60 seconds with Tracey Barnes

We recently caught up with Tracey Barnes – a Mum who left the financial services industry when she became a Mum and became a teaching assistant. Now her children are older, she has returned to her original industry. We wanted to get a better idea of why she made the decisions she did in the hope that she will inspire others who are thinking about changing careers or trying something completely different, having had children.

Could you give us a brief summary about yourself

I am 49 years old with two girls aged 19 and 16.  I live in Darlington with my partner and children.  I left school at 16 and joined Barclays Bank on a YTS scheme, got kept on and remained there for 18 years.  I did various jobs in the bank - starting in the back office and cashiering to personal banker, business banker, training and corporate services.  I left in 2003 for a 2-year career break and in that time I did a part-time university course and qualified as a teaching assistant. 

I worked as a TA for 10 years and then 2 years as a Higher Level Teaching Assistant teaching children from aged 3 to 11.  In October I left school to join a small Commercial Finance Brokers.  It was a big decision for me due to my age and the fact that I mostly liked my job (although it was hard) and I was hoping to be able to work part-time at some point in the near future.  I think my new job will pay me more money which will enable me to work part-time in the future.

Why did you feel you couldn't work in the Bank after having children?

I was working part-time in the Corporate centre about 15 miles from home. It was a rush to drop off and pick up my young children at nursery and school every day, the work was not fulfilling, I had performance management targets which didn't motivate me, I felt undervalued and the job was dull.

How easy was it to adapt to working in a school after working in a corporate environment?

Working in school was difficult as it was completely new but I enjoyed the challenge and it meant I could be home for my children when I needed to be.  I soon adapted and I think, that because I enjoyed it, I learnt quickly. 

What did you miss about working in a corporate environment? What do you think you gained by working in the TA role?

I missed the social aspect of the Bank.  Working as a TA wasn't easy but I enjoyed learning.  When I had to teach something unfamiliar such as History or Geography, I had to learn it myself first and plan the lesson so it was interesting.  I was a good TA and did get a lot of satisfaction.  It also kept me fit - I taught a lot of PE.  Obviously, the holidays were good whilst my children were growing up.

What made you decide that it was the right time to leave the school and head back into finance?

I wasn't expecting to leave school although I was always on the look-out for something else, that paid better and was less stressful, and also something that would provide a new challenge.  I always saw myself working in a small office/admin type role.  My now boss approached me after he found out that I was an ex-banker as he was looking for someone else to join his team.

How did you find the transition back into the corporate world?

I have found the transition surprisingly easy.  I have a lot to learn but I am learning quickly as I thrive on a challenge.  I do miss my old colleagues and the children but haven't really had time to dwell on that.  It is an easier job, especially physically, whereas when teaching I had to be constantly thinking on my feet and preparing for the next thing.  I am quite a confident person and the last year or so I have been reading a lot of motivational, self-help type books which have helped me to set goals and plan for the future.

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