What led you to this role? Why did you choose to join this organisation?
I wanted to specialise in the financial regulation area as it is intellectually challenging, continuously evolving and changing. It further requires a lot of thinking, analysing and research, exactly what I enjoy!
I decided to join Clifford Chance as it specialises in the areas that I am most interested in, namely finance, capital markets and litigation.
While I was applying to Clifford Chance in November 2013, the firm was granted the Excellent Award by the Law Society due to its diversity policy. I became certain that Clifford Chance is a firm at which I can climb up my career ladder regardless of my visual impairment.
I am a native Arabic speaker and a qualified Iraqi lawyer. I thought my background would enable me to contribute to the firm’s success in the Middle East. I have in fact been assisting some of our offices in the region and have also been able to build up a good relationship with clients in the Middle East.
Were you open about your disability during the application process? What support was provided to you?
Yes, I disclosed my visual impairment at an early stage of the application process to enable the HR team to make the necessary adjustments. The Clifford Chance HR team provided me with the Watson Glaser and verbal reasoning tests in an accessible format with my screen reader. I was also given extra time to complete them. The materials for the assessment centre were given to me in an electronic format, so I could read them on my laptop.
How do you manage your disability at work?
I have adopted a confident approach. I make sure that I ask for the materials to be provided in an accessible format. I welcome any questions or request for explanation and never get offended if I get asked about my visual impairment or my working style. It is us who should familiarise others with our needs rather than waiting for them to learn.
What is your organisation’s approach to disability; how has your employer helped you to do well in your workplace?
Everyone at Clifford Chance has been very supportive. Since the commencement of my training contract on 2 February 2015, I have been provided with all the reasonable adjustments that I need to complete my work effectively (assistive software, mobility training, documents in an accessible format, etc).
We have recently set up a group for disabled people. The group aims to attract more disabled employees and to raise awareness between staff about others’ needs.
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?
As a result of the encouragement of some partners in my department, I learned to be open about my visual impairment, especially if some adjustments needed to be made. This has helped me to complete tasks efficiently and effectively. Staying silent will never help, as people are not mind readers!
What advice would you give a student with a similar disability, who wants to pursue a career in the field you work in?
Never give in. It is inevitable that you will come across discouraging people; consider them as a hurdle to overcome and do not allow them to put you off. Be open about your disability, and always welcome questions from others about how you work or how you manage your everyday life. The fact that they ask you means that they are interested in you, otherwise, they would never have approached you or cared to speak to you. Be optimistic, always look forward to a brighter future as optimism fuels success!
If Fadeia has been able to do it, why would you not?!