The Power Returners 2020

The professional superstars who have continued to climb the corporate ladder after a career break of two years or more.

by Kate Bassett
Last Updated: 24 Feb 2020

LAURA MURPHY, Sky

Group service management, strategy manager

Pattern worked: 4 days per week

Murphy returned to the workplace after a ten-year career break which she spent bringing up her family. She attended women returners’ seminars on topics including building your CV and establishing a LinkedIn profile, before securing her part-time role as strategy manager with Sky. Following her success in this role and the acquisition of Sky by Comcast NBCU, she was asked to make initial visits to New York and Philadelphia to start the development of a global strategy.


TZANY KOKALOVA WHELDON, University of Birmingham

Reader in nuclear physics, director of the postron imaging centre

Pattern worked: 80% contract

After a 3.5-year career break to care for her twin boys and relocate the family from Germany to the UK, Kokalova completed a Daphne Jackson Fellowship in 2013. Hosted at the University of Birmingham and funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council, this enabled Kokalova to return to her career in science. Today, Kokalova’s work spans the full breadth of nuclear physics from experimental nuclear astrophysics and machine learning, to medical isotopes, applications and industry-related nuclear decommissioning. Her responsibilities include teaching and supervising eight PhD students, publishing papers and giving around three invited oral presentations a year. Kokalova is also supervising a current Daphne Jackson applicant and has key roles mentoring women.


Image credit: Lynn Gail via Getty Images

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Mike Ashley: Does it matter if the public hates you right now?

The Sports Direct founder’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has drawn criticism, but in the...

4 films to keep you sane during the coronavirus lockdown

Cirrus CEO Simon Hayward shares some choices to put things in perspective.

Pandemic ends public love affair with Richard Branson et al

Opinion: The larger-than-life corporate mavericks who rose to prominence in the 80s and 90s suddenly...

The Squiggly Career: How to be a chief strengths spotter

When leading remotely, it's more important than ever to make sure your people spend their...

"Blind CVs don't improve your access to talent"

Opinion: If you want to hire socially mobile go-getters, you need to know the context...

The highs and lows of being a super-achiever

Pay it Forward podcast: techUK boss Jacqueline de Rojas and Google UK's marketing strategy and...