Briefly describe your daily job duties.
As a Tax Managing Director, I’m in charge of dozens of clients and professional staff. I manage all my client’s projects, ensure client work gets done, call clients to update project status, and field calls from clients about consulting work. In addition to my client work, I also manage our professional staff. This includes checking-in with them on projects, career development discussions, helping employees with technical work or other issues, and occasionally helping with personal issues.
As a person who stutters, share the most challenging part of your job.
The most challenging part of my job is the constant social interaction. A day does not go by when I’m not spending a large part of my day speaking with people. Most of the time the people I speak with already know I stutter. But, I get calls from clients or from new staff who don’t know. I try to disclose, but this doesn’t always happen. It’s very draining day after day to be so conversational even when I don’t want to be – especially when I’m having disfluent days.
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 not self-disclose during my job interviews. Unfortunately, I was ashamed of my stuttering and it showed. I was turned away from every job interview with public accounting firms. It wasn’t until my last interview, with BDO USA, which I still work for 12 years later, that I owned my speech. I persevered and wasn’t going my stutter hold me back from getting the job I wanted.
Today, I make a point of bringing up my stutter during first encounters with people. During interviews for new staff, I open with the same thing, “Hi my name is Zac. First off, I want to let you know that I am a person who stutters. If I say anything you may not clearing hear then please ask me to repeat myself.”
Describe how stuttering makes you a better, more valued contributor at work.
I spend a lot of my time listening. It helps make our professional staff at BDO USA feel valued and listened to, and I’m better equipped to help them by listening more. This helps with clients as well because I can hear what their concerns are and be able to better assist them.
What is your proudest moment at your current company?
I have two proud moments. First, was giving a two-hour presentation to a client’s Board of Directors. This was the first presentation I gave to such a high-level audience. I practiced for hours the night before and started to psych myself out; but, I did a great job with minimal disruptions. Second, was being nominated to be a Tax Partner in the Anchorage BDO USA office.
What are your long-term career aspirations?
My ultimate goal is to thrive in the professional world as a person who stutters. When I was interviewing for jobs in public accounting, I was greeted with the typical reaction from firms because of my stutter. I was even told to not pursue public accounting because it requires too much talking. I strive to be an example for people who stutter that there are no limits in any professional and in life.
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 have tremendous value. Do not let your stutter limit the greatness you can achieve. Your voice is worth being heard, especially today when “social norms” are being challenged. Own your truth. Speak your truth.