National Stuttering Association

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Margaret HeffernanProduction Manager | Producer

    Margaret Heffernan

    Chicago, IL
    Production Manager | Producer
    George P. Johnson

    Briefly describe your daily job duties.
    I’m a production manager and producer for events and broadcast media. I oversee the execution of projects and manage cross-functional teams including audiovisual, scenic, creative, logistics, etc. I’m the main point of contact for clients and key liaison between teams.

    As a person who stutters, share the most challenging part of your job.
    The main part of my job is talking to people. Leading meetings, doing presentations, and confidently representing my team can be difficult when I can’t even confidently say my name! I always have moments where I don’t feel as fluent or composed as I need to be as the source of leadership for a project.

    I started my career as a theater stage manager, where my job was to call cues over headset. I think those nerves, when the show rests in your words and the entire crew is listening, gave me a great sense of confidence walking into the workforce.

    What are your long-term career aspirations?
    I love what I do, and want to continue working with the talented and creative people I’ve had the pleasure of working with.

    Did you self-disclose your stuttering during the job hiring process?
    I don’t disclose my stutter during interviews or at work. I find that bringing attention to my stutter actually makes it worse. Most people think I just have a slow (or strange) speech pattern. But as I start moving into more senior-level positions, where fluency is more relevant, I may choose to disclose it.

    What is your proudest moment at your current company?
    Any time we get positive client feedback about feeling supported and led throughout the project, that’s a good day! It reminds me that my stutter doesn’t always impact my work.

    Describe how stuttering makes you a better, more valued contributor at work.
    Stuttering makes simple things really challenging. I credit my strong work ethic to my stutter, because I always need to give 110% just to say my name.

    What’s your best advice for people who stutter just entering the workplace and for those in a career striving to achieve greater success?
    People will hear what you say, not necessarily how you say it.

    I was really nervous leaving college. School provides a sort of safety-net for people who stutter, and I realized that my career opportunities were going to be impacted by first impressions. Embarrassing moments and bad days are inevitable, but confidence and preparedness speak louder than a stutter.