I am a Management Consultant at Accenture. I joined Accenture in 2021 after graduating from university and having completed two internships with the firm. I sustained numerous lifechanging injuries during my third year at university, including a severe traumatic brain injury. I completed my degree on a part time basis and took up an offer of employment with Accenture and I’ve been working with Accenture since.
It’s been two and a half years since I joined Accenture as a graduate (and nearly ten years since my first internship). Joining as a graduate was delayed by both my injuries and the chaos of 2020, so when I finally started in 2021, everything was done virtually. After induction training, I joined my first project as an Analyst. During my time as an analyst, I changed projects and clients to gain a breadth of experience. I have certainly learnt a huge amount about myself on these various projects, learnt new skills and built a strong network. This also gave me the experience to know what I wanted my specialism to be.
When I was promoted to consultant, I joined the Talent and & Organisation (T&O) practice, and I am striving to raise the profile of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the work I do. I was first connected with MyPlus Students’ Club in my final year of university when a blog I wrote about completing my degree after sustaining an invisible disability. I have since attended a MyPlus event for students with disabilities applying to graduate positions and it was brilliant to see and hear from so many individuals who displayed the incredible strengths honed by individuals with disabilities.
What are the key employability skills to have?
Drive and willingness to learn. Whether you have a great amount of experience in a specific subject area, or very little, you can always learn from others and share expertise.
Effective communication (whatever form that might take). Working as part of a team means that you need to be able to communicate the progress you are making in your area to avoid duplicate effort or rework.
Self Management. You are the person who knows yourself the best, if you can manage your energy, time, strengths and weaknesses you are unstoppable!
What unique skills and strengths has your disability given you which have been an asset in the workplace?
Resilience: With my disability, I regularly need to manage my fatigue levels and be willing / able to inform management of my coping methods. When my coping method are understood and enabled, I am resilient to changes and agile ways of working which otherwise would make it difficult to achieve my best work.
Teamwork: Since my injuries and disability, I have become hyperaware of my strengths and weaknesses. This means that I work very well as part of a team where I can offer my expertise and learn from others around me. Supporting colleagues is something I value greatly, and I do everything I can to be an inclusive, considerate and enabling member of my team.
Problem Solving: When I hear/read a problem, my brain processes the information differently to how it used to before I sustained my disability. Since I process information differently, I sometimes arrive at unique solutions.
What advice would you give to disabled students applying for graduate positions or going through the recruitment process?
During my time at Accenture, I have had the pleasure of collaborating with the charity Scope. In this work I was made aware of the Social Model of disability (there is a fantastic video, by Scope, explaining the social model on youtube!) and this way of viewing the world was so empowering. The Social Model stated that a person is only disabled by their environment, not by their condition. A wheelchair user who has access to a ramp, has the exact same access as a non-wheelchair user. Your strengths are your strengths and any ‘deficit areas’ (I hate that term so much) are a lateral thinking puzzle to be solved. Once you have found what works for you, whether that be working from home x days a week or requesting assistive hardware/ software to be able to be at your best, nothing can stop you!
I understand that, at times, you might feel disadvantaged by the simple act of disclosing your disability and unfortunately the world we live in today can contribute to feeling disadvantaged. But you are your own strongest advocate, how you work might be different to others… but if the outcome is the same, who’s to say that your way isn’t better or more efficient? Be confident about your strengths, no one is better at being you than you.