National Stuttering Association

Ariel MahlmannMarketing Coordinator

    Ariel Mahlmann

    College Park, MD
    Marketing Coordinator
    RackTop Systems

    Briefly describe your daily job duties.
    I’m a marketing coordinator for a cybersecurity company, RackTop Systems. Since we’re still relatively small, my job duties range from event planning to digital ad creation to market research. I love that I can dabble in a little bit of everything. It’s a great place to learn what you enjoy best and focus on improving certain skills. It’s also a collaborative environment, which means there’s lots of opportunities to engage with others!

    As a person who stutters, share the most challenging part of your job.
    The most challenging part of my job is making a good first impression. I put a lot of pressure on myself to sound perfect when talking to individuals because I know how important first impressions are in an industry that’s exploding with business. Everyday I’m working on incorporating my stutter into the idea of a great first impression. It’s definitely a work in progress!

    Did you self-disclose your stuttering during the job hiring process? If so, how did you do it and how do you currently disclose your stuttering to unsuspecting co-workers, clients and or customers?
    I did self-disclose during the interview process. We discussed flex time, so I mentioned that on Wednesdays I attend speech therapy because I’m a person who stutters and would need to fit my schedule around that. It went super well, and my boss was very understanding and supportive.

    I currently self-disclose to my colleagues by mentioning that I’m going on vacation to attend the National Stuttering Association Conference in July, or by mentioning that I have to leave work a few minutes early to make it to speech therapy. I like to incorporate advertising into the existing conversation because it feels much more natural! It also invites follow up questions from the audience, which is nice.

    Describe how stuttering makes you a better, more valued contributor at work.
    Stuttering makes me value good communication SO much. And good communication doesn’t just mean fluent speech. Saying what you want to say, when you want to say it, is critical when working in a fast-paced startup environment. Listening to what others are saying is also very important because it allows you to understand what the common goal is and how you can contribute to it. Because of my stutter, I have excellent communication and listening skills that allow me to provide and reciprocate valuable ideas.

    What is your proudest moment at your current company?
    Since starting this new job, I’ve looked at this as an opportunity to “start fresh” and show people that I’m a confident communicator despite having a stutter. With this attitude, I’m able to actually show my stutter and feel less embarrassed and ashamed. I have a bunch of little moments that I’m really proud of, such as moments where I showed stuttering without feeling embarrassed, and moments where I had a more personal conversation about what it’s like having a stutter. It’s the little, daily victories that mean the most to me right now!

    What are your long-term career aspirations?
    I love working in marketing because the landscape is always changing. There are endless learning opportunities. One day in the future, I’ll be in an executive position where I’m responsible for creating a highly successful and impactful brand strategies for a company. If I can look at my work and say that I helped grow a company from a startup to an industry leader, then I will have reached my career goals!

    What’s your best advice for people who stutter just entering the workplace and for those in a career striving to achieve greater success?
    Be confident in your abilities. Your stutter, your age, your background, etc. doesn’t affect your abilities as long as you are confident in yourself. We’re living in a society where speaking up is more valued than ever, so don’t be afraid to assert yourself into something if you know you can provide value.