How did you get started in your career and what drew you to Enterprise?
I had just graduated from university with a philosophy and communications degree. Enterprise was recommended to me by a friend, so I applied and was successful. I started in rental in St Louis and was there for less than a year. I then moved to the world Head Quarters in St Louis on the help desk for 4 years.
An opportunity opened up as a Business Analyst in the IT department which was similar to my current role, of which my application was successful. I worked my way up in IT and moved to the UK 7 years ago; now I am the Assistant Vice President of IT for Europe!
How do you manage your disability at work?
My disorder is obstructive sleep apnea. Prior to treatment, I would snore heavily and stop breathing in my sleep every 10 minutes or so; meaning I was not getting into REM sleep and was never fully rested. I started feeling tired in the afternoon at work to the point where I would be close to falling asleep at the wheel on my way home. I also had restless leg syndrome and started sleepwalking. These symptoms kept getting progressively worse, so I took part in a sleep study where I was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea.
My disorder is managed through a CPAP machine which continuously keeps air flowing into my throat and lungs. This allows me to breathe properly when I sleep and, so I can have a good night’s sleep. It took around 6 months to a year to fully get used to the machine, which required patience and some trial and error. However, once I was well adjusted, I felt alert during the day and my symptoms such as restless leg syndrome went away. It was a miracle cure, I can now work productively throughout the whole day without feeling lethargic and tired.
Has Enterprise helped you reach your potential in the workplace?
Before I was diagnosed, I was not performing at my best as I was so tired in the afternoons. I disclosed my disorder to my manager as soon as I got diagnosed, and Enterprise was really helpful. My boss was understanding and recognised that it would take me some time to get used to. He asked what support I needed and offered me things like flexible hours. The only thing I asked for was to be in my own room when I travelled as opposed to sharing with a colleague and this was something Enterprise was able to do right away.
The support Enterprise has given me has made me feel more confident in sharing my story; I spoke at the International Day for Disabilities about my disorder. Two different men individually came up to me saying they had the same breathing problems as me before treatment. I advised them to go and get tested as I knew it would change their life and help them reach their full potentials.
How would you describe the culture at Enterprise?
The first two things that come to mind are inclusive and energetic; for me, this is what makes Enterprise unique compared to other companies. We make a strong effort to create an inclusive environment as we can, and we really are an energetic bunch!
Enterprise is also very welcoming. I moved over here from America 7 years ago. When I did so, the team and other managers couldn’t have been more helpful; there are millions of day to day differences that I didn’t know about e.g. in St. Louis we don’t have to pay for parking. People gave me advice about things both inside and outside of the office. I was blown away seeing all of this in action. Lastly, Enterprise continually gives people the opportunity to grow and develop; if you show interest in something you can succeed – my role is not related to my degree in the slightest.
What advice would you give a student with a similar disability, who wants to pursue a career in business?
People live with untreated disorders and work around them. People often don’t want to change their lives, therefore put off trying to solve their issues, I for one am guilty of this! The piece of advice I cannot recommend enough is to take that step and get seen by a doctor. You should not be worried about stigma, Enterprise are extremely inclusive and supportive once you disclose your disorder or disability. Getting treatment will change your life!