SHE’S BACK with Lisa Unwin

Audio production by James Ede, Be Heard

Prefer listening on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify? Just click below.

As of 2016, children born in the West have a 50% chance of living to age 105. And it’s entirely possible that you will live to be 100, too.

Longer life expectancies mean that the duration of our careers will have to extend as well.

It might soon be common for people to work for 50, 60 or perhaps even 70 years!

According to Linda Gratton, the Professor at the London Business School and the author of a remarkable book, ”The 100 Year Life”, the model of a “three-stage” life (education, work, retirement) is already morphing into a multi-staged life.

Within this new multi-staged life, each phase might have a different focus. We might focus on financial success and personal accomplishments at first. Then, we might move on to creating a better work/life balance. Over time, we might gradually begin to explore options, reinvent ourselves, and finally invest time in giving back and making a positive impact on our community.

Transitions between these various stages will probably be marked with sabbaticals. People will take time off to rest and recharge, improve their health, re-invest in their relationships, or acquire the skills necessary for the next phase of their lives.

A huge, yet under-utilised and under-appreciated, part of our society has already been testing these “sabbaticals” for decades.

Many women take career breaks to take care of their children or other relatives, such as ageing parents. Some men are gradually joining them, too. And, sadly, what they quickly find out is that it’s really difficult to get reintroduced to the workplace after taking a break.

Our guest on this episode of CultureLab, Lisa Unwin, discovered that there’s a huge untapped potential in this talent pool.

This triggered her to carry out research in collaboration with the Edinburgh Business School, to establish a consultancy called “She’s Back” and to co-author a book under the same title.

Lisa’s book aims to help hundreds of thousands of professional women (and men) who have taken an extended career break, then realise that they have 20 (or more) years of professional life ahead of them and have no idea how to get back onto the right career track.

Episode Highlights
  • The real reasons women want to return to work after a break
  • How to overcome the main obstacles women (and men) face when attempting to return to work after a career break
  • Benefits of tapping into this talent pool that not many companies think about
  • What does a long game mean when it comes to planning your career (and life)
  • What companies should do to make sure that they cultivate an environment where people can build careers that fit their lives, and lives that fit their careers

Listen to the interview in the player below, or on iTunes. If you like what you hear, please leave a review and it may be featured on a future episode.

Audio production by James Ede, Be Heard

Prefer listening on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify? Just click below.

More about Lisa Unwin

Lisa is the founder of She’s Back. Prior to taking a career break, Lisa had a 20-year career in professional services. She joined Arthur Andersen where she became a partner in 2001, specialising in leadership, communication and change management.

When Andersen was acquired by Deloitte in 2002, Lisa led a programme to address the challenges of merging two very different cultures. She later became the Director of Brand and Communication. Lisa founded She’s Back in 2014, in response to the lack of clear opportunities for women to return to professional life after taking a career break.

Research performed in 2015 by She’s Back, the University of Edinburgh Business School and sponsors from five different sectors, highlighted the scale of untapped potential in this particular talent pool. Lisa and co-author Deb Khan wrote “She’s Back: Your Guide to Returning to Work“, a practical handbook to help women re-ignite their careers.

Connect with Lisa on LinkedIn, Twitter, or the She’s Back website.

Resources and Books Mentioned on the Podcast


“She’s Back” by Lisa Unwin and Deb Khan

“The Wife Drought” by Annabel Crabb


Eat Sleep Work Repeat hosted by Bruce Daisley

The Broad Experience hosted by Ashley Milne-Tyte

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