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 am a mother of 2 children aged 12 and 6 which can be a handful so I don’t have too much time for hobbies. My daughter plays netball and my son plays football 5 times a week so I guess my hobby is supporting them. I am a qualified gymnastics coach but have recently stepped down as my daughter has now stopped competing.
What was the most difficult interview question you have been asked and how did you answer?
I have been at Fidelity for 10 years now so I can’t remember my interview much but I do remember the best advice I was given was to take a breath before answering each question.
Were you open about your disability during the application process? What support was provided to you?
Although I had joint pain at the time I didn’t have anything officially diagnosed so it wasn’t even really on my radar to mention my struggles.
What led you to this role? Why did you choose to join this organisation?
I started Fidelity in the call centre and was referred by a friend. I didn’t stay in the role long before my current role came up and I just knew that is what I wanted to do.
Tell us a bit about the type of work you’re doing at the moment; what are your day-to-day tasks?
I am now in the Sales Support team. There are 3 of us in the team supporting 17 sales people. It can be intense at times but being organised and good at communicating is key. We handle a mailbox which essentially bridges the gap between the sales team and all other internal teams. We receive fund queries, meeting requests, data requests and many more enquiries and work to complete these tasks efficiently and accurately.
How do you manage your disability at work?
I was finally diagnosed in 2018 with Psoriatic Arthritis which is an autoimmune condition. I have suffered with numerous symptoms since being a teen and was told when I was 18 that I had chronic juvenile arthritis but nothing was ever done and I just continued to take pain killers.
In 2018, the pains got so bad I used my private healthcare (provided by Fidelity) and was referred to a rheumatologist. After an ultrasound scan on my hands and feet and a physical examination he diagnosed me with PsA and we started on immunosuppressant medication. Since then I have been on 5 different medications including injections I had to administer myself. It’s a long road to find the correct medication and one that works for a while can then suddenly stop working. The first medication they actually tried gave me horrendous side effects which seriously affected my mental health. I was bed bound for around 6 weeks and signed off work. Luckily that is the only time it has affected my job but Fidelity are so supportive, there was never any pressure to return too soon and I was never made to feel guilty for taking the time I needed.
I have had occupational health assess my work desk and was given an orthopaedic chair and a desk that I could raise (sitting for too long can cause substantial pain for me – equally standing too long can also cause pain so it’s all about the balance). When March 2020 came and we were all sent to work from home, my orthopaedic chair was sent to my house to ensure I had support whilst continuing to work. My condition is quite under control at present and I have stayed working from home with the support of my manager and have started to visit the office once a fortnight. Working from home is the best option for me. Although it can get a bit boring, not having to travel is great as part of my condition (and possibly the worst part) is extreme fatigue and driving can really affect that.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
The people. I enjoy the organising side of things. Arranging meetings, client events etc.
What aspect of the job have you found most difficult to manage? Is this affected by your disability?
Travelling. If I needed to go to the London office it would cause huge anxiety. I can’t travel on busy trains as I would need a seat and I would be anxious for days ahead thinking about how I would get to London. Now, this has changed. I am not expected to go into London and always given the option, if I feel like I can do it then I will but I haven’t been since pre March 2020.
What is your organisation’s approach to disability; how has your employer helped you to do well at your workplace?
Fidelity is incredible. I honestly couldn’t fault them in their approach to disability. I actually think the majority of my team don’t even know I am registered disabled as it doesn’t affect my work and therefore doesn’t affect them and this is due to the support I have had. I think that now if I had to drive into the office 5 days a week I would really struggle and it would result in sick days which I really hate doing if I can help it.
What has been your proudest achievement since starting work?
Just to be able to get up, show up and never give up each and every day.
What advice would you give a student with a similar disability, who wants to pursue a career in the field you work in?
Know your worth! Your disability does not define you. Remember your own personal strengths and make sure a potential employer knows those too. Be open and honest.