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Advice / Career Paths / Career Stories

“Just Go For It!”: This VP’s Advice On Rejoining the Workforce After Having Kids

Lisa Carver, a vice president of professional services at Tandym Group | Courtesy of Tandym Group
Lisa Carver, a vice president of professional services at Tandym Group | Courtesy of Tandym Group

Lisa Carver started her career in the fashion industry—but it didn’t take long for her to realize that it wasn’t a great fit. To help navigate this crossroads, Carver turned to a friend who introduced her to an organization called Careers for Women.

“As someone passionate about supporting women, I signed up to attend one of their events, and at the age of 21, this organization changed my career path and my life!” she says.

At the event, Carver first learned about staffing from one of the speakers. “She spoke about how it’s a relationship-driven industry with an opportunity to make a real difference in people’s lives,” she recalls.

Carver was instantly intrigued. As a child, her mother owned a small business and Carver helped when she was in high school by making cold calls to potential vendors. That experience taught her the value of building relationships and reaching out to people. “It was rewarding,” she says. “That’s how I knew the combination of sales and recruiting was perfect for me, because I am such a people person.”

Today, Carver is a vice president of professional services at the staffing and recruiting company Tandym Group, where she was one of the Parsippany, NJ office’s first hires in 2010. As part of her continued passion of supporting women, she also co-founded the company’s Women's Network (in addition to various other volunteer roles).

Here, Carver shares why she put her career on hold to be more present for her two daughters, the importance of being transparent when managing a team, and how Tandym has supported her as a woman in leadership.

What led to your job at Tandym Group, and how did you know it would be a good fit?

I worked in the staffing industry for seven years prior to having my first daughter in 1999 and then my second in 2000. Shortly after I returned from maternity leave in 2001, one of the biggest tragedies in U.S. history occurred: 9/11. I remember the day so vividly because it was one of the scariest moments in my life. I was working in Manhattan, and I couldn’t get home to hug and be with my children. That’s when I had an “aha moment” and realized I needed to step away from my career and be present for my girls.

After nine years, I was ready to shift the focus back to my career. Looking for some advice, I contacted my first boss in the industry. During that call, I was offered not only advice, but also a job opportunity. He was now working for Tandym Group, and they were looking to expand into Parsippany, NJ. As one of just a few people in that office, I was going to have an opportunity to build something from scratch and I’d have the flexibility to work part-time—something that was important to me as a parent. I accepted the job and, 13 years later, I’m still here!

Describe your career path at Tandym Group. Where did you start and where are you now? How did Tandym support and encourage your professional growth?

I started at Tandym Group in 2010 as an account executive. As someone trying to expand our business, I began joining various community organizations to meet people and start building a professional network. I leaned heavily on our internal marketing department and they played a crucial role in helping me be creative and cast a wider net. From day one I felt supported by leadership to take my ideas and run with them, and in just nine years, we grew the office from three people to 25.

I have always been given the resources I needed to grow in my career. I’ve attended seminars to learn how to be a better partner to our clients and have continued to learn through internal leadership training. I’ve been promoted several times and I’m lucky to say I’ve had a large group of colleagues cheering for me along the way.

What are you responsible for in your current role as a vice president of professional services? What do you like most about your job?

I manage a team of account executives and I am responsible for expanding our professional services business while collaborating with multiple teams across the company. There are so many things that I love about my job! The workplace has changed so much in recent years and Tandym Group has been extremely adaptable during the pandemic. We’ve now adopted the technology necessary to collaborate at a greater scale and even grow nationally. I get to network and build relationships every day and help companies solve their hiring challenges, which is extremely rewarding. As a leader, I enjoy mentoring my team, and organizing outings and charity events.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I think the key to being a good leader is transparency. I like to share both my successes and my failures with my team as a reminder that we are all human. It’s important to me to lead by example and remain a positive role model for anyone I mentor—my door is always open!

I also encourage those that I lead to get involved in activities outside their day-to-day roles. Whether it’s joining one of our many DE&I groups or participating in a volunteer day, it’s a great way to meet people outside the team and make friends within the organization.

What has been your biggest challenge as a woman in leadership and how did you overcome it?

There have been times early in my career where I felt unheard or like I didn’t have a seat at the table because I am a woman.

When I joined Tandym Group, I was among a group of women that formed the Women’s Network—a group focused on ensuring that women of all levels are supporting and empowering one another to move forward in their careers. Every woman at Tandym is encouraged to join from their first day here.

Today, I am so proud of all women and the strides we’ve made in the workplace. While there’s still work to be done, we’ve broken through the glass ceiling. It’s so nice to see how far we’ve come. It’s also inspiring to me to work for a company that has so many women in leadership positions.

As someone who took nine years off from your career to raise a family, what advice do you have for other parents looking to rejoin the workforce after a break?

My advice is to just go for it! Take the leap and don’t look back. Many of us start to doubt ourselves, but when you land that first interview, be honest and confident. Companies understand that raising kids is important. Stepping away from work to focus on your family is not only a common decision, but also a brave one.

When I rejoined the workforce, I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, it feels like I never left!” Things had certainly changed, but I was open to learning and hopped right back in. The silver lining today is that there are a lot of flexible work options for parents.

How have you been able to successfully set boundaries between your work and home life?

During the workday, I try to limit my distractions. If I am taking time away from my family, I want to be super productive and feel good about the work I am accomplishing. When I am with my family, I am completely present. It’s so important to live in the moment because you can’t get that time back.

What advice do you have for working parents who may be struggling to find this balance between work and family?

Make sure your employer offers you the flexibility you need. Set time aside each day to be with your family—it’s so important.

For years I carried around so much guilt about leaving my girls to go back to work, but looking back, I believe I served as a role model for them. I showed them strength, independence, and perseverance.

What are you most passionate about outside of work?

I am passionate about traveling and making new memories with my family. I love getting outdoors, whether I am on a hike, biking, or playing my new favorite sport—pickleball!

I am also very passionate about giving back to others. I donate a lot of my time to participate in community initiatives. We take so much for granted, and it feels good to help people and know you’re making a difference in someone’s life.