Redefining Career Breaks: Julianne Miles' MBE MBA'93J Advocacy for Inclusion

Julianne Miles MBE MBA'93J
Julianne Miles MBE MBA'93J

Julianne Miles MBE MBA'93J is a trailblazing force, serving as the CEO and Co-Founder of Career Returners (previously Women Returners). Julianne came to INSEAD in 1992 after a first career in strategy consulting. Following her MBA, she joined Diageo where she worked in Corporate Strategy and Marketing in the UK and Australia. 

After several years, Julianne took a four-year career break to care for her young children. During this time, she identified her passion for psychology, leading her to retrain as a Chartered Psychologist. Her INSEAD experience, particularly a Career Dynamics course with Linda Brimm, Professor of Organisational Behaviour, played a pivotal role in her decision by posing critical questions from a psychological perspective about work happiness and the nature of career success. 

As a coaching psychologist, Julianne gained a unique perspective on the challenges women face when returning to work after taking extended career breaks for childcare, eldercare or other reasons. A loss of professional identity and confidence is compounded by recruitment bias against candidates without recent experience. This perspective led her in 2014 to co-found Women Returners, a purpose-driven organization providing consulting, coaching, and networking services to individuals, organizations, and governments. In January 2024 Women Returners became Career Returners to be more inclusive of all genders on career break. Career Returners’ mission is to remove the "career break penalty", normalising career breaks and enabling professionals to return to suitable-level roles using their skills and experience. 

“Way too often talented and experienced people who have stepped out of the workforce for a number of years, either don’t get back in at all, or get back in at much lower levels, or feel they have to retrain completely.” - Julianne Miles  

Since its inception, Career Returners has partnered with over 170 leading organizations on returner programmes which have helped more than 3,000 individuals to successfully re-enter the workforce after career breaks of up to 30 years. A significant contribution of Career Returners is the pioneering of “returnships”, which serve as a supported route back to mid to senior level roles for experienced professionals returning from career breaks. They also run the free Career Returners Professional Network, supporting over 9,000 members, and partner with the UK Government on employability programmes. In 2019 Julianne received an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to Business and Equality.  

Julianne's connection to INSEAD and its mission to develop responsible leaders who transform business and society played a vital role in her career. The real-world teaching approach at INSEAD gave her the confidence to develop an impactful social entrepreneurship venture, reshaping the landscape for professionals on career break. 

Julianne's story stands as a shining example of how one person's dedication and vision can make a significant impact. Her work with Career Returners inspires individuals and organizations to create a more inclusive, diverse, and equitable professional world. 


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