In my previous jobs, I have always felt that we were losing out on talent by overlooking those who do not conform to our societal ‘norms’. I was looking for a way to increase diversity in my team and bring in more technical expertise, when I learnt about auticon through a colleague who was involved in the DLG Diversity Network Alliance.
We initially started with a three month contract as suggested by auticon, but this was extended once it became clear that the project was proving beneficial for all parties. The project was to change an undocumented data transformation process for one of our products from SAS to Alteryx. Essentially, a bunch of coding needed to be translated into an understandable process in new software we had purchased.
auticon asked for a very detailed job description pertaining to the project role so they could find the best consultant to match the project’s requirements. We then met the consultant to understand their motivations and expectations and close any gaps in the job description. The day before auticon’s consultant joined their job coach came to meet the team. She gave us an overview of autism and then went into the details of what to expect from their consultant behaviourally. She discussed in detail the likes and dislikes of the auticon consultant. This gave us confidence in the support framework auticon was providing for its clients. Indeed, the whole engagement process from auticon’s side was very comforting and made us feel secure that auticon had the professional capability to make such contracts mutually beneficial for the client and the consultant. The availability of a job coach also reassures the manager there is always expert support available in case there are any issues.
Projects like these tend to linger on because of lack of documentation and ambiguity of coding. The project delivery was much quicker than expected with the first useful deliveries being available within months. Similar projects in the past took us no less than six months using more than one fixed time resource. In addition, the approach of auticon’s consultant was quite refreshing and provided a different perspective to the problem. They were able to use their attention to detail to pre-empt a far wider degree of contingencies, and hence their code could be used for a much wider variety of purposes.
I would say our work with auticon has helped to normalise the presence of autistic individuals within our team. In the past, my direct reports and I have been sceptical about managing autistic individuals due to not having the right support framework in place and fearing what to do should things go wrong. auticon has completely alleviated such concerns. Overall the project was very enriching. It was at times challenging but a massive learning experience on how to manage diverse individuals. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to work with auticon and see the value they can add. I would absolutely work with auticon again in the future.
There is a massive amount of untapped talent and skills readily available within the autistic community. With the right kind of support framework, both for the potential employees and companies, there is a serious opportunity for the financial sector to make use of previously overlooked talent. Quite simply, if we are prepared to accept more diversity in views, opinions and behaviours in our teams, then companies and society can benefit from overlooked brilliance.
Head of Pricing Development, Commercial Lines, Pricing and Underwriting