I have now been at UBS 34 years. I came straight out of college and worked my way through various departments in the organisation to where I am today.
At 23 I went down with pneumonia and they established “something was wrong”. I had never been so ill in my life which was a huge shock for someone who was physically fit and actively playing rugby (scrum half). Over the next two years, and with extensive support from my managers, the company doctors referred me to medical experts who diagnosed a rare condition called IGA nephropathy. I couldn’t play any sport due to the impact of the condition and was under constant review by a specialist.
When I was pregnant with my son in 1997 I was on special watch with additional check ups due to the condition and the unknown effect it would have on the pregnancy. Luckily I got to 7 months and had a healthy baby boy (just a little underweight which you would not believe today if you saw him). The impact for me was a little different but after two months mentally I wanted to get back to work and routine. With the help of my managers UBS adapted my work to give me a flexible working arrangement that meant I could work from home or in the office.
By the end of 2000 my health deteriorated rapidly and my managers were there to support. They were adapting my working day and were aware of the impact on me (and knew I was stubborn and needed to work to help me). They never pressurised me but were always supportive and adapted my work to be more project orientated but always making me feel an included and valuable member of the team who could contribute to the team goals. This was important to me as I was suffering from fatigue, severe weight loss, sickness and just didn’t know what would happen next with my health.
Unfortunately in January 2001 I had complete renal shut down and collapsed on the way to work. I was taken into hospital immediately. Eventually they started me on haemodialysis followed by CAPD (Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis) four times a day. Champing at the bit to get back to work and normality my managers (and UBS as a whole) were so supportive of this new phase in my life and helped by arranging for dialysis equipment and medication to be delivered, managed and stored in the first aid room where I conducted dialysis twice a day during office hours. Luckily this was only until September of that year when I was lucky enough to benefit from a transplant and, as affectionately known to all, “Kevin the Kidney” changed my life for the better!
From the medical investigations at the start UBS was there for me. Not only has it been my managers but also my work colleagues and internal and external business contacts who reached out with moral support and thoughtful messages. When you have a chronic condition that people can’t see it is difficult for some to understand why you still have to go for check-ups or carry cards to flag the amount of anti-rejection medication you take.
I am not cured as the condition is always there and could come back and lead to kidney failure again I am monitored constantly by the Royal London Hospital and can just call up the hospital if I have an issue (they are my NHS family).
My approach and personal goal: live life, love, learn and laugh all the way! Today I feel fitter than when I was 25. As a member of the London & Barts team in the British Transplant Games, current holder of the Trophy and Gold Medal in Golf and a Silver in Swimming (butterfly would you believe), I am now aiming to get into the World Transplant Team for the 2023 Games in Australia.
It is sometimes hard and very emotional sharing a life experience that nobody can see. As co-chair of the UBS Ability Awareness network for many years I know the importance of supporting UBS employees and any potential recruits in their career. As a member of the Valuable 500, our firm is an employer who cares and appreciates that diversity comes in many forms and everyone has the ability to contribute in a positive way – it just sometimes needs a bit of help, open communication and lateral thinking.