I’m Andreas Korovessis, or Andy most of the time! I’m a proud Geordie, living right on the North East coastline and a proud Athenian on my fathers’ side. I spent my earlier years in the catering industry as a Michelin-rated head chef and Restaurateur and later as a catering manager in some of the most recognisable sites in Newcastle.
However, in my mid-30s, I started encountering a range of unknown health issues and subsequently was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and bone disease. My career path and life suddenly became a lot less simple! At the start of the Covid pandemic, I decided to re-evaluate my future and enrolled on an online accountancy course. To my surprise, I’ve passed three months ahead of schedule with a distinction.
Spurred on by this I started looking into finance roles. As I didn’t have experience in any other industry but catering at the time, I was nervous. I nonetheless applied for a Finance Operations Assistant role at Norton Rose Fulbright’s Newcastle Office.
From the point of email confirmation of an interview, I was able to keep in touch with the recruitment team, who put me at ease with any concerns I had. The interview was professional, and I was open about my disability, which the interviewing manager made clear, would not be a consideration as to my suitability for the role and that the People Experience team would support me with any extra needs, I may have due to my conditions. This was the first interview I’d ever encountered where nobody asked the origins of my name or how my disability affects me. The main focus was on my skills and attitude.
From the moment I joined the firm, I’ve had an astonishing level of support, from my line manager, team and the wider firm. People regularly check on my wellbeing, including medical professionals. I’ve been provided with specialist equipment and furniture to ensure my home office and office working situations are as well set up and comfortable as possible. The firm’s hybrid working arrangements mean I can still work when not able to make it into the office, during periods of reduced mobility or for other medical reasons. I’ve had upmost support from management.
Alongside the direct support I have received, the firm has a wide range of networks, which I have joined quite a few of, such as Shine, the disability network at Norton Rose Fulbright in the UK. Through this, I was able to volunteer for a Finance DE&I panel discussion and was given the role of panel lead, driving equality and diversity improvements where possible in our hiring process. All along, I’ve felt valued, seen and heard! The firm is constantly developing and really does listen to its employees on how to best change.
Suffering with chronic conditions and constant pain is never easy but has built a resilience and patience in me. It’s made me stop and think how lucky I am to have all the other positive aspects of my life, bringing those qualities into my workplace has allowed me to be a very productive and positive team member, with an eye for detail. I feel lucky every day to have manged to successfully made a complete career shift in my 40s. I’m now in a new role within my department and have been flourishing, learning and developing every day for over two years now.
My advice to anyone in a similar situation thinking about applying for any role, would be to be confident in applying and interviewing. Don’t undersell yourself or feel apologetic about your situation or any other needs you may have, be open about your disability to make sure you do get the support you require and make time to enjoy your achievements!