Adam Pickering spent years trying to hide his neurodivergence out of concern it would hinder his ambitions to be a successful consultant. Joining CGI in 2020 made him realise that not only can he feel comfortable being open about who he is, but that this unique trait is part of what makes him the fantastic consultant he is today.
I have always had a great memory for anything I have an interest in, which I later realised is common for someone who is neurodivergent. When I started my career as a help desk analyst doing first line