Article Summary:

  1. AGSM introduced the Career Comeback Sponsorship program to close the gender gap
  2. The program provides support and advice to reflect on your career goals
  3. Self-improvement is always important

Returning to work can be challenging for some professionals. Women in particular are less likely to continue a steady upward trajectory after a break, despite the fact the 2019 Women’s Agenda Ambition Report found women are both ambitious and eager to move up in their career. Top of the ambitions list was a desire for more pay, with 37% indicating they hoped to earn more in the next 24 months – dispelling some of the myths made about women’s ambitions with money.

To close the gender leadership gap, in 2017 AGSM @ UNSW Business School introduced the Career Comeback program, awarding ten sponsorships for highly qualified people on a career break to complete a Certificate in Executive Management and Development (CEMD). The goal was to help build momentum for a return to work, to build upon their existing skills and progress their careers.

The AGSM 2019 Career Comeback Sponsorship program has been redesigned to empower parents and carers with the confidence to return to and accelerate a post-break career. Thirty sponsorships have been awarded to professionals currently on a career break to participate in a three-day AGSM ‘Design Your Career Comeback’ short course. Participants will also gain access to an exclusive Career Comeback network, a professional community, development opportunities, networking events and career consultation and advice.

A path of focus, for a return to work

Teresa Basile, now Marketing Manager with the International Cricket Council (ICC) was awarded an AGSM Career Comeback sponsorship in 2017 after taking maternity leave to have her first child. Most of Teresa’s career had been in the FMCG and automotive industries.

“I was in a senior leadership role in marketing communications until I had my first child,” she says. “While on maternity leave, I was trying to stay up to date with the latest news and developments in my industry, and across marketing generally.”

Teresa had subscribed to Women’s Agenda and that’s where she saw the opportunity to apply for the AGSM Career Comeback sponsorship. “It looked like the perfect opportunity to stay connected, and engage in continual learning both personally and professionally,” she says. So, she applied, and her application was successful.

“Just being accepted was a massive confidence boost for me,” says Teresa. “It gave me a renewed sense of worth and belonging after being out of action for a while – and something to focus on to set goals for myself which was great.”

By the time Teresa went to the introductory session for the Career Comeback program, she was pregnant with her second child.

“It was actually great timing, to be working through something when you’re not technically at work. The ongoing development, growth, connection and networking presented new opportunities for me,” she said.

Being based in Melbourne didn’t stop Teresa from participating in the course. “AGSM had allowances for interstate participants for travel and day care costs. It showed they’d really thought through the whole process to make it as seamless as possible, supporting our care responsibilities so we could justify being there.”

During the program, Teresa worked closely with AGSM’s client engagement team, who provided support and advice to reflect on her career, her goals and which courses to take and why.
“They were wonderful guides, explaining the outcomes of each module, and how they would fit my personal interests or the skills and knowledge I needed to develop,” says Teresa.

“It was clear to me that AGSM is very focused on getting women back into the workforce and making sure talent can be further developed and harnessed after a break,”


Flexing the lifelong learning muscle

Teresa with two young girls

For Teresa, the course presented not only a great opportunity to mentally prepare for a return to work – it was also the perfect potential step towards beginning an MBA.

“Completing an MBA has been on my agenda for quite some time, and through finishing the CEMD, you gain credits towards the MBA course if you choose to progress,” she says.

Always be learning is one of AGSM’s core principles, and a reason that programs like Career Comeback are vital for people who are feeling isolated from a professional network.

“It really kickstarts you back into formal education, and further potential learning,” says Teresa, who found the balance suited her while she was at home parenting. “In terms of workload it wasn’t at all onerous. You knew in advance the time commitment, so could make plans in your life to be able to commit to the study.”

Addressing the leadership gender gap in Australia

Teresa says another inspirational aspect of the course was the agenda to elevate women in leadership, to greater opportunities.

“It was clear to me that AGSM is very focused on getting women back into the workforce and making sure talent can be further developed and harnessed after a break,” she said. Teresa says taking time for maternity leave was a great circuit breaker – and an opportunity to take stock of her career and reassess her direction.

“It helped me realise I was really keen to explore a new industry, in particular I was interested in working in sport,” she says.

She began looking for new roles in the sporting sector, receiving coaching and support from the AGSM team throughout the process. And in October 2018, was awarded a new role as the Marketing
Manager with the International Cricket Council (ICC) – and now she is part of the local organising committee for the ICC T20 World Cup 2020.

“I was so pleased to be able to achieve that goal. I felt like all the stars aligned for me to take this next exciting step in my career,” says Teresa.
She has returned to work full-time and is adjusting to the new work-life balance, with great support from her new employer.

“Knowing your employer is open to and advocates flexibility is reassuring,” she says. Especially if she makes the decision to take on further study down the track.

“I’m hoping to be able to explore an MBA in the future. But if not, there are so many other great short courses to study with AGSM,” she says. “I believe the value of ongoing learning is so crucial, it doesn’t matter what stage you are in your career – self-improvement is always important.”

“The ongoing development, growth, connection and networking presented new opportunities for me.”

AGSM’s Design Your Career Comeback course will run from 21 to 23 August this year. To learn more about AGSM short course opportunities, head to: