How did you get started in your career and what drew you to the organisations you have worked for?
I graduated from university in 1996 with a 2:1 BA Hons degree in Business Enterprise and was keen to follow a career in either customer services or HR. I spent few years of my career working with the Royal National Institute of Blind People as a PA and then moved to a voluntary role at the Warrington Disability Information Service. Since joining Accenture I have held a variety of roles providing customer support and training to global teams and most recently supporting Accenture’s Enablement Network, where I work with the business forum on disability to arrange workshops help to support International Day for Persons with Disabilities in December 2016.
I enjoy variety in my work and I certainly found this in Accenture whose attitude from day one was extremely refreshing. ‘Tell us what we can do for you’ seemed to be the approach from the start.
How do you manage your disability at work?
As a totally blind person I have adopted an open and honest approach from the outset. Using jaws screen-reading software along with a Braille display means that I am able to interact effectively with my customers, many of whom haven’t always realised that I have a disability. I have also benefited from the flexible working scheme which has enabled me to work from home for up to 3 days per week, thus reducing the need to commute to the office which is especially helpful in bad weather or transport disruption.
How has your employer helped you to do well at your workplace?
Accenture were extremely pro-active from the outset in providing me with equipment and support from day one which prevented me from having to use the access to work scheme. This really helped me to settle into the company and provided a great sense of well-being.
On-going training has also been made available to me to help ensure I can work effectively with new technologies. I have also been fortunate in securing disability leave on a number of occasions for training with my guide dogs or on routes to new offices.
What advice or top tips would you offer?
Be confident in yourself. If people ask you to do something, the chances are they are confident in your abilities. It is true, there will be challenges, but there is normally a solution to most situations. At the same time, be honest with yourself and those you interact with. Take time to manage your career and don’t be afraid to look for challenges or step up to the mark, even if this might seem daunting in the first instance. Doing something that might initially scare you can be a real positive step towards development. Also, be open minded as opportunities may arise when you least expect.
What has been your proudest moment since starting work?
In 2013, I was instrumental in managing a project to change the UK Employee Long Service Award Scheme. I worked closely with members of the management team to assist in researching potential suppliers and eventually helped forge a relationship with the chosen provider. The project also involved liaising with payroll to ensure the scheme was tax-compliant.
What have you done with your annual leave from work in the last year?
I have a passion for travel and over the past 12 months, travelled to Malta and more recently, enjoyed a twelve day safari in Southern Africa covering Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. The experience was fabulous with highlights including visit to Victoria Falls, a day of extreme sports including a gorge swing, early morning and night time game drives through the national park, elephant safari, cheetah encounter and walking with lions.