I joined Enterprise on the Graduate Management Trainee scheme shortly after completing my degree in Politics at the University of Leeds. I knew I was looking for a role that would give me lots of responsibility and quick progression into management and that was exactly what I found at Enterprise. Since joining, I’ve been promoted five times, including running my own branch for two and a half years.
At the beginning of 2011, I was promoted to the HR department at the North East regional head office, which has allowed me to build upon many of the strengths I developed as a branch manager, primarily in people management. More recently, I was promoted to Group HR Manager for the North West of England and North Wales region which has given me the opportunity to oversee three different departments (Talent Acquisition, Talent Development and Generalism) and to fulfil those responsibilities for over 400 employees.
I’m dyslexic and with such a large proportion of my role being based around reading and writing that could be problematic – but only if I let it. Now that I know my own strengths and challenges it’s certainly become easier. I know that there can be times when it’s a struggle to read work, maintain concentration levels or write coherently, but ensuring I take breaks, read work out loud and switch tasks helps me to maintain the quality and quantity of my work. In all honesty I often view my dyslexia as benefit. Why? Because I know that having dyslexia means I have enhanced creativity and problem solving skills. For example, when I read a sentence my brain will have to work differently just to understand its meaning, so I’m used to finding creative solutions around a problem. I’ve come to understand that the impact on my day-to-day work varies, and overall it doesn’t interfere too much. Instead, I try to be as proactive as possible with any challenges that may crop up and think in terms of solutions rather than obstacles.
I haven’t always been open about my dyslexia in the past, and when I applied to Enterprise I didn’t declare it on my application because I thought it would hold me back. I couldn’t have been more wrong. In fact, I’ve received nothing but support and encouragement. Now, I’m no longer embarrassed about my disability and I feel comfortable when it comes to making it clear what I’ll need in order to accomplish a task.
I know I’m very lucky, because Enterprise is so focused on support and inclusion – it’s embedded in the business – that a lot of the help I get from other employees is second nature. The culture here is very creative and adapts easily to the needs of the individual and that’s perfect for me – I don’t want to feel different, I just want to have the same chance of success as everyone else.
I often struggle to see myself as having a disability, as I know many people have some problems with reading and writing, but I know dyslexia is much more complex than that and affects my life in many ways, even if I don’t admit it. It’s only when I reflect on what I actually do day-to-day to complete basic tasks that I realise that I’m different.
My advice is simple. Find solutions to overcome obstacles that work for you, be positive and proactive to find workarounds. Your disability doesn’t define who you are – it’s just one part of you, and it shouldn’t restrict your ambitions. If you think that Enterprise sounds like the kind of inclusive, forward-thinking company you’d like to be a part of, why not see what roles and vacancies are available?