Returning to work after an extended break can be difficult even for experienced professionals. In a bid to provide an innovative transition back to work for professionals, A.T. Kearney developed ‘Encore’. The 10-week programme differs from other programmes by its design to throw the participant back into the deep end of routine professional life, placing them within an active project team that carries the responsibility for delivering valuable insights and results for a client engagement.
There are many reasons to exit from professional life for a period of time: from illness to needing to care for a loved one, from family commitments to seeing the world. Doing so is, in many ways, not difficult. Re-entering professional life after an extended break is, on the other hand, often met with considerable glass barriers. Examples include employers that take a discriminatory stance on whether the break was ‘deserving’ or that belief the those out of the work world ‘have lost the ability to work’. Getting back in is often no easy feat.
To help experienced professional services people that have, for one reason or another, been away from their professional services career for a long period of time and seek re-entry, A.T. Kearney launched its Encore programme.
During the ten week programme, orientation begins at a local office, where Encore Associates are introduced to working life at the consulting firm. The participants are made aware of the resources and methodologies at the firm available to resolve client problems and create value. While taking part in the programme, participants are engaged with staff, whether professionally or at social events – all the while being brought up-to-date on current best practices within different practices.
Throughout the programme, Encore Associates will be placed within the practical sphere, with old knowledge sharpened and recent changes in methodology and knowledge brought in line with the old. The programme offers both an internship as well as bi-weekly professional development sessions. The firm remarks that “all training activities are designed specifically to build the increasingly complex skill set required to be successful in the business world and at A.T. Kearney.”
Encore offers a number of trajectories. A select number of participants will be offered full-time employment at the firm after completion, while for others that themselves see no, or are not offered, a future at A.T. Kearney, the programme will provide a résumé builder, relevant work experience or a skill sharpener.
The programme is part of the firm’s wider commitment to diversity and inclusion, part of the firm’s wider ‘Vision 2020’ ambition “of becoming the industry’s most admired firm.” The programme is added to its other programmes addressing diversity and inclusion issues, including Flex, Pathway for Parents, Sponsorship, and the WorkSmart Programme.