Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Where you grew up, your family and so on
Born in Oxford, however raised predominantly in Banbury, arguably the hub of the UK. Living with my family, consisting of myself, my two sisters, mum and dad. I’m a simple, selfless and principled person, which sums up the things I do, and how I conduct myself.
What stage of your studies are you at? How are you enjoying them?
In my final year of my undergraduate studies in Financial Economics, and as each year has progressed, I’ve found myself gravitating more towards wanting to do a Masters in Financial Economics due to how much I’ve enjoyed the depth and breadth of the course.
What do you hope to do next?
It would be my dream to make progress to becoming an economist, or at least put myself in a position where I can apply and add value through my academic experience in the workplace.
How would your friends describe you?
Quiet, hardworking and generous.
Who inspires you?
Both of my parents, but for different reasons. My mum has been the glue that holds our family together, and my dad has allowed me the independence to fall and rise throughout my life, allowing me to learn many things I otherwise wouldn’t have. He also inspires me with his intellect and ability to do things never done before.
If you could be endowed with a talent that you don’t have, what would it be?
If you could be a figure from history, who would it be?
Mike Tyson. His boxing abilities are unparalleled, I re-watch all his fights from time to time, and I cannot put into words how he has been pivotal to the sport.
If you had to be stuck on a desert island with a politician or political leader, who would it be, and why?
Theresa May, as she is my favourite meme.
Is there an issue that you think defines our time?
Our ability to self-sustain and provide for others.
If you were Prime Minister, what would be the first thing you’d do?
Have a cup of tea with the Queen.
You’re at the University of Leicester. Can you tell us something you love about the city? And something you don’t like?
The city is a fantastic place that I feel can cultivate all sorts of talents. (More so than what I am accustomed to in Banbury). The thing I dislike the most is the cost of buses. £4.20 makes absolutely no sense for a day ticket, and is much more expensive than other similar cities such as Nottingham (£2 for a day ticket).
Can you tell us something we probably don’t know about finance/economics/financial economics?
There are many things – the more you know, the more you don’t know.
What do you think makes someone good to work with?
Their ability to form high performing teams and make the most of each other’s strengths.
Do you prefer to work out problems alone or with others?
I have zero preference as to how I learn – if I don’t make the same mistake twice, then I’m happy to embrace any problem.
When we met, you told me that faced with a difficult question in economics, you often go back and rework your understanding of the basics. I find this idea intrinsically appealing. Do you do the same with other areas of your work or life?
In essence yes, though each situation is understandably different. As long as the principles make sense, and that I take ego out of problems, then it makes these problems small in the grand scheme of things, allowing me to refocus on the things that truly matter.
What is your disability?
I have Asperger’s, OCD/Anxiety and Depression.
How long have you known about your disability?
I was misdiagnosed for a very long time. When I was two, I was put into anger management classes. Looking back, I still don’t understand why that was done. However, it was apparent from a very young age that something about my behaviour was different. For example, when I was a baby, my grandmother made me a bottle of milk, but I refused to drink it because my mum hadn’t made it. I forced my grandmother to pour it down the sink, and had my mum remake it.
Did you receive adjustments when you were in education? If so, did you feel they were effective and adequate?
Extra time, however, I don’t feel this on its own was sufficient. I don’t require more time to answer; I need help understanding what is being asked of me. Once I understand that, answering is not difficult. It’s unravelling the information from the way it’s presented that I find hard.
Would you say your disability impacted the accessibility of higher education? For example, did it make it harder for you to attend school/sit exams/find support from friends/receive teaching/write a personal statement/contemplate living away from home – or anything else?
Yes, my Asperger’s episodes were so bad in Year 12, I had next to no energy to function normally, nor apply myself at school. This resulted in my having to sit 16 A-Level exams in my final year in order to have a chance to attend University. Thankfully I managed to get okay grades. However, I truly felt I could have challenged for the top spots, had my Asperger’s not interfered with my life so aggressively at that point. In the grand scheme of things though, it hasn’t changed anything: I’m not intimidated by anyone academically, physically, mentally; I know I can rely on my abilities, and that I can compete against anyone, which is why I don’t let past set–backs or perceived losses get to me. They fuel me for the next hurdle I have to jump.
What, if anything, do you find the most daunting part of the application process for jobs or internships?
The testing. I need significant help to get to the interview stage, thereafter I am confident, but the testing I find extremely difficult and it cuts me out of the picture early on.
Have you ever had a job/internship interview? Was it impacted by your disability? Were there adjustments in place, and did they help?
Yes, but I much prefer face to face interviews to video interviews or online testing.
Can you tell us about any internship you’ve done? Highs? Lows?
I did a placement year with a blue-chip company. Before I had even started work, one of the managers told those reporting to her directly, including an intern I worked closely with, about my autism. The intern repeated this to others, and it altered how people worked with me and communicated with me. It made building relationships with people at work difficult due to their preconceptions of me, all based on information that had been shared without my consent. I can empathise with the intended logic behind her decision – she shared the information in the hope of eradicating any potential conflict. However, it made my overall experience hell, and started my time off with the company on the back foot, taking away my blank canvas which every other employee is afforded. As a result, I couldn’t wait to leave.
When a job application form asks if you require any reasonable adjustments, do you know what to say?
No, as I do not feel there are any alternatives to the testing in place, or alternate paths instead of such screening tests.
Is there any career you might have considered but for your disability?
No, my decision to pursue economics remains constant.
What’s your dream job?
How does your disability impact your day-to-day life?
It uses up all my energy through my ‘rituals’, ‘episodes’, and reduces the time in the day I have to make use of.
Do you think society’s attitude to disability is changing?
Yes, but in a way that doesn’t help. Changing attitudes should be about helping prevent the disability worsening, for example by ensuring that diagnoses are correct, timely and proactive. In contrast, my perception is that we are becoming masters of our reactive roles and responsibilities.
What are the greatest positives of your disability?
My mind is incredibly sharp, and often I understand how things will play out, based on very little. I don’t judge, or have bias – everything is logic/illogically based. I have an ability to adapt as my mind is so open, whether I am wrong or learning something for the first time, I’ve been able to take my ego out of the equation.