How did you get started in your career and what drew you to the organisations you have worked for?
I studied Chemistry in Mexico and then in the USA for my PhD, originally looking to become a University Professor back in Mexico. During my time in the USA I had an opportunity to experience very rich collaboration programs between universities and companies, such as P&G. I had an interview on campus in 1998 and long story short, was then hired to start as a laundry detergents formulator in the P&G technical centre in Mexico City. Upon the closure of the centre in Mexico City I was relocated to the UK, and it is here I remain so far.
In my previous role as a Laundry detergents formulator and my current one in Fine Fragrances, I have always had a preference for projects that bring projects closer to the market in very upstream discovery assignments (it’s a good thing that I didn’t become a professor!). I enjoy working as part of a team, putting together a new product or troubleshooting an existing one, and I particularly enjoy having a number of different projects running at any given time. No week is the same as the previous one and there is always variety. My work lets me have an impact on our products and also on the continuing learning and self-improvement of individuals and teams.
How do you manage your disability at work?
At P&G we don’t focus on whether someone has a particular degree or background. People let you show what you can contribute to a project or interest shared and later on they will seek you again for the skills demonstrated and the tangible help you can offer them – it doesn’t matter if you have regular arms or the extra special ones I have. Therefore the only point to manage is new interactions. When I first meet someone because of my very obvious disability I can feel they see the need to help me in everything, so in a gentle way, I simply tell them not to worry and that I will let them know if I actually need help. Soon enough they see I can do most things and begin to be at ease around me until sometimes they completely forget the disability.
How has your employer helped you to do well at your workplace?
I have access to accessories I need for my computer, but most importantly no special considerations. I am presented with challenges and opportunities the same as everyone else and I am assessed with the same rigour as everyone else. No discrimination.
How would you describe the diversity culture at your organisation?
Again, I think we recognise that people are different as individuals and also as part of a cultural group (ethnic, professional, social, etc.) and we respect those differences. However, at the end of the day, the most important thing are skills, not where you come from or where/what you did at university.
What advice or top tips would you offer?
Disabled or not, we are all human and we don’t like uncertainty. Tell people upfront what you need from them and from day one start showing everything you have to offer.