Meet the AVP/Branch Head of Branch Head of Kotak who Restarted her Career after a 5 Year Break

  • Neha
  • in
  • Working Women
  • |
  • 26 Feb 2016

“A second career is not the same as your first one.  So the route to it must be different too.”

This was what Uma Maheshwari realized when she decided it was time to get back to work after a 5-year gap in her career.

Uma Maheshwari is not your run-of-the-mill Indian woman.

After working her way across the corporate jungle-gym for 18 years, with just two 3-month maternity leaves when she had her two sons, Uma had finally reached the level of AVP/Branch Head at HDFC Bank.  The sky was the limit for her now and she was finally basking in the sunshine of her hard work, having started her career in telesales in a Chennai hospitality company and climbing her way up.

I worked till I almost delivered my second son at my desk, and no one could believe it. My boss kept asking me to start my mat-leave, and I kept asking him for one more week, because, what was I going to go sit at home and do? So, that’s how I am.

However, her sons were now 8 and 11 years old and her extended hours away from them had started bothering her.  She realized that time flies doubly fast when children are growing up and before she knew it, they’d be gone.  She felt that she would repent it forever if she didn’t pause her career for a while, to be there full-time for her children and enjoy motherhood to its fullest.

Also, I had heard and realized that at my elder son’s age – 11 – boys tended to go off track and become more rebellious, run away, get involved in unsavoury behaviour, etc. And when I looked at my career I had actually, without even realizing it, already reached where I’d envisioned I would go, so many years before that. The time had come to take a break, spend quality-time with my family, focus on my children and give them my undivided attention when they needed me most. I am so glad that I did. In five years we took two vacations a year; we travelled to exotic places and created so many happy memories together. It was quite perfect.

Her well-wishers were shocked.  “This is career suicide”, “Why are you throwing away all your hard work?”, “The kids will be just fine.”  But Uma’s mind was made up.  She put in her papers with HDFC and said good-bye to her colleagues.  She had new goals in her calendar now.

Uma spent the next 5 years as a full-time mom – cooking for her children, helping them with their homework and taking lots of vacations – something she hadn’t ever managed to do owing to the conflicting schedules of her and her husband’s jobs.  But now was different, now was the time to create long-lasting memories and revel in the glory of being a mother.

Fast-forward to now.  Uma’s children grew up.  They are now 13 and 16, independent in every way and busy in their own lives.  Suddenly, Uma started getting that gnawing feeling again, that restlessness that she could do more.  The desire to return to the career she loved.

And so Uma started her job-search again, trying the traditional job-hunting routes.  Few months later, she came to the sad realization that the regular routes weren’t working. Her resume got a gazillion hits on traditional job portals, and she got scores of first interviews every week. However, when she did that telephone interview, they would hear about her break, and the job opening would seemingly evaporate into thin air.  Even after a glorious career, Uma started doubting her abilities to be able to restart in her second career – had those naysayers been right?  Would she never be able to get back to work just because she took some time away to be there for her children?

It was then that her eye fortuitously caught a newspaper article about JobsForHer – our portal that connects career-break women with companies that want to rehire them, in spite of, and sometimes because of the break. So, she looked us up, created her profile, applied for jobs that suited her qualifications and experience...then sat back and waited.

In 3 days, Uma was interviewing with Kotak Mahindra Bank; she was offered the job.  She filed papers with HR that evening and was back at work the following week.

How did she manage that?

My interviewing boss said to me, “This role requires a lot of customer service and relationship management, and also a lot of sales expertise. Do you think you can handle that?”

So I said, “Sales? I’ve been selling something or the other every day of my life for the last 5 years. Whether it’s breakfast to my two sons, the purchase I thought was justified for the household to my husband, or my price for vegetables to the vegetable vendor, I was selling nonstop. Relationship management? If I could manage the relationships between myself and my mother-in-law, my husband, my children, my sister and her family, and my staff at home, I think I can manage most others.”

And then he said, “When can you start?”

Uma is now the Branch Head and Associate Vice President of their 2nd largest branch in Karnataka, which is also their fastest growing one.  She has returned to work with a force and gusto that not many people at her age can find within them.

And she wants to use her newfound serendipity to start hiring other women who are restarting their careers.

If you’re looking to start your career, or for new and exciting roles to showcase the skills you’ve gained along your professional and personal journey, you can find them at We have 600+ companies looking at hiring women who are starting out, already working or restarting their careers in job opportunities ranging from full-time to part-time to work-from-home and freelance. Create your profile, upload your resume and start job-hunting today! 

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