Like many women, Jenny Bullard stepped away from the workplace to focus on family when her children were born. When she returned, the world had changed and she found herself asking whether she was up to the task. Armed with a can-do attitude and flexible mindset, she not only got the job done, but her responsibilities kept growing, and so did her career! Today, as JDA’s senior director of Corporate Workplace Services, she looks back on her journey and offers insight and inspiration for those looking to return to the workforce after taking time away.
Jenny and her handsome grandson focusing on family and fun!
A little more than 20 years ago, I returned to the workforce after taking four years away to start my family. I felt ready to return, but wanting to only work part time to start, I registered with an agency for temporary work. Lucky for me, my first placement was working as a receptionist in JDA’s UK office, which at the time was just 30 people. I knew my way around an office; my previous position had been with a financial institution in London, and this position sounded like a great place to get my career back on track. So, you can imagine my dismay when I discovered how far technology had advanced in those four years! I realized that I barely knew how to turn the computer on, let alone use Microsoft Word and Excel! And what on earth was e-mail? Despite this, JDA kept asking me back and then offered me a permanent part time position, which suited me perfectly with a young family. My shaken confidence quickly recovered as I learned the skills I needed to succeed, by hands-on learning and the help of some great colleagues. At that time, JDA did not have the formal training and excellent self-learning programs which are available today.
A year after finding my footing (and confidence) again at the reception desk, I started working for the vice president of Consulting, followed by a role as the professional assistant to the EMEA regional vice president. I later added facilities management to my role. Part time work transitioned into full time and I was promoted to EMEA Facilities Manager, which included responsibility for telecoms and purchasing. I continued to earn more responsibility – and another promotion – adding oversight of facilities for the APAC region. There was a lot to learn and a lot to do as JDA acquired Manugistics and i2, and then merged with RedPrairie. Every step along the way I gained more experience and responsibility, eventually being promoted into my current role as Senior Director, Corporate Workplace Services. This position has a heavy emphasis on real estate and leasing activities, giving me the opportunity to own project management for numerous office build outs. I have a great team of people working with me in Facilities, and enjoy great support from senior management.
My journey at JDA has been varied and challenging, and I have been fortunate to work for managers over the years who believed in me and offered me some great opportunities to grow. As I reflect on where I started and where I am today, there are three things that stand out as keys to my success:
- I embraced change. JDA is a fast-growing company and my own role has evolved and developed with that growth.
- I stayed flexible and open to new ideas or ways of doing things. The ability to learn from others and use new processes and applications over the years has enhanced my personal growth.
- I worked hard and was willing to take on most anything that was thrown my way. A positive attitude to changes and additional responsibilities has been a key factor to success.
I know that stepping away from the workforce to start a family and be home with children – whether it is for a few months or several years – can be a difficult decision for many women and their families. Jumping back into the workforce after a long absence can be daunting as well. I’m grateful that I found in JDA, an employer who provided an opportunity to work my way back, and then allowed me to grow a wonderful career. I continue to feel challenged and motivated in my role at JDA and enjoy working with such inspiring people. My hope is that others, especially women returning to work following a career break, learn about my journey and know that it is possible to take time away and return to a positive, nurturing work environment. I am living proof that JDA does develop and promote from within.