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3, 2, 1 iRelaunch Podcast: Employer Edition

Everything employers need to know about launching and expanding returnships and return to work programs

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Episode Six

The Evolution of the JP Morgan Chase ReEntry Program

Cedric Layton is the Global ReEntry Program Co-Ordinator at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., responsible for all facets of their long running, rapidly growing, global career reentry program - including all executive champions, managers, other internal stakeholders and especially the relauncher participants themselves. The ReEntry Program is structured as a Fellowship, which we will discuss, as well as how Cedric came to be the global head of the program, and the impact and breadth of ReEntry Program. The ReEntry Program is one of the oldest career reentry programs, having launched in 2013. "Fellows" from the earliest cohorts are now senior enough to be managing the newest participants, something we could only dream about back in 2007 when iRelaunch was founded.

Read Transcript

Carol Fishman Cohen: Welcome to 3,2,1 iRelaunch Employer edition. I'm Carol Fishman Cohen, CEO and co-founder of iRelaunch and your host. In this podcast series for employers, we will discuss the most important topics in launching, running and expanding employer return to work programs, whether your organization is starting a return to work program, has piloted one, or is running a mature program, our goal is to share innovations and best practices in an effort to hire and support as many relaunchers as possible. Today, we welcome Cedric Layton. Cedric is the Global ReEntry Program Co-Ordinator at JP Morgan Chase. He's responsible for all facets of their long running, rapidly growing global career ReEntry Program end to end, including all executive champions, managers, other internal stakeholders, and especially the relauncher participants themselves.

The ReEntry Program is structured as a fellowship, which we will discuss as well as other important details about reentry. Cedric, welcome to 3,2,1 iRelaunch.

Cedric Layton: Thank you for having me, Carol. I always look forward to the opportunity to speak about our returnship program here at JP Morgan Chase.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Well, it's great to have you, and we're excited for the opportunity to hear from you about the program, its history and the details about how it's operating now, and maybe we can start there. Can you maybe start by giving us a brief history and description of the JP Morgan Chase ReEntry Program, because I know it's one of the older career reentry programs and has many people that have now gone through the program that are inside the organization.

Cedric Layton: Thank you. And our program is a 15 week fellowship, and it's designed to attract highly accomplished individuals who are currently on an extended career break of two years or more, and they're now looking to return to the workforce. Our target candidates are usually at the associate or vice-president level.

And for those who are not in the finance industry, that's really your entry level management positions, and they're at that level at the time of separation. And our program allows them to come back into the workforce at that same level or equivalent. And then through hands-on experience training, and mentorship, they gain the industry knowledge and insight needed to have a long-term successful career here at the firm.

And to Carol's point, our program is been in place for awhile. We actually launched it in 2013 and at the time we received 186 applications. And out of that 186, we selected 10 to participate in our program. And all 10 were actually based in New York. Fast forward to our last program we completed, which is our 2021 class, we had 120 participants. They were spread out over 17 locations around the globe and they were selected from amongst over 4,500 in the applications that we received that year. We like to point that out to the fellows and just to let them know how unique and special they are to be selected to participate in such a great program.

Now, those participants were spread out all over the United States, multiple sites there. We also have participation in the United Kingdom, multiple countries in Europe, have participation in India, as well as Singapore and Hong Kong. For the first time last year, we actually expanded into Latin America, which was really great.

Now to date, we've had 371 program participants go through the process and our conversion rate so far is 84 percent.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Wow. There's so much there. And it's so exciting because I remember when the program launched way back in 2013 and to hear about that growth in numbers, the growth geographically. Really exciting, and also a precedent setting. You've been one of the leaders in career reentry programming at JP Morgan Chase, and the number's 371 people, that conversion rate 84%. So that means that you have a number of relaunchers who are inside the organization. And as you mentioned, they come in associate level, VP level, where you said it's entry level management role, not entry level, but entry level manager, management roles.

And can you comment at all about the impact of having a few hundred relaunchers inside the organization and having them move up over time?

Cedric Layton: Yes. We rely on those relaunchers that came in through the program, especially some of our more senior participants, because each year when we get a new class that comes in, we actually look to those alumni to help. We call them mentors.

So they help us with the new class cause they give them a unique perspective. They've been through it. They understand the challenges of starting, coming back into the workforce after having taken a break, and they can also talk to them about any kind of anxiety or doubts that they may have coming back.

