How did you get started in your career and what drew you to Enterprise?
I am an undergraduate student from Plymouth University and have just started a twelve-month placement at Enterprise. I was attracted to Enterprise because firstly, I am a bit of a ‘petrol head’ so love cars, but I also wanted a challenge. I had a look at the recruitment website for Enterprise and this internship looked completely up my street; Enterprise showed great opportunities for career start ups and this was what I was looking for. The way I get around my stammer is that I put myself into hard situations, like a sink or swim scenario. I thought that having to speak to a lot of people in my role would help me improve my speech, confidence and working in a business environment.
How do you manage your disability at work?
The first issue I had was on the phone to people as I find that this can make my stammer worse. However, it was quite nice to be thrown in at the deep end as I soon found specific ways that I could answer that would be the easiest way for me to get around my stammer. I managed to figure this out in a few weeks at the Newport branch, as it was extremely fast paced, which enabled me to quickly get to grips with everything. My Branch Manager in Newport was a big part of my learning process at the start of Enterprise and provided the support needed to develop my skills. As well as this, I have tactics that I personally use with my speech. The main one I use is that I put on a very confident persona, which is kind of like acting for me. The persona is still me but is more of an extroverted, outgoing version of myself, which seems to help my stammer a lot as it helps me interact with customers as I become more talkative. In the sales environment, my stammer completely goes due to this, which works well for me. This also helps because then I am not blurting out tonnes of words, meaning I can really tailor each conversation as I have longer to think about what I am saying. This strategy has given me high results and helped me at work.
Has Enterprise helped you reach your potential in the workplace?
With me personally, I don’t usually mention I have a stammer unless it comes up. For example, if I have been speaking to someone for a long time, I usually mention it to make them feel a bit more comfortable. In certain situations, I have noticed that when I stammer a lot, people don’t know whether to stop the conversation, so mentioning something about my stammer provides some clarity with the people I work with. Saying this, when I started at Enterprise, my colleagues were awesome and really helpful. They left me to learn things on my own and in my own time, which allowed me to learn quite easily and I think this was reflected in my sales. At the beginning of the placement, I was reaching all of my targets and I think that’s a knock-on effect of the stammer and the way I work around it.
How would you describe the culture at Enterprise?
The culture at Enterprise is really friendly. Everyone at the branch is really understanding about my stammer. At the assessment day, I was reassured that the fluency of my speech would not affect my scores. Everyone was so understanding and patient, which is something I really liked.
What I have noticed is that stress can make it a little worse. At university, my speech would get worse when I was stressed with deadlines. However, stress can be easily dealt with due to the support system here at Enterprise, so you are reassured that you are not dealing with stress on your own as there are people to help you.
What advice would you give students with a similar disability who wants to pursue a career in business?
I have had my stammer since the age of one, and what I have realised is that the only thing that used to hold me back from doing things was myself, because I thought I couldn’t. Your stammer, regardless of the severity of it, doesn’t change you. Occasionally, it can inhibit you from doing things but there isn’t anything that you can’t physically do, it just might take a little more time. Personally, around three years ago, I wouldn’t speak to anyone new, but once I got over that hurdle, I began to realise that my stammer is my stammer, it will be there constantly and over time it would get better. I would be completely different without my stammer; I wouldn’t be the person who thought about everything they said. Therefore, my advice to others would be that you wouldn’t be you without your stammer so own it! Otherwise, it will play on your mind and stop you from reaching your full potential, which is what everyone should strive for.