Briefly describe your daily job duties.
The fun thing about process improvement is that no two days are exactly the same! My role is to essentially provide value wherever I can. Sometimes that is performing root cause analysis with an internal partner to understand where/why a particular process breakdown is happening and how it’s impacting their team. Other times it’s telling a story by creating a presentation to share with senior leaders when I need to convey how much the company will save by making a particular change. I love that I have the privilege of changing the way people view things – turning issues into opportunities.
As a person who stutters, share the most challenging part of your job.
I’m in meetings a lot. Whether I’m leading them or actively listening, communication is important. In the past I had major anxiety if I knew I had to do a presentation… these days I’m like “I haven’t died yet. If I stutter a little bit, so what?” 😊
How supported at work do you feel by your co-workers, supervisor(s) and the company itself?
Soon after I joined Evolent, I found out they have a BRG (Business Resource Group) for employees with disabilities. It was so cool to know I had landed at a place that not only valued diversity but also celebrated it. I feel free to bring my full self to work, and that’s a great feeling to have.
Did you self-disclose your stuttering during the job hiring process?
I did! During the first interview, I told my manager straight up “Hey, I’m a person who stutters so you may hear some pauses or disfluencies in my speech. Let me know if you need me to repeat anything.” – getting to a point of being able to do that confidently has been a journey. I’ve found that disclosing in this way has three benefits:
1) It puts my stutter out there so I don’t feel the need to do the mental gymnastics of trying to hide it
2) It breaks down any confusion the listener may have about what is going on with my speech
3) I show that I’m okay with the way that I talk and they should be too
Describe how stuttering makes you a better, more valued contributor at work.
Stuttering has made me a more deliberate communicator. I became aware of how many filler words I was using in my speech (in an effort to appear fluent) and I’ve tried my best to stop doing this. My goal is to say what I want, stutter or not. My coworkers also realize that when I’m speaking up, it’s not going to be fluff just to fill the void… I’m saying something that I hope adds value and substance to the conversation!
What’s your best advice for people who stutter just entering the workplace and for those in a career striving to achieve greater success?
You are going to have good and bad days at work, it’s inevitable. But don’t let the quality of your day be determined by how much (or little) you stutter. If that is difficult, focus on the other intangible things that make you a great employee – always be willing to learn, go the extra mile, and be proactive about looking for ways to make things better. You’ll be surprised at how far you get just by working harder than the average person.