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Turning flowers into office hours

“Every day when I return home from work, I’m so excited. It’s so fulfilling.”- Anastasiia Sibiriakova

Anastasiia Sibiriakova always looks forward to International Women’s Day, held every year on 8 March.


In her native Russia, the day is celebrated a bit differently from the purple bunting, panel discussions and cupcakes we see in Australia.


Instead, International Women’s Day is an occasion to recognise all women – mothers, colleagues, daughters and partners – with flowers, sweets and even gift cards.


“It’s widely celebrated but it’s more a day of spring and beauty, not much about gender equality. It’s like Mother’s Day in Australia. It’s a public holiday with a slightly different connotation,” she said.


Anastasiia has a degree in information systems. She started work as a software developer engineer immediately after graduating in Russia in 2008. She was the only woman in a team with 16 men.


“I was lucky on International Women’s Day there,” she said and laughed. “I had a lot of flowers and gifts.”


Then, six years ago Anastasiia, her husband and their young son immigrated to Australia.


It was last year while enjoying International Women’s Day in Melbourne with some of her Russian-speaking friends, that she mentioned thinking about returning to work. One of her friends shared a post she had seen on LinkedIn about ANZ’s Return to Work (RTW) program. She encouraged Anastasiia to apply.


The Return to Work program runs every two years and is traditionally launched on 8 March, to coincide with International Women’s Day.


“I registered for the webinar the next day and applied,” Anastasiia said.


In her application Anastasiia said: “I have no knowledge or experience in cloud but I’d really love to know about it more.”


She was worried about her chances. “In technology, a six-year gap is huge. Cloud is completely new. But the principles of software development are the same. If you know the fundamentals, you can learn new languages more quickly than when you first started in university.”


She was one of 2500 applicants. Organisers at ANZ were overwhelmed by the response, gradually narrowing the field to a class of 43 men and women for 2023.


Passion and skills


Each year ANZ continues to see an increase in the number of people wanting to join via the program. Like Anastasiia they have a unique mix of talent and skills which they want to add to our organisation.


They also have enormous passion and are looking for flexible and meaningful work. Since the program's inception, there have been about 5,000 applications, creating more than 100 jobs and inspiring thousands more to reignite their careers after having a break.


The ANZ job interview was Anastasiia’s first in English. She described binge-watching ANZ’s YouTube channel and enlisting the help of a professional career consultant to help with her resume and interview practise.


Successful, she started her new role as a cloud engineer at ANZ in July, working three days a week in a small team from Melbourne, Sydney and India. With the youngest of her two children now in child care, she hopes to start full-time work this month.


“I got all my ‘ticks’: Cloud, three days a week …” she said as she counted them off on her fingers. “For the first time in my life, I feel have so much support.”


“I’m very lucky that I decided to be an engineer. I love every day here at ANZ. I’m not joking. Every day when I return home from work, I’m so excited. It’s so fulfilling.”


Her advice to others interested in the Return to Work program?


“If you’re looking for a job, tell everybody that you’re looking for a job. Because networking is amazing.”


Carina Parisella is Innovation and Diversity Editor at bluenotes


For more information on ANZ’s Return to Work program, visit ANZ Return to Work Program | ANZ.


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