Anoop Gosai is a highly experienced tech recruiter with a wealth of knowledge regarding the Scottish tech sector. Anoop is currently working as Senior Talent Acquisition Partner at Scott Logic focussing on the company’s growth across Scotland.
Hamilton Forth’s Atif Hussain recently caught up with Anoop to discuss the importance of creating a workplace culture with a real focus on neurodiversity. Anoop shared his personal experiences around coping with his dyslexia and ADHD throughout his career, how he embraced his neurodiversity to become a successful recruiter, and how he envisages the future of creating a workplace that is truly inclusive for neurodiverse individuals.
What is neurodiversity to you?
Interestingly, the term ‘neurodiversity’ was coined by an Australian Sociologist called Judy Singer in 1998. What Judy had established was the concept of there being differences in how the brain functions. Most importantly, her definition of neurodiversity views brain differences as being completely normal.
This is backed up by the statistics. If we look at the UK specifically, it’s estimated that around 1 in 7 people are neurodivergent. That’s a staggering 15% of the UK population.
There are several recognised types of neurodivergence, including Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Epilepsy, Hyperlexia, Dyspraxia, ADHD, Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and Tourette Syndrome (TS).
I personally fall into the Dyslexia and ADHD bracket of neurodiversity. I like to think that I have a very different/creative way of thinking and being able to do my job, and it helps me to relate to the some of the challenges faced by other people who fall under neurodiversity.
The mind is a complex thing, and everyone thinks differently and as Judy Singer advocated, I fully agree that neurodiversity is perfectly normal and should be normalised within society and within the workplace.
When was your dyslexia diagnosed and when did you become comfortable talking about it?
My dyslexia was diagnosed when I was in my first year at High School and I was required to attend extra learning support classes in lieu of doing a Language class.
As a 12-year-old in the mid-1990s, I was very self-conscious and worried what my peers would make of me attending this class. I remember I used to sneak into the class without any of my classmates seeing me as attending this class made me feel I was ‘stupid’.
Most of my life, I was chasing what I can only describe as ‘being normal’. It wasn’t until I started professional work that I became more open to talking about my dyslexia and how it impacted me.
When I started my career, I wasn’t very good initially. I struggled. I spoke with my peers who helped me, and by focusing on my strengths in building relationships and thinking out of the box, it really helped me focus. As a result, I started to perform really well in my role.
What challenges do you face as a result of your dyslexia?
I can get overwhelmed easily – if there are many tasks, I can quite easily get lost in doing a lot of things as I perceive all tasks to be very important.
Having lots of tasks which are verbal with no way of writing them down. I worry I will forget to complete these tasks.
What are your coping mechanisms?
I use a number of coping mechanisms including:
- Keeping things simple – understanding what the outcome needs to be and then creating a strategy/journey to get there
- Writing things down and being prepared for the day ahead. I keep my diary and “to do list” which I update regularly. It is also important to note that I hand write this and use different colour pens so that it stands out, especially yellow highlighters and yellow post-it notes. 😊
- Speaking – collaborating and sharing ideas and thoughts is a great way, but also helps foster a great team, partnership, and above all trust
- Lastly, having a lot of passion for what I am doing and a clear purpose as to “why” I am doing it
In your early years, how were you perceived by your peers?
Good question. I think “misunderstood” would be a great starting point. I think most people with a neurodiverse background would often feel at some point that they are perceived as being stupid, not listening, not concentrating, or disinterested in something – which often is not the case. It’s our way of coping or processing information. I would often be very quiet and would listen and take my time before acting on something. It was very difficult – certainly, when I was at school where you often had to learn at the same pace as your peers and if you didn’t do well your scores/grades would be low (in my case they were).
What inspired and motivated you to keep going?
When I left school at 16, I worked briefly in the family grocery business which I knew was something I didn’t want to pursue. I saw an article in a newspaper that showed famous celebrities and historic figures who had dyslexia. I learned that Albert Einstein was dyslexic. I knew I wasn’t going to be a smart as him, but it was enough to get me thinking about normalising my condition and was the first step in believing in myself – that I could in fact learn and pursue my dream at 16 years old of getting a degree. I had a strong “want”. I “wanted” to achieve a degree. I wrote down a basic plan on how to get there and persevered through grit and determination. I wanted to prove to myself I could do it.
So, I took a learning journey through college doing an NC and then an HND which then led to me being able to go to University where I graduated with an MA in Human Resources from Heriot-Watt University. It was a great journey where I learned so much.
How accommodating is the environment at Scott Logic for people with a neurodiverse background?
Extremely. One of our core values is collaboration. We solve complex IT problems for our clients and we do that by having a great team focused on the task at hand. The great thing about Scott Logic is that we focus on continual learning and being the best that we as individuals can be. I think that Scott Logic is a great environment which is well suited to someone from a neurodiverse background because as a company we really care about our people and want them to do well in their career. For example we are currently working on improving our interview process for individuals from a Nerodiverse background.
Have you or do you plan on attending any training courses?
Our CEO Steve Foreshew-Cain provided training recently on SDI which stands for Strength Deployment Inventory. This is something which is being rolled out to all employees within Scott Logic. Essentially it is a self-scoring motivational assessment tool that provides an understanding of what drives you and what drives others. It is used in corporate settings for team building, conflict management, leadership development, communication enhancement. This was beneficial to me as someone who is neurodivergent – it helped me and others to see where my strengths are, and it gave me insights that will allow me to adapt my style of communication to get the best out of my interactions with people of varying personality traits.
At Scott Logic, we encourage continual learning and I have a £1000 personal development budget with 2 days off for study leave. I plan on doing a Neurodiversity certification/course to help me understand this area more deeply and help support me in attracting talent within this area.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t chase “normal”, there is no such thing as being normal. Be yourself and be proud of what you have done and learned. Find out what you are good at and try to be a master of that skill.
Also, speak with people you trust for advice and support. Often being honest with people can allow them to understand what you are going through and often they may be able to support you.
Where would you like to see the biggest change when it comes to truly embracing neurodiversity in the workplace?
Firstly, I firmly believe that we must embrace neurodiversity in its entirety. One aspect of my dyslexia is that I have a high sense of emotional intelligence. Once I embraced this, I was able to build incredibly powerful and long-lasting relationships with my colleagues, candidates, and clients.
Ideally, I’d like to see neurodiversity normalised in the workplace. Companies should build trust with employees and support them to be open about adapting work practices to allow neurodivergent employees to flourish – encompassing everything from the interview process onwards.
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