While many a Wellesley mom feels out of the corporate loop after years of staying at home and focusing almost solely on the kids, Mary Kaye sees a ton of potential for these women to thrive in the workplace despite the many changes that new technology and the sour economy have brought. After all, a lot of these women have been running PTOs, overseeing big nonprofit groups or otherwise exercising their skills — they just haven’t been getting paid a salary.
Kaye recently launched a coaching business called Comeback Moms out of her home in Wellesley that she hopes will help her clients gain confidence that their skills are still valuable in the workplace (she’s also writing a book, blogging and doing public speaking). Services include a 10-step program that involves self-discovery and career planning, as well as goal coaching and tuning up interviewing skills and resumes. Kaye herself is a comeback mom who began her career as a Navy and commercial pilot and later was a corporate director involved with training, recruiting and other jobs (“The skills I learned in the air don’t compare to the ones I’ve learned on the ground at home with my 3 kids.”)
Kaye says the timing is good for her business in that the rough economy is forcing some moms to think about getting back into the workforce sooner than they otherwise might have (some are sharing their comeback stories via Kaye’s blog). She notes that this is even true in Wellesley where many moms have been on solid financial footing. “They might have thought they’d head back to work a few years down the road, but circumstances such as non-existent bonuses, salary cuts, and perhaps even spouses getting ‘down-sized’ has caused them to speed things up,” she says. “My company helps women to ground that job search in their passions, strengths, and their lifestyle wants, so that it is much more than just finding a ‘job.'”
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Kaye’s outlook for comeback moms is bullish. “They are a different type of employee: a professional woman who doesn’t want to climb the corporate ladder, perhaps doesn’t require costly benefits and needs very little hand-holding to get the job done,” she says. “Corporations are also floundering with ways to leverage the abilities of the Gen Y employee and comeback moms make great mentors for this very capable yet unfocused generation.”
Moms often get the itch to re-enter the workforce once their youngest child hits kindergarten, Kaye says. Some then delay going back to the workforce by adding a dog to the family mix, she says.
Technology can be scary for the comeback mom, Kaye acknowledges, but advises: “When a woman’s 11-year-old knows more about how to scan, download, upload, IM, text, friend and post than she does, it is time to get in the game.” Kaye, who is present on everything from Twitter to Facebook to LinkedIn, says she typically brings moms into the social networking world by starting with Facebook.
Comeback dads will need to look elsewhere for help, as Kaye says her area of expertise is on moms. However, partners do naturally need to play a big role in assisting comeback moms.
“As a woman makes her way back to paid work the man has a dual role – that of a supportive husband, and that of an involved parent. As a husband, the man becomes part of the comeback team, which includes – a close friend (or two), an online group (either a professional organization or networking group such as mothersandmore.com or workitmom.com) and the spouse,” she says. “A comeback mom’s partnership with her husband is solidified up front – how often they’ll meet, what are his expectations for her comeback, what role he will play based on his strengths, etc. This formalized relationship continues through the comeback journey.”
Kaye has established some informal partnerships to get the business and her website up and running, but is mainly handling the business herself. While Comeback Moms is still new, Kaye has plenty of plans to expand, including into the area of virtual group coaching online.