And, being overwhelmed with so many new things that may have changed since the last time they were in the work environment. So they are really critical, not only to the firm and their, what they contribute there, but also to the program. And they are always eager to raise their hands, to help out with our new incoming class.

Because they know what it was like. They know how great the program is and they have seen the benefits to their own career. So they're eager to help someone else realize that as well, here at the firm.

Carol Fishman Cohen: You know, it's so meaningful. I'm as you know, am a relauncher myself, and actually worked on Wall Street, and then came back into an investment role, a financial analysis role, although a long time ago, before there were any programs. And I know how meaningful it is for someone who is early stage in their relaunch to be paired up with a mentor, who's much later stage who's already been through the program and is inside the organization. That is precious, that, that kind of opportunity, and the idea that you can do it now and on a pretty large scale, because you have so many graduates of the program inside the organization, is really saying something.

And, one of the things that we thought about, when Vivian Steir Rabin and I were even writing our book Back on the Career Track, which came out in 2007 when we, when we co-founded iRelaunch, was this idea that sometime in the future, there would be enough relaunchers inside organizations that they would start to influence, maybe they're more apt to hire more relaunchers to work for them. They're setting an example, and you have in quite some volume now in terms of what's possible when you are relaunching after a career break. Cedric, I want to know if you could tell us a little bit about your own background and how you ended up becoming head of the program.

Cedric Layton: I sure will, Carol, and, a little bit about my background. I've actually been with the JP Morgan Chase and Company now for about 13 years, almost 14 years. And when I started, I was actually in what we call our Consumer and Community Banking Division, worked for a organization called Customer Assistance there.

What we do is we assisted anyone who had a home loan and the servicing of that loan, they actually came through our department. Now my role in that department was really operations support. So I ran a lot of reporting for our service level, making sure we were on track, employee performance. Also participated in making sure our business resiliency plans were in place.

So if anything should happen to our, our building, our connectivity, we had a plan in place to make sure that worked. Well, that department was actually asked to sponsor Year Up interns. And what a Year Up intern is, it's a program that's run here locally, I'm in the Dallas /Fort Worth area, for those who don't know, it's run locally through our community colleges. And the goal of that program is actually to close the opportunity divide. So they work with young adults between the ages of 18 to 24, who are in one of the community colleges, come from an urban community. And they're trying to realize not only their educational goals, but their professional goals.

And each, every six months, actually we have a intern that would come to our department and I was asked at the time to just be a mentor to train them on some of the things that I was doing, and answer questions they have about being in a firm environment and just got a lot of enjoyment out of it.

And I did that starting in 2017. So 2017, 2018 functioning as a mentor, we had new interns coming in about every six months. And then right around the beginning of, end of 2018, beginning of 2019, my manager at the time, who was the actual liaison between our department and the year program team, was going to go out on a maternity leave.

So I asked her, I said, While you're out, would you mind if I stepped up to be the liaison? And of course she was ready to agree wholeheartedly. So she said she checked with the program team at Year Up, just confirmed it was okay with them. And since they had worked with me in the past, they were onboard with it a hundred percent.

So January of 2019, I became the liaison just for our organization, so customer assistance. So for that six months, I got to, again, mentor and actually interact with the Year Up program team that whole six months. Must've done something right, because at the end of that six months, when they had the class graduation, received a call and invite to come to the graduate ceremony, which I was gonna do anyway, but they said they wanted to make sure I was there.

And then they surprised me with what they call the Urbane Champion Award. And what they do is they give that award to an individual or a firm, who has during that six months cycle, helped them the most to realize what their goals are, which is closing the opportunity divide, which I was floored by that. I didn't expect that I didn't go into this looking for any kind of recognition.

Be careful what you get and what you ask for, because, at the end of that six months course, we were getting ready to do our next six months cycle. So I was invited to our call that we do for the Year Up team. And that's where I'm, we have business leads, division leads at this call, managing director levels, and we meet and talk about, Okay, how many Year Up interns can we support this year? And during that meeting, they go around the table and introduce everyone. And I said, my name is Cedric Layton, I'm Operating Support for Customer Assistance, and I am the Year Up Program Liaison. And the head of home lending, who was the division I was in stopped, he said, Cedric, that's not right. You're actually now the Home Lending Division Liaison. So after I picked my jaw off the floor, right, so that's six months. Not only did I have to think about, just our interns, are we going to sponsor in our customer assistance organization, but also working with the other teams to see how many we could get in our entire division for home lending. So I got a chance to do that. Did that for six months.

Again, get an invite to the class graduation. And this time they presented us with what they called the Corporate Champions Award. And this was given to a firm again, who goes above and beyond to help them realize their goal, which is closing the opportunity divide. Now, in less than what, a year's time, two awards and recognition.

One, I was individual. One, I was able to contribute as a team. I felt okay, that must have something to offer. So I started, putting my name out there and anyone who would listen to me from a leadership standpoint saying, Hey, if there's opportunities for me to do something like this on a full-time basis, please, I'm all in and let me know. A couple months later, I actually got a call from a one of our managing directors who was a part of the teams that I work with. Said, Hey Cedric, I found out about this role when it opened, I have referred you, you should hear from a recruiter soon. I got a call from a recruiter, and this is the Asset and Wealth Management division of our firm.

I got a call from the recruiter, set up an interview and after about seven rounds of interviews, must have tricked them or some kind of magic spell on them or something because they selected me for that role. And then I became a member of the Asset and Wealth Management Talent Institute. And as a member of that Institute or that department, I was asked to help support ReEntry. So that was in 2020, and the pandemic hit, we all had to adjust and change the way we were doing things. So during those 2020 and most of 2021, just working to support the ReEntry Program team. Then I'd like to say it again, I love doing that so much. I just love the, not only the positive influence that it was making on the person and the firm, but just the way it made me feel like I was contributing.

So I, again, raise my hand, let people know, if there's any opportunities to do this even more, let me know. And as of December 21st, as you referenced early in the call, I was actually named the Global ReEntry Program Co-Ordinator for reentry for the entire firm. So not only just, I don't have to worry about just my little piece of the pie, now I don't have to worry about the whole thing.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Wow. That's incredible. I actually met and spoke at an event with Gerald Chertavian, the who's the CEO and founder, I think, of Year Up, and there's all the great work that they're doing. So that's amazing that you got the award as an individual and then JP Morgan Chase got the award. And thank you for walking through how you got to where you are, it really says a lot about you, it says a lot about the firm. And the idea that you have this role full-time, this is your full-time role to manage this global program shows how far it's come on in terms of being big enough and complex enough that it requires a full time program leader.

Wow. Thank you, Cedric. That's amazing, and congratulations, and we're so excited cause we we've been working with you for a long time and to watch you move up into this role was wonderful to see. I have a question for you about the program in terms of the types of roles that are included in the program.

And I'm just wondering, I know you said people convert at the associate or vice-president level, but when they come into the program, can you give some details on maybe just a few examples of different types of roles that people might come into?

Cedric Layton: As you said that when they come in, technically they're classified interns and that's just for the 15 week program, it's just the way we bring them on board.

And then at the end of the 15 weeks, if they perform well in the role and it's actually their decision too, if, we're the right fit for them as a firm, then they do convert into full time. The great thing about the program though, is that we ask the managers who sponsor a fellow and raise their hand and say, I want to do this, they have to have an open head count already there at the levels that we're, we just referenced, either the, the entry-level management levels, right? So that role is there. It's waiting at the end of the 15 weeks. And then as long as the Fellow performs, then they get basically seamlessly converted into that full-time role.

And we have roles, it changes year to year, right? Because it's based on managers volunteering to participate, also based on what head count is available at the time. But we have front office roles and things like treasury, finance, operations. We have roles in risk and compliance, roles in different areas of human resources, audit, legal and one of our big roles or, areas that we get a lot of participation in, is in the technology space. So we, and then you have multiple different things in there from platform support to new program development. So there's a lot of opportunities. And again, it's based on the roles that are available at the time, but there are a lot of opportunities and I know I said quite a few roles.

The other thing you have to consider too, is that those roles are across all of our lines of business here at the firm. So like I'm in, I started in consumer and community banking. I moved to asset and wealth management. We also have a consumer investment banking division. We have a corporate division, so we have multiple divisions within this firm. And then you're also adding to that multiple regions and multiple site locations. So there's lots of opportunity out there and available with this program.

