Tell us a bit about yourself outside of work – what do you like to do in your spare time? Do you have any hobbies/interests/sports – we’d love to know
I love being active, whether that is; walking my dog, riding my hand bike or mountain bike and when possible, I love to get away to the mountains and ski.
How many applications did you submit for a graduate job? How many interviews did you attend?
I only submitted one application on graduation, to join the British Army. It is a vigorous process to join as an officer, involving multiple interviews and two 3-day assessment centres.
What was the most difficult interview question you have been asked and how did you answer?
What are your weaknesses? On the face of it, it isn’t particularly difficult as everyone in life is weaker in some areas over others, however, a job interview isn’t the place to be openly discussing your weaknesses. Therefore, it is a challenging dance of turning a negative into a positive in a way that makes you stand out from the crowd and memorable whilst aligning with their wants and culture.
Were you open about your disability during the application process? What support was provided to you?
When I graduated, I didn’t have the physical disability that I now have, however I have always had dyslexia. In every role I have had or applied to, I have always declared my dyslexia and more recently, my physical disability.
What led you to this role? Why did you choose to join this organisation?
Since I was young, I’d always wanted to join the Army. I was particularly drawn to the challenge, both physically and mentally, the huge range of job roles and responsibility as well as the future job opportunities.
Tell us a bit about the type of work you’re doing at the moment; what are your day-to-day tasks?
My career in the military came to an end when I sustained an injury which led to a physical disability. I initially moved into the charity sector to support others who had sustained injuries. I now work for Michael Page, a large recruitment business, running a team to get more people with diverse backgrounds into the workplace.
This sees me speaking regularly with clients, managing a small team, and ensuring we provide what we promise. Networking is very important so I’m regularly speaking with different organisations ranging from small charities to large international companies, working towards our vision of getting more people from diverse backgrounds into the workplace.
How do you manage your disability at work?
Having a spinal cord injury, fatigue can be a problem a lot of people struggle with, so I’m always conscious to take breaks to manage my energy levels to make sure I don’t run myself down. In the workplace I don’t need any major adjustments if I can get to my desk step free and have a mug I can reach in the kitchen.
The one aspect of work I must give thought to regarding my disability is meeting clients… Is the meeting space accessible, is there a disabled toilet, is there accessible parking near by etc.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
It’s great to be part of an organisation, running a team that is working to bring positive change to a huge area of the population that don’t always get an equal opportunity in the workplace.
What was it about your job/organisation that surprised you when you first started?
I joined Michael Page from a small charity, so I was nervous starting at a large company. It was the culture and people that surprised me the most. It was so friendly and welcoming, which is something I thought would be lost moving to a huge company.
What aspect of the job have you found most difficult to manage? Is this affected by your disability?
Regarding my disability, it’s getting around London and public transport. The public transport network isn’t best set up for someone in a wheelchair. I can’t rely on the Tube when going to meetings as I don’t know how quickly I can get out of a station, it’s always a guessing game… how long will the queue for the lifts be?
What is your organisation’s approach to disability; how has your employer helped you to do well at your workplace?
I couldn’t want for anything more from PageGroup regarding my disability. The company are very forward-thinking regarding disability and want to try and provide everyone equal opportunity, even if that means giving greater support to some individuals.
Most of the time I will be okay working to an average schedule however every now and again, I’ll have one of those days where everything takes way longer than anticipated. I have a great relationship with my manager who gets it and gives me the flexibility to work around anything that arises from my disability. For me, it is important to have good lines of communication and understanding with your line manager.
What has been your proudest achievement since starting work?
I’m incredibly proud and humbled by everyone our team can support. I know first-hand how difficult it can be having a disability, being able to support others, making their journey easier makes me proud.
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?
Empathy. Having the ability to understand the feelings of another is incredibly valuable in all business relationships, whether that be running a team, speaking with your line manager, or working with external clients. Empathy is a hidden weapon which I have massively developed because of my disability.
What do you wish you knew when you were at university?
Don’t worry about what other people think of you. It’s your life so don’t live a life seeking others’ approval.
What advice would you give a student with a similar disability, who wants to pursue a career in the field you work in?
Go for it. It’s incredibly rewarding working to support others in an international business full of different opportunities. Reach out if you want a chat!