Were you open about your disability during the application process? What support was provided to you?
Yes – I made it clear that I suffered from mental health issues, specifically Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Generalised Anxiety, whilst completing the application and interview process. I was offered extra time in the aptitude and capability tests on my assessment day, which I was very pleased about. I wasn’t expecting to have this facilitated for me.
What led you to this role? Why did you choose to join this organisation?
The apprenticeship scheme I’m on, KPMG360, offers me the opportunity to rotate through the business into different departments, whilst studying towards professional accounting qualifications. In addition, the global brand of KPMG is incredibly strong, and their corporate values closely mirror my own personal ones.
How do you manage your disability at work?
Those who suffer from OCD and/or anxiety will understand that it’s an ongoing situation, which can fluctuate on an almost hourly basis. It’s important that I learn to recognise when I need help and support, and what I can do to help myself – but often this isn’t the easiest of asks. This is where KPMG’s support network comes in handy. All employees have access to a 24/7 helpline (which is extended to our family members and friends when needed) and the option to have therapy or counselling sessions. Over the past year I have made use of both of these services, and they have helped me to stay as on track as possible mentally, whilst maintaining my work commitments. KPMG also have an internal support group known as BeMindful, which hosts regular events and sessions to bring together employees to engage with, and discuss, mental health topics. Anyone can get involved with this, which helps to work on ridding the stigma which still strongly interrupts the chat and discussion on mental health.
What is your organisation’s approach to disability; how has your employer helped you to do well at your workplace?
As a firm who placed 2nd in the 2017 UK Social Mobility Index, KPMG are open and inclusive to disabled and disadvantaged people. The recruitment process, from my own experience, is a level playing field where a disabled person, be it mentally or physically, has just as much chance of gaining a position here than someone without disabilities.
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 main strength I feel I have developed is resilience. In the words of Winston Churchill ‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.’ Life isn’t always going to go to plan, and you have to adapt and change as much as you can to push through the difficulties you will face. Having to deal with a mental health issue has helped to teach me to pick myself back up and carry on. I have learned to adapt and work with my mental health in the workplace too, and I can safely say that it has been anything but easy. However, my persistence to carry on and do the best I can each day has taught me that giving up is never an option.
What advice would you give a student with a similar disability, who wants to pursue a career in the field you work in?
If you have your sights set on something in particular then make sure you pursue it regardless of your personal circumstances or disadvantages. A disability, be it mental or physical, is only a hurdle if you make it one. We are fortunate to live in a country where more and more employers are opening up to equal opportunities for all, and this is exactly the right time to make a push to achieve what you want in life. One tip I would particularly give is to be as open and honest as possible about the disability you have from as early on as you can. The more open and honest you are, the more willing people will be to help you succeed and assist you whenever you need it. Nothing is ever an impossibility, no matter who you are.