National Stuttering Association

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Justin KeiransProduct Manager

    Justin Keirans

    Vernon Hills, IL
    Product Manager

    Briefly describe your daily job duties.
    I’m a Product Manager and I work on software projects. My job is to help define features and functionality that make our customers’ lives better, then work with Designers, Software Engineers, and Testers to turn those ideas into reality. A typical day is split between learning new things (e.g., research, understanding what problems exist and how people are solving them, learning new skills, etc.), attending and/or facilitating meetings, helping teams make progress on projects/tasks, and working through ideas and information that can be applied to future projects.

    As a person who stutters, share the most challenging part of your job.
    Presenting to groups of people is always challenging for me (large groups are even tougher!), so I always try to prepare visuals that can help illustrate the points I’m making. Things like pictures, diagrams, or step-by-step flows help communicate complicated ideas while I’m working through the words I want to say.

    What are your long-term career aspirations?
    I’d love to continue working on products that make people’s lives better.

    Did you self-disclose your stuttering during the job hiring process?
    Yes, I prefer to self-disclose when talking with recruiters, hiring managers, interviewers, etc. Mentioning that I’m a person who stutters early in the conversation helps me focus on what I’m saying instead of how I’m saying it. My go-to disclosure phrase is something like, “And just so you’re aware, I stutter when I talk so you’ll probably hear me repeat words or get stuck on certain sounds. But don’t worry, it’s not contagious.” It’s memorable and sets realistic expectations while letting them know that I have a sense of humor and I’m comfortable talking openly about it.

    What is your proudest moment at your current company?
    Helping to deliver a complex billing system rewrite with an all-remote team that required sustained teamwork and collaboration across our organization. We successfully introduced a lot of change during a very uncertain time in everyone’s lives.

    Describe how stuttering makes you a better, more valued contributor at work.
    I work on being a good, active listener. I always try to give people the space and time to share their ideas without interruption because I know how hard it can be to communicate.

    What’s your best advice for people who stutter just entering the workplace and for those in a career striving to achieve greater success?
    In general, people don’t think about the way you speak as much as you think they do, so take the time you need to say what you want to say using the words that you want to use. Get creative about the ways in which you communicate information and ideas. Model the behaviors that you’d like to see in others and set boundaries for yourself to help maintain a healthy work life.