Lindsay Spillsbury works as a Brand & Attraction Specialist within the HR Resourcing team at National Grid. Before joining the organisation, she studied Graphic Design at Coventry University. Here, Lindsay tells us how she got into a career in branding and describes her experience working with Asperger’s Syndrome and anxiety.
You applied for a job through the Leonard Cheshire’s Change 100 Internship Programme – what was your experience of the application process like?
I attended an assessment centre for the Change 100 Programme. I think the most difficult part was when I was asked about a time when I was challenged with a problem and how I worked around it. I find interviews can put you on the spot, so I had to stop and think before I answered the question. It was nice to know I didn’t need to rush my answers, so I took the time to answer as best as I could.
Were you open about your disability during the application process? What support was provided to you?
It was recommended to state my disability in the application. I was asked to include any reasonable adjustments that would be needed for the role. This allowed me to express how my disability affects me.
What led you to this role?
While waiting to be matched for a position after being successful through the assessment process, I was informed about a ‘social media specialist’ role within National Grid’s recruitment team by one of the Change 100 staff. I hadn’t done much social media before this, but I accepted the challenge. I knew that National Grid is a big and reputable company, so I was keen to sign up.
Tell us a bit about the type of work you’re doing at the moment; what are your day-to-day tasks?
My daily tasks consist of:
Managing all of the careers social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin
Setting up job adverts both print and online for magazines or website job boards
Creating campaign materials such as leaflets, flyers, stands, business cards and posters for events and other promotional purposes
Creating Digital corporate documents like briefing pack PDF’s or on-boarding documents
Support branding decisions for campaigns for careers website and recruitment advertising
Control of the CMS for the careers website to change any requested content
Admin for brand team finances and monitoring card transactions
How do you manage your disability at work?
I have regular one-to-ones with my line manager to discuss any issues or worries; this helps to relieve any anxiety I have. I like to structure my days with prioritising daily tasks that come in. I’ve also been given the flexibility to work from home when I need to.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
It’s a very relaxed environment, everyone is welcoming and supportive. We have a ‘lunch club’ where my colleagues and I have lunch together, on-site or out for sushi!
What about the organisation surprised you when you first started?
At first, I wasn’t sure if the role would be exciting considering it’s a corporate environment. However, there’s always something new happening each day with lots of engaging communities or cultural celebrations, it makes you want to come to work every day. I was also surprised about the acceptance of disabilities at National Grid. Achievements are celebrated regularly.
What aspect of the job have you found most difficult to manage? Is this affected by your disability?
Having Asperger’s Syndrome and anxiety has been difficult to handle at times. I struggle with uncertainty or rapid change in environments — as it can leave me feeling stressed and very anxious. I’ve found it easier to cope despite having to adapt to new situations, however, it’s been a baby step approach with having the extra support available.
What is your organisation’s approach to disability; how has your employer helped you to do well at your workplace?
The company offers a lot of support for those with disabilities and National Grid is keen on inclusion and diversity. Knowing that your employer has an understanding of your disability made me feel a lot better about developing and stepping out of my comfort zone.
What has been your proudest achievement since starting work?
In the space of a year or so, I’ve gained a lot of confidence and I’m learning something new every day! Years ago, I believed I wouldn’t ever work; because I thought I wouldn’t be able to cope with having anxiety and dealing with frequent changes. So I’ve managed to prove others and myself wrong.
Tell us about a personal strength or a valuable plus which you have developed, as a result of your disability. How has it helped you in your career?
I’ve noticed that I’ve got a really good work ethic and my ability to work hard is a useful trait to have in the workplace. During my time at National Grid, I feel valued and play an important role within the recruitment team.
What do you wish you knew when you were at university?
I wish I knew sooner that having a disability isn’t a bad thing to have. I wasn’t able to talk about my disability to employers as I struggled to understand it. Because I felt that way, it held me back from a lot of job opportunities, as I made my disability out to be a negative issue. Now I embrace who I am and spread awareness whenever I can.
What advice would you give a student with a similar disability, who wants to pursue a career in the field you work in?
If you feel you fit into a certain business area and want to pursue it, just go for it! If you have anxiety, don’t let it hold you back, embrace change and learn from it.