How many applications did you submit for a graduate job? How many interviews did you attend?
I made about 10 applications and had interviews with 3 potential employers (but this was long ago in the 1980s).
What was the most difficult interview question you have been asked and how did you answer?
“Where do you want to be in five year’s time?” I said that I wanted to have had a promotion by then.
Were you open about your disability during the application process? What support was provided to you?
My disability (very basically, heart problems) was only diagnosed many years after graduating, so before then I didn’t know about it myself! Since then, no, I was not open. The support that I was given was that I had a discussion with Occupational Health, which recommended ‘reasonable adjustments’ which both KPMG and I agreed to. There is also a disability network in KPMG – I am a member of this, and can get advice and support from it.
Tell us a bit about the type of work you’re doing at the moment; what are your day-to-day tasks?
I am an actuarial consultant (an actuary combines knowledge of mathematics, statistics and finance and typically applies these skills in the financial services sector). I give advice to insurers and assist colleagues in auditing insurers.
How do you manage your disability at work?
I continue to work from home, even though the Covid pandemic restrictions have been lifted in the UK. I also limit my working hours. This reduces my stress levels (which is harmful to my disability) and helps me deal with tiredness (an effect of my disability).
What do you enjoy most about your work?
The intellectual challenges of advising clients and being involved in recruiting, training and managing colleagues.
What was it about your job/organisation that surprised you when you first started?
That it is progressive and supportive towards disabled people.
What aspect of the job have you found most difficult to manage? Is this affected by your disability?
At first, I did not disclose my disability, and found myself (at times) expected to work long hours when I was medically unable to do so. Therefore, yes, it was affected by my disability.
What is your organisation’s approach to disability; how has your employer helped you to do well at your workplace?
As well as being supportive, my employer has courses for the managers of staff on how to better understand disabilities in the team and to be well informed on related legal responsibilities.
What has been your proudest achievement since starting work?
Qualifying as an actuary, which involves passing many notoriously difficult exams.
What do you wish you knew when you were at university?
Medically speaking, it would have been nice to have known back then that I had heart problems, as monitoring and lifestyle change could have started back then. However, the worry for me at that age would have been enormous.
What advice would you give a student with a similar disability, who wants to pursue a career in the field you work in?
You need an understanding, sympathetic employer. The insurance industry has had a well-deserved reputation for the opposite – but some are far better than that.