At MyPlus Students' Club, we're proud to recognise disability-confident leaders in the industry. Today, Mark Robins, Business & Technology Integration Senior Analyst at Accenture Technology, tells us about his experience managing epilepsy at work and his role as a ‘Mental Health Ally’ at Accenture.
Name: Mark Robins
Division and job title: Accenture Technology – Business & Technology Integration Senior Analyst
Degree: Modern Languages (French and Russian)
Hobbies: Rugby, football, golf, films/TV
How many applications did you submit for a graduate job? How many interviews did you attend?
One application, then two interviews (phone and assessment day)
Were you open about your disability during the application process? What support was provided to you?
Yes – there was an option to list any relevant medical conditions during the application process. Once I was offered the job, Accenture arranged an Occupational Health Assessment for me. This allowed them to get guidance from a doctor on what adjustments should be made to help me perform at my best. My epilepsy and the associated medication causes side effects so I made sure these were made clear to both the doctor and the company.
What led you to this role? Why did you choose to join Accenture?
Friends I knew at Accenture recommended the company to me, as they found their work stimulating and provided many opportunities to further their personal developments. I knew I wanted to apply after I looked on the Accenture website which lists the type of work employees are involved with, as well as the Health & Wellbeing aspects of the company.
How do you manage your disability at work?
The most important thing to do is ensure you take regular breaks and eat/drink sufficiently!
Another action that you should take is to have regular catch ups with your manager so you can track your performance. Many disabilities aren’t visible – for instance, my epilepsy medication has a lot of mental side effects - so your manager can’t help you if you do not let them know the reasons you are having difficulties. Don’t be afraid of speaking to them about your limitations, it’s their responsibility to ‘manage’ their team help them where required. Accenture’s senior staff are brilliant at this. The pressure of being the perfect employee, coupled with the idea that starting work early and working late into the night is good for your career, is without doubt a catalyst for burnout.
What is Accenture’s approach to disability; how has your employer helped you to do well at your workplace?
Accenture has a fantastic approach to Mental Health issues and has many ways to support you. I am involved in many areas – I am a ‘Mental Health Ally’ and my role is to promote Mental Health awareness and offer guidance for those suffering with Mental Health issues. I also organise presentations on the effects of Mental Health and help with other initiatives that are happening in the Accenture community. There’s also a confidential counselling service if you feel you’d rather talk anonymously. From my experience, no other company offers the same level of help and support as Accenture does.
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?
The most significant development I’ve noticed in myself is the confidence to talk about my disability. This was a massive step for me and in turn significantly impacted my project work, as I became more comfortable interacting with Accenture management and clients.
What advice would you give a student with a similar disability, who wants to pursue a career in the field you work in?
Don’t think that you’ll be at a disadvantage when applying for jobs if you have a disability. You have the same chance as everyone else in the application process. If you show enthusiasm for the role and the employer recognises that you have the potential to excel in the company, then they’ll hire you. It’s as simple as that! Companies are very flexible today in dealing with how people work – for instance, people often work from home once a week. Your health (both physical and mental) is the most important thing about you so don’t be afraid to put those needs first – after all, you won’t be performing at your best if your working environment isn’t set up to suit your requirements.