer Summit, a 120% increase over last year.

The setting for the Summit is unique in that sessions are intentionally not recorded and a respect for confidentiality and the frank exchange of ideas is expected and celebrated. Panelists feel free to speak candidly and audience members feel comfortable asking direct questions. Everyone is there to learn and to test and trade ideas.

“Change” is the driver and emerged as the theme for this year’s Summit. Mature programs are being reimagined; programs are experimenting with defined cohorts, “loose” cohorts, and “rolling admissions” or switching from returnship to direct hire models. Each option has advantages and challenges and discussing them in detail is a lot of what the Summit is about.

Summit speakers also explored the critical role of managers and manager selection in the success of career reentry programs. Additional key topics included building a program from scratch and the best ways to manage career reentry program leader succession.

For detailed highlights of the Summit, topics and speakers, click here.

    Employer career reentry programs are evolving before our eyes. Programs are getting more sophisticated, mature programs are still innovating in terms of model and cadence, and programs are scaling like we have never seen before.

    Carol Fishman Cohen iRelaunch Co-founder and CEO

    Employers increased focus on hiring from the high-caliber relauncher talent pool reflects the impact of the Pandemic in accelerating remote and hybrid work arrangements and making career breaks much more common, in addition to tight labor markets, and the excellence and success of the ever-broadening range of employer career reentry programs.

    The recent announcement by LinkedIn about their new career breaks feature for profile building is a milestone step in the institutional shift toward normalizing career breaks. “We are starting to see the impact of more relaunchers inside organizations at long-running or rapidly scaling programs,” said iRelaunch CEO and Co-founder Carol Fishman Cohen. “This means more relaunchers are making hiring decisions inside organizations and past participants in employer career reentry programs have progressed to the point where they now may be managing a current relauncher participant in the program.“

    The Employer Summit is thrilling for us in every way, in large part because of the glowing feedback we get from our speakers and attendees. It was a privilege to hear from and speak with executive champions, program leaders, senior-level relaunchers, new program graduates, managers, and more at this year’s Summit. Attendees called it the best “crash course” in career reentry programs and programming anywhere. We can’t wait until 2023!

    Read on for more detailed highlights from each of the Employer Summit sessions.

    This Summit was amazing! Carol provided invaluable information and did a wonderful job of moderating. The speakers were incredible and provided great insight into their respective programs. Thank you for all of the resources. I am looking forward to sharing all of this information with my team and applying the best practices learned to redesign a best-in-class Returning Professionals Program. Thank you so much! I thoroughly enjoyed this Summit and learned so much!

    2022 iRelaunch Employer Summit Attendee
    • View from the top: A fantastic opening conversation between iRelaunch Advisory Board members Jacqueline Welch, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer of the New York Times Company who is a two time relauncher and one of the most senior-level relaunchers we know, and Phillip Anderson, Executive Director, Diversity & Inclusion + CSR of The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation, long time champion of relaunchers who has launched two career reentry programs – Moody’s Re-Ignite and DTCC’s Re-Emerge. Jacqui discussed how different her two relaunches were, especially the second one that was a “call to duty” for ill-parent care and why it was one of the best periods of her life. Phil encouraged each employer to “build their program,” the one that is customized to meet their unique needs, and not take a standardized approach.
    • Reimagining Your Program: Tamberlin Golden, General Motors, Executive Director, Workforce Strategy, Office of Diversity Equity & Inclusion, and Melissa Borg, Goldman Sachs, Vice President, Diversity Recruiter for Experienced Professionals, Consumer Wealth Management Division, discussed GM’s reimagined Take 2 program and Goldman’s reimagined Returnship program and new COVID initiative. Topics included the evolution of both programs, how each company recognized the need to reimagine their program, and their vision for the growth of their reimagined programs.
    • A Three Part Series on Managers in Career Reentry Programs brought in perspectives from Sarah Cole, Market Commercial Credit Manager, Senior Vice President and Laura Picone, Senior Relationship Manager, Vice President, TD Bank and co-managers of TD Career Relaunch, Cedric Layton, Global ReEntry Program Co-Ordinator from JP Morgan Chase, and Oracle’s Stacey Schuhardt, Director of Consulting for Strategic Hotels of North America, who managed four relaunchers in the most recent Oracle Career Relaunch cohort.
    • Scaling Your Program: Alex Mooney, Amazon, Sr. Manager of DEI Talent Acquisition Programs, discussed how Amazon is rapidly growing its Returnship program to 1,000 participants over the next few years, the most aggressive stated scaling goal for any career reentry program.
    • Public Sector Return to Work Programs: Shay Baker, State of Utah, Program Manager, discussed Return Utah, the first state and the first public sector return to work program. Shay was a relauncher participant in the inaugural cohort of the program before becoming the Return Utah program leader. She discussed her perspective managing the program and her vision for it, having just completed it.
    • Building a Career Reentry Program from Scratch featured Cognizant’s Jennifer Green Godette, Director, Diversity & Inclusion Client & Partner Engagement, who explained how Cognizant launched its global Returnship program in record time and how the program scaled rapidly to over 80 participants in two countries in the first nine months.
    • Succession Planning for Career Reentry Program Leadership: This was a rare opportunity to hear from outgoing and incoming career reentry program leaders and how the succession was carefully managed at Johnson & Johnson Re-Ignite, featuring Sarah Klopfer, Global Program Leader, Re-ignite, and Liz Markus, Head, Global Talent Management Partnership Group and former Re-Ignite global program leader.
    • Program Evolution: Moving from Defined Cohorts to Rolling Admissions: Originally structured as a traditional, cohort-based returnship, the Raytheon Technologies Re-Empower program is now structured as a hybrid, continuing with running one fall cohort a year, but introducing “rolling admissions.” Shanda Hinton, Raytheon Technologies, Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Executive, talked about what led to the change and the steps that took place to make it happen. We also heard from Claudia Heinrich-Barna, Electrical Engineer II, Raytheon Intelligence and Space, who returned to her technical role after a 19 year career break. Her comments were focused on her outstanding mentor who supported her while she was in the Re-Empower program and what qualities made him so great.
    • Program Evolution: Moving from Returnships to Direct Hire: Rachel Akers, IBM, Program Manager - New Collar, described how IBM Tech Re-Entry has migrated from a returnship model to a direct hire model, along with a move from cohorts to “rolling admissions.” IBM Tech Re-Entry participants are now hired as employees from day one, and there is no internship component to the program. Rachel provided details on the timing and logistics behind these program changes.