Carol Fishman Cohen: I just want to highlight what you're saying here, Cedric, about the breadth of the program, like how many different functional areas across how many, so many different lines of business, in addition to, of course, the geographies that you talked about earlier, and call attention to those employers who are listening, who might have be thinking about a future program or be very early stage.

Cedric's talking about his program. That is a mature program. This is a program that's been around for a long time, has had opportunity to scale, but to get the details in terms of how the program has scaled across functionally lines of business and geographically is very useful. So that's something for people who are listening at employers to take notes. And Cedric, can you give us some insight into how the program expanded?

Is it a matter of managers in different parts of the organization raising their hand, or do you actually approach them or what happens internally?

Cedric Layton: Yeah, it is a combination of both. We do approach them through ourselves as the program team. We also get support from the head of talent acquisition as well as our executive recruiting leads and our business channel leads as well.

So we get those members who are actually championing the program for us as well. But then yeah, it is the managers. They raise their hand, they want to be a part of the process, participate in a program and sponsor a fellow, but it's also, they have to have that headcount available too. That really is the driver of not only program participation as far as numbers go, but also where we can expand to and participate in.

Now we do have divisions and lines of business that do participate each year, especially like in, like I said, the technology space, cause there's usually a lot of opportunities there, but again, we get new ones come on board every year because they're, they have new head count opened up in the roles that we're looking for.

And then they're just looking at this program as another vehicle for them to look for the right fit for the firm at that particular time.

Carol Fishman Cohen: And I should've noted this at the beginning, but JP Morgan Chase and the ReEntry Program is one of the oldest sponsors of our iRelaunch Return to Work Conference.

And, the consistent participation multiple times has been a great partnership for us. And, we know that the conference has been a source of candidates for your program. So that to us is very exciting too, as part of the partnership. So getting back to the managers themselves, do you do any training for the managers?

Are these managers, I guess the ones who get involved for the first time, do they need to have training or do you, we know they need to have training, we actually do that kind of training, but, I'm just interested in what kind of training you have for them when they are managing a relauncher for the first time.

Cedric Layton: And the good thing about it, like I talked about earlier, they have to have that open head count. So filling up the head count, you already have to have a process in place on how to bring on board a new hire. So since our program participants are considered for all intents and purposes, a new hire, because they're just in the program for that 15 weeks and then hopefully convert to the FTE headcount at the end of that.

So really the managers are bringing them on board as if they would any other new employee that they're adding to the team. What they get from us from a program perspective is we have a couple of sessions with them prior to, so we have a session with them at first to say, Hey, this is what our program is.

Those who raised their hand and said, they want to sponsor a Fellow, just give them an idea of what our program is, what our goals are, how our program has performed over the years. They ask that a lot. And then sometimes they'll ask if we have any testimonials from past participants.

So we'll provide that to them as well. But then they raise their hand. They say they want to participate. Then we schedule what we call a manager's briefing before the program launches, that kind of gives them an idea of what to expect from a program perspective. So we give them the schedule for the entire 15 weeks, so they know what that is. We let them know what we're going to do to orientate the new participants, because we have a week set aside for orientation and we give them classes with the participants of these classes on different things they expect from the firm. So we get that to the managers. And then we have, what we call it, we call it office hours. Basically, it's a call that we schedule every two weeks throughout the entire 15 week program with managers that they can jump on that call at any time and let us know if they have a question about something that's going on with the program, question about the program, or, we're always available for them anytime.

We give them that option, if they have any questions, no matter when it is to reach out to either their lead support in their particular region, or they can reach directly out to me as the global program coordinator.

Carol Fishman Cohen: I do want to call out that, JP Morgan Chase and ReEntry was a pioneer in this idea of treating the managers as a cohort, not only the participants, but the managers as a cohort. And as you're outlining, having this programming for them, the office hours that I know they're optional, but the opportunity every couple of weeks to get together as a group, to talk about whatever is working or not working or they have questions about, and also to get together with you. Yeah. So that was very innovative. One question about people who are repeat managers, how does that work?

Cedric Layton: Honestly, it's because they had a positive experience. Kind of like what I talked about earlier about being, wanting to jump into more, bringing in people talent to the firm and why I pursued that, same thing with managers. When they have a positive experience with the Fellow that they may have sponsored the year prior, then they're ready to raise their hand to sponsor a new Fellow. And they, like I say, they get a benefit from it, because I think you touched on this Carol earlier, the tenure of some of the people who have gone through the program before, and we do actually have former ReEntry alumni who are now Fellow sponsors.

So it's come full circle where they're now in a position where they're leading divisions and organizations, and they're asking to have a ReEntry Fellows now come on board with their teams because they know, number one, what that experience is like, what it means to get that opportunity. And then they see what can happen when you take advantage of that opportunity.

Because now they're in a position to really give back by sponsoring a Fellow. So we're really grateful when we see that.

Carol Fishman Cohen: I have to say it gives me the chills when I hear you say that, because that was what we would dream about. That relaunchers would go through these programs and then be in place long enough that they would actually be managers for new relaunchers that are coming into the program.

And you're saying, that's exactly what's happening. That is, is thrilling and where you want to go, where you want to be. So you guys are already there and I love that. And also just the idea that the experience for managers is their own leadership development experience to be managing a relauncher, which is a little different from managing someone who took a career break.

Cedric Layton: Right.

Carol Fishman Cohen: So we're running out of time, Cedric, and I want to just ask you one more question and that has to do with how you track and manage. You have this sprawling program it's global, it's across all these lines of business, and it's big. And I know that our employer community is interested in how are, what's the management, what's the logistics, how are people tracked?

So any comments about how you're able to do that?

Cedric Layton: Yes. And I would love to say I'm so great I can do it by myself, but I definitely cannot. We have an incredible, I'll say that again, program team that works diligently and, or just a brief reminder is that our program team members, and this is my full-time role as of December, but a lot of our program team members, this is like an extra assignment for them, a stretch assignment. Kind of like what I talked about when I was a part of the community banking division, where you know, it was a stretch assignment for me to do with Year Up. But because they get such a positive feedback from doing that, they raise their hand every year to be a part of this program team. So we have a great program team that helps us with this, and we have a great staff of recruiters that helps us as well, track it when we're getting new class members coming on board and that whole process. And then we also have reporting in place here at the firm that helps us track our ReEntry Program Fellows once they are onboarded and onto our system.

So we're able to pull information about them. That allows us to track their progression over time. So how many we retain over the years? How many have moved into different roles or how many have promoted? So there's a whole bunch of people involved with the process, and that helps us keep tracking.

So that 371, a good example is like it's pretty evenly spread out. We have about 40% of those in our North America region, another 36% are in the European region, so that's our Europe, Middle East, Africa areas. And then we have about 21% in India, which I know that may, that does not really seem small, but that 21% is really over a two year participation in the program.

So that lets you know, how much participants would we get there each year. And then the remaining percentage is about 3% or so is in Asia. Cause that's like I said, we literally just expanded to them about a year ago. So this would be their second year in the program. So we are anticipating more and more in that area as well.

And like I said, the program team works together every year to make this whole process successful. And without them, like I say, we wouldn't number one have the 10 year success. If that's the right way to phrase it, then we have for our program and the Fellows that go through this process, I know they do this, their successes based on their contribution, but there's a huge team of individuals that are supporting them throughout this process.

And they take great pride in making sure that they're bringing the right people in to the firm, and they're doing it because they have pride in the firm that we all work for.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Cedric, this was so valuable. Thank you so much for spending the time with us today.

Cedric Layton: And thank you for having me, Carol.

Carol Fishman Cohen: And thanks for listening to 3,2,1 iRelaunch Employer edition. I'm Carol Fishman Cohen, the CEO, and co-founder of iRelaunch and your host. iRelaunch is recognized by SHRM to offer professional development credits, PDCs, for SHRM-CP® or SHRM-SCP®, and each episode of our Employer Edition of the 3, 2, 1 iRelaunch podcast is approved for .25 SHRM professional development credits. The activity ID for this episode is 23-W5D2F.


Be sure to check out the iRelaunch.com website, where we have a special section dedicated to employers, including a section on making the business case for an employer return to work program, which we invite you to cut and paste and use in any proposals you might be making inside your organization to start a career reentry.

Thanks for joining us.


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iRelaunch is recognized by SHRM to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for SHRM-CP® or SHRM-SCP®. Each episode of iRelaunch's 3, 2, 1 Podcast, Employer Edition is approved for .25 Professional Development Credits. To receive the activity ID for each episode, please join our iRelaunch Employer Community Group on LinkedIn for instructions on where to find this ID.


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