ND diagnosis or self-identify as:
ADHD diagnosed as an adult.
Current job title:
Data Science Manager – EY
Degree/apprenticeship or route to current job:
MChem Chemistry – University of Leicester; MSc Data Science and Analytics – Royal Holloway University of London.
After my undergraduate in Chemistry, I spent several years working in operations and analytics at Sky. Following this I studied a Masters in Data Science and Analytics which led me into my career as a Data Science Consultant. Throughout the years I have worked across numerous sectors (government, public sector, commercial, cyber security) to deliver Data Science solutions with a variety of clients. Throughout my career I developed a keen interest in Solution Architecture becoming a certified Microsoft Azure Solution Architect and continued to explore my passion for statistics.
What does your job involve?
Delivering Data Science and analytics solutions with clients to improve how they utilise their data in an impactful way. This often involves applied statistics for inference or prediction.
Designing and building Data Science and AI solutions for clients.
Assisting clients navigate their data challenges and demonstrate the ‘art-of-the-possible’ by building solutions that have value to an organisation.
Leading teams of Data Professionals and raising awareness for Neurodiversity in the workplace as part of our DE&I (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) initiative.
What were your challenges in school?
I struggled with concentration throughout school, I remember struggling to sit through maths lessons which is surprising in hindsight as applied statistics a part of my career I greatly enjoy.
I performed poorly in coursework as I struggled with attention to detail, however performed well in exams. My performance in exams was not due to my work ethic throughout the year, I opted to putting an entire years’ worth of learning very intensely into the last few weeks. Often learning all the material required rather than advising. This was always a stressful experience but worked for me at the time as using this adaptation I was able to continue performing well and dedicate the time needed to get the outcome I needed. After being diagnosed and treated for ADHD I became far better at regularly managing my time and effort.
A bigger challenge in school was being unable to focus in classes, this led me to forgetting about homework assignments and having regular detentions for either forgetfulness or (mostly) talking in class. Having been diagnosed earlier would have helped me understand some of these challenges and how to better manage them.
What strategies/assistive technology do you use to help you in your work?
Primarily, a treatment I use for ADHD is medication this helps quite a bit to manage the symptoms. However, there are a few strategies that I use to manage my time better. I record everything in note form and ensure that it goes into my calendar as a task with a deadline. I then estimate how long that task will take me book out sections of my calendar. This gives me dedicated time to focus on a particular task and reduces the stress of juggling multiple at once.
Given that I sometimes struggle to maintain full attention when someone is talking, I prefer for plans to be written rather than verbal so I can spend more time digesting the information, alternatively recording audio if permitted.
The greatest strategy I have found is being part of a diverse team, this really helps as others can assist on areas that I may find challenging in the same way I can assist them on areas that I excel at.
What ND skills have allowed you to succeed (or progress) in your STEM career?
Creativity and problem solving. One disadvantage of ADHD is that it is sometimes difficult to narrow your vision to the scope of a particular problem, however when a novel solution needs to be created that inability turns into an asset. This out-of-the-box thinking combined with knowledge often means I am capable of solving fairly challenging and unique problems. However, this also is a negative when not meeting a challenge I have that same passion for.
Another attribute is ‘passion’, I am very passionate and genuinely enjoy the work I do, this comes across when working with co-workers and clients. The ‘Hyperactivity’ is nearly always a negative however when energetically explaining something I find interesting, that energy and passion resonates with people around me.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Seek diagnosis for ADHD. There is quite a lot of challenges that my younger self had to find a way to adapt to which required more time, mental effort, and stress. All of this could have been significantly reduced if I knew more about the condition and advice on managing it.
Also, to understand that school is very different from university and the workplace, throughout school my passion for maths fell due to the way it was taught as the aspects that I enjoyed were mixed with many others that I did not. If there is something that you enjoy learning autonomously, it is worth exploring routes that interest might take you on.