I am Madeleine Sandham, I am currently on an apprenticeship scheme as an account handler at WTW. Prior to this I was a student nurse at the University of Suffolk.
I work between the underwriters and the client. I work with both sides to place insurance for the client. The skills I use for this role are communication, professionalism, problem solving and working independently. I am working towards my Diploma Chartered Insurance Institute qualification. I really like the team I am in, they are all supportive and friendly and we all come into the office a couple times a week.
Since joining WTW I have learnt so much. Not only have I learnt a new job role, but I have also learnt that I can have a job role which accommodates my disability. I have learnt that I am capable of having a career alongside an illness.
I am part of the WTW inclusion and diversity team. We have regular calls and work towards making positive changes within WTW. I have made a close friend who shares an illness with me, being a part of this group has resulted in meeting people who are similar to myself.
I have felt very supported since starting WTW. When I told my manager about my disability, workplace adjustments were put into place very quickly. I had an occupation health assessment to discuss and assess what adjustments I need at work/ at home. I have a special mouse which helps with the arthritis in my hands. I also got a chair which helps with my posture and an adjustable desk. I also have regular breaks to allow my body to stretch. When I am in the office, my team will try their best to save me an up/down desk. These desks allow me to adjust the desk to what feels comfortable throughout the day. Overall, at WTW, I feel very supported, having a disability can make you feel like a burden, but I don’t feel like that at all at WTW.
The advice I would give to students and graduates going through the recruitment process is:
To take the leap and go for it! When I was first diagnosed, I didn’t think that I could ever have a career, as I needed adjustments. Working for a company which promotes the hybrid working style allows me to have a career. When I am feeling unwell, I can work from home and don’t have the pressure from my manager to come in.
Research the team/company you are wanting to work for and find out about their working styles and how they are an inclusive company. If a company promotes their inclusiveness and has a flexible working style, then it will most probably accommodate people like me who need the flexibility.
Don’t be ashamed or afraid to declare your disability/illness/condition. It’s part of you and you should be supported. It also shouldn’t stop you achieving your full potential and having a successful career.