“We work hard to understand our clients, whether that’s being sensitive to who’s in the room or being realistic about a business’ commercial challenges.”

Our Story


We’re here to support employees and employers alike to get the most out of people returning to work – whether that’s after maternity or shared parental leave, sickness or sabbatical, or any other extended period of leave. Our practical solutions are designed both to support the individual and to educate employers in this vital area.

Today’s workplace is waking up to the needs of an increasingly diverse and complex workforce. Many of us seek fulfilment in work, but in turn we need our employers to recognise that people have personal priorities too, and to help them find a healthy, sustainable balance between the two.

Returnees are a key issue here. Many people have to take an extended period of absence from work, for a whole range of reasons, but historically employers have not always addressed this need well. Returnees may feel lacking in confidence and out of the loop, and employers have not always provided adequate practical or emotional support for those feeling their way back into a role. Worse, returnees have sometimes been penalised for their absence, in the form of reduced opportunities for development or promotion.


Yet returnees represent a massive potential resource that UK plc has yet to fully tap into. Maximising the impact of their return benefits everyone: returnees are typically keen to get on, productive, pragmatic and loyal. They are highly likely to reward an enlightened, supportive employer with motivation, high performance, and the benefits of their experience and expertise.

The Talent Keeper Specialists was founded in 2012 by Jessica Chivers to address this issue from every angle, at every level. Individual change sometimes isn’t possible without cultural transformation, so we provide support, advice and expertise to all those involved in the return-to-work process – from 1:1 coaching for returnees, to workshops for line managers, to business-case and policy advice for HR leaders and executive sponsors.

All our work is customised to the needs of the individual and the organisation, and is informed by the latest research and best-practice case studies. We work hard to understand our clients, whether that’s being sensitive to who’s in the room or being realistic about a business’ commercial challenges. Our experience ranges widely across industries, sectors, disciplines and pay grades.

Above all, we are passionate about what we do: making sure that the talent an organisation already has doesn’t go overlooked or unused, but is fully recognised and encouraged to flourish and deliver



I’m the founder of The Talent Keeper Specialists and the author of Mothers Work! How to Get a Grip on Guilt and Make a Smooth Return to Work (Hay House, 2011). I’m on a mission to iron out the issues that stop women and returning talent taking up positions they’re capable of but don’t do the ironing at home. A science graduate who chose business over a PhD, I started my career in the City in learning and development at Barclays before pursuing a career as a coaching psychologist. I worked with The Mind Gym for nearly a decade, designing and delivering development programmes for managers from blue-chips to SMEs in a variety of industries. As a coaching psychologist, member of the British Psychological Society and Accredited Executive Coach (Association for Coaching) I take an evidence-based approach to assist people in improving their performance and wellbeing at work and beyond, often sharing relevant practical research insights too. I have two sparky children and one furkid (a whippet called Rocky). Beyond work I love to run (check out my Twitter hashtag #RunWithASmile) and recently did a four year term as an elected District Councillor. Find me on Twitter @jesschivers and us @TalentKeepersUK on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.


My specialism is coaching individuals through maternity leave, redundancy and career change. As well as bringing my own personal experience of many of these challenges, I’m fully accredited with the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development to MCIPD status. My background is in human resources, with 15 successful years working for Barclays Bank and BAE Systems in various roles from talent development to senior HR management. I qualified as a career coach in 2008, and have since worked extensively with senior management. My passion has always been coaching individuals to be the best they can be. I live with my husband and three young boys in West Sussex, where I love to spend free time running and cycling through the countryside.


‘In my 25 years in HR, leadership development, coaching and mentoring, I’ve worked closely with senior leaders and executive board members to design and implement mentoring and coaching schemes, facilitate talent management and lead flagship leadership development programmes. I’m perhaps best-known for creating Asda’s MumtoMum internal mentoring scheme. ‘I’m the co-author of Mentoring New Parents at Work and hold an MSc in Coaching and Mentoring from Sheffield Hallam University Business School. ‘Beyond work, I absolutely love to spend time cooking “with colour” for the family (“go for the rainbow” is my motto!) and walking with friends in the inspirational Yorkshire Sculpture Park.


I have 10 years’ experience working as a Management Consultant specialising in Operational Change and have worked with major retailers such as Tesco, Sainsburys and B&Q, and food manufacturers including Uniq, United Biscuits and Samworth Brothers. After gaining a coaching qualification and becoming a ‘school run dad’ I went on to found Inspiring Dads, a coaching and mentoring business that specialises in helping men to find their own path to ‘Be a Great Dad AND Have a Great Career.’ I’m a contributor to Workingdads.co.uk, Daddyjobs.co.uk and the Talent Keeper Specialists’ Comeback Community™ platform. I’m also a mentor on the Daddilife co-sponsored #DadConnect pilot programme. I’m married to Lisa, a city-based funds lawyer and we have two primary school aged children. I’ve spent seven years combining freelance work with being a primary carer to the children and beyond work and family I umpire at the highest levels of domestic field hockey in England. Clarity of thought and the ability to manage conflict are valuable skills here!


I’m Charlotte – a strengths coach, mum to two little girls, wife to one husband, failing book worm and a wannabe baker.  My background is in Talent Management and Learning and Development. I love helping others be at their best (which is where the strengths coaching comes in) and I pride myself on having a creative but practical approach to support my clients unlock new ways of thinking. I love to see people connect with what energises them and help them figure out how to do more of what they love.  I definitely fall into the ‘always curious’ category and any opportunities to bring greater depth to my knowledge are grabbed with both hands. I’m a champion of asking powerful questions and I always operate with the belief that we all have the answers we’re looking for within us, but sometimes we need a bit of support in finding them.


I have over 25 years’ experience within FTSE 250 companies including Next, Arcadia Group and PageGroup.  I have successfully grown operational businesses with full P&L responsibility for over half my career and then moved into the Talent arena culminating in a newly created Global Talent Director role, working with an Executive Board. I have designed, developed and implemented manager to senior leadership development programmes including  mentoring and coaching for managers/directors/senior leaders, in particular supporting and building the female leadership pipeline. Using my own experiences of overcoming a spinal injury 19 years ago, learning to walk again and rebuilding my life and career; I can empathise with the challenge of returning to the workplace and understanding a ‘same but different’ version of yourself, feeling off kilter at home and work, and grappling with how to evolve and feel comfortable in a different place in your life. I’m curious by nature and have recently ‘gone back to school’ studying a professional coaching qualification at Henley Business School. I enjoy entertaining and cooking for friends – as well as being cooked for! I have one brother who has two teenage daughters – so I’m trying to rise to the challenge of being a ‘cool’ auntie! I love being outdoors and have recently tried horse riding with dubious results!


I am a Barefoot Coaching trained coach, member of the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and I am a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD). I have a 20 year senior HR background where I’ve managed cultural change programmes and experienced first-hand the importance of ensuring employees are valued, engaged and set up for success during periods of transition. I am a flexible working champion, having managed high performing remote flexible teams, successfully worked flexibly myself and more recently I now use my flexible working experience and agile working insights to support my local community as in 2017 I founded ‘Flexible Working Mums Hertford’ which is a social media community campaign to champion and showcase flexible working success.  I also volunteer monthly to support local mums who are on maternity leave and in need of guidance and support with regards to their return to work options and decisions. Always cheering me on are my biggest supporters, Harry (6) and Beatrice (3) without them I would not have had my eyes opened to what a wonderful privilege it is to be raising the next generation and the challenges and opportunities this affords.


I’ve got 15 years of professional marketing experience, predominantly in the insurance marketplace, where I’ve worked for a number of international insurers and brokers. I’ve got the CII and CIM qualifications too. I love my job as nothing gives me more satisfaction that getting to know my customers and creating the appropriate communications for them in the right channels. I’m also passionate about the importance of a more balanced and inclusive approach to workplace culture. My hobbies? Football, darts and my own little Hammer!


Trish is our Chief Organisational Officer; the ‘invisible woman’ most clients don’t meet and without whom we’d be up the creek without a paddle. From scheduling coaching sessions and analysing workshop feedback to fixing technical glitches, she’s a vital part of the team. One of Trish’s best qualities is her anticipation of what’s coming next (or what should be) and cracking on accordingly. Trish has a BA Hons in Business Management and International Business. She has three daughters and is often found cheering them on at Irish dancing, swimming and cross-country. Any spare minutes are spent experimenting in the kitchen (with mixed results she says) and can touch her nose with her tongue.


University College Cork “As an employer University College Cork  recognises the importance of supporting and retaining female staff who take maternity leave, and also the impact that taking time out of the workplace to raise a family can have on the careers of some women.  Pregnancy and childbirth necessitate a break in employment for mothers and the way in which this interruption is managed has important implications for women and their families.  The University had  a range of policies and supports that are available to both female and male staff transitioning to parenthood.  All policies comply with the legal obligations imposed on the University, but it was recognised that there was a need to collate and revise our policies, introduce new supports and have a concise and co-ordinated approach to managing maternity leave transitions whilst meeting the needs of the individual, the line manager and the university. The provision of a Maternity Transition Coaching model was introduced as part of the supports available to female staff.  In order to upskill and develop expertise targeted at pregnant employees I underwent a one to one upskilling session with The Talent Keeper Specialists.  This involved the induction to a framework to develop and promote a coaching service which would maximize the benefits for both the employee and the University. The upskilling coaching involved an overview of the coaching model provided by The Talent Keeper Specialists, provision of materials to support every stage of the interaction with the coachee and a structured goal orientated coaching session framework.  The valuable scenario based discussion allowed for roleplaying which enhanced  my confidence in the delivery of this new initiative in UCC. ”

Helen O’Donoghue, Human Resources, University College Cork   Anglia Ruskin University The workshops were unique in style for us in ARU as we hadn’t previously led a session for staff and then their managers. The staff session gave excellent grounding for the session with their line managers later in the day. “The Talent Keeper Specialists provided practical solutions, challenged our thinking and engaged our staff to focus on progressing their career or facilitate progression for those working for them. All delegates rated the sessions highly as it provided practical, personal ideas and recommendations for furthering their career or supporting those that work for them. It was eye opening for line managers and we were able to challenge assumptions and promote our Part time and Flexible Working Forum through this work. As an HR Manager it was really helpful and insightful to attend sessions for our staff and then their managers; their shared and opposing concerns; and how ARU can provide support for the mutual benefit of staff and their managers. This is so often a challenge for the HR Professional – balancing support with business needs.”

Rachael Cornwall, Head of Talent & Development, Anglia Ruskin University   CIPR  “Working with The Talent Keepers was an easy process from day one. After providing a comprehensive selection of prospective solutions to tackle the challenge, a clear structure in planning out the process of creating the guides was delivered, with the team always supplying their work before the deadline. Jessica’s understanding of the issue led to the additional production of the publicly available guide for line managers, doing this was important in addressing a knowledge gap and has proven to be popular (the third most downloaded PDF in the last quarter of 2014). Since the production of the guides, we have seen regular stream of downloads and positive feedback on social media. Regular comments from members focus on “the essential nature” and “informative but not restrictive language” of each piece of guidance, always crediting the confidence that they inspire. This is testament to the quality of the final product. Finally, Jessica’s infectious enthusiasm for the issue, alongside her energy and genuine drive to positively effect change make her stand out one of the most inspirational people I have worked with. Having established an incredibly useful working relationship with Jessica, I look forward to working closely with the Talent Keeper Specialists over the coming years as we continue our work on equal pay and gender balance.”

Andy Ross, Public Relations & Policy Manager, Chartered Institute of Public Relations   ITV  The Comeback workshops have been a fantastic opportunity to get mat returners and their line managers together to ease the transition back to work. They are helping managers and returner to communicate effectively, ensuring that the returner is more confident when they return making this process much smoother. This is the first time we have run anything like this before and the feedback has been amazing, from both returners and line managers. Line managers are able to speak to others experiencing the same situation and understand how to support their returner in a way that works for both them and the individual.”

Kirsty Duncan, L&D manager, ITV   BlackRock “The most significant gains from me from coaching have been the confidence boost of reflecting on achievements prior to maternity leave; practical methods for better managing my time and talking through personal challenges that have impacted my ability to be effective at work.”



Louise, BlackRock.   Oxfam “The coaching sessions helped me step back and think what I *really” want. It helped me crystalise my thinking. I am more confident as a result of the sessions. Invaluable. I really appreciated the structured approach of the sessions and preparation for them – the prep sheets helped focus the mind. Jessica has an incredibly warm approach, I very quickly felt at ease. She knew exactly when to listen, when to ask the right insightful question and when to make suggestions. I really appreciated the combination of step back/space with concrete suggestions and sharing experience of other coachees where it helped me.”


Angelique.   PayPal “Coaching for me hasn’t been about my transition to work post maternity. It’s been about actively supporting my purpose and passion to take the necessary steps to get what I want. I really believe everyone could benefit especially for any ‘flight risks’ (great people we wish to retain that may be at risk of leaving the business). This is a fantastic resource to have available to the business.”


Viv.   HSBC “Something shifted after our conversation and I feel really comfortable about going back to work. I’m the main bread winner and I’ve got to be comfortable about that but two months ago I was in doubt. It felt really hard. The fact that I’d talked to you before having that conversation with (my boss) made a di erence. I’m clear now that if I’m going to leave my baby for 10 hours a day I want to be promoted. I’m going to go for it, I’m clear about what I want.”


Katherine.   Twinings “It was fantastic. Coaching boosted my confidence following my return to work from maternity leave and I felt more in control as a result. Just having someone outside of the organisation to talk to in a confidential manner was helpful and have never felt judged. I feel I have explored challenges in a new way that I wouldn’t have done without the coaching experience. Jessica listened very closely to what I was saying, ensured she understood and always asked questions that prompted further thinking. I built trust very quickly due to her approach.” Jo.

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