My name is Isaac Harbord, I am a 2017 Economics, Finance & International Business graduate from Oxford Brookes University.
At the beginning of March, I received my first full-time job offer in Public Sector Auditing with Grant Thornton since graduating from university. Over the past 7-months, I have submitted over a hundred applications, sent thousands of emails, had hundreds of hours of phone calls and attended a multitude of networking events in London and New York.
When I was 18-months old I contracted meningitis which left me hearing impaired; I have no hearing in my left ear and use a hearing aid with the partial hearing in my right ear.
MyPlus Students’ Club – Win A Day Experience
I spent the morning at J.P. Morgan Investment Bank in Canary Wharf where I met face to face, and through video calls, with both senior and junior persons in the Investment Banking & Asset Management departments. I heard about their journey in banking, what they enjoyed, what they disliked and what they found challenging in their positions. It was also a fantastic opportunity to hear firsthand about the culture of J.P. Morgan and how I can prepare myself for an application. Additionally, by speaking with recruiters in HR I gleaned unique insights for future applications with J.P. Morgan. Moreover, not to be neglected, is the importance of networking and the contacts I have now made as a result. Since this day I’ve been able to use contacts when making an application.
Before my Win A Day experience I was directly emailed by HR asking for details about how they could best make adjustments for my disability. This was done in a very open and relaxed fashion. On the day, everything I needed was addressed which made me feel very comfortable.
My biggest challenge was being unable to hear the conversation on the live video interview. And so, J.P. Morgan organised, as they often do, a touch-typer for me who typed the whole conversation as it was spoken with great speed onto a monitor next to me. In turn, I essentially had subtitles for the whole video call. At the end of the call, I was sent a manuscript of the conversation which allowed me to check everything we talked about – this was really helpful for me and made me a lot more comfortable as I was able to refer to the text when I couldn’t hear what was said.
My disability enabled me to schedule a face-to-face follow-up meeting with another J.P. Morgan associate in the department I’m interested in applying for as I favour in-person conversation because of my hearing impairment. In this case, my disability played to my advantage as it allowed me to have a more valuable face-to-face meeting and not just a phone call. Also, because of my disability, I get access to support from the diversity/disability inclusion department which is invaluable for an application or when working.
J.P.Morgan did an exceptional job of ensuring my disability was catered for at every level and has left me confident in applying for any role with them. I believe I am on a more level playing field because of this experience.
What personal strength have you developed as a result of your disability/long-term health condition?
From a young age, my hearing impairment significantly impacted my ability to develop basic skills or access learning and education. Specialist audiologists and teachers of the deaf said I would face many education roadblocks I’d be unlikely to overcome. However, I used this to fuel me in persevering. I worked exceptionally hard through my GCSEs and A-Level breaking barriers I was told were highly improbable. I graduated as Valedictorian from Oxford Brookes University with First Class Honours (78.2%) in Economics. I was top of my year, an achievement of which I am very proud. I achieved this because of perseverance. By making perseverance a discipline, and now a part of my character, I have the ability to adapt and thrive when faced with any problem, in any environment.
What are your plans for the future?
While I soon start a job in the Public Sector Auditing, in the long run, I am looking to break into the investment banking field (Equity Capital Markets or Mergers & Acquisitions). Working in auditing is not my primary goal, however, it is an opportunity to develop and build new skills and gain hands-on experience in the finance industry. It’s important to think about how can you build yourself into an asset that adds value to a company, from that place I will find myself in a position I love.
Do you have any advice you would like to pass on that may be useful to current students and undergraduates?
Do not neglect the opportunity to overcome challenges that at first glance appear impossible. Using creative thinking and sheer determination to find a path around a problem in light of adversity will serve you in life, for life.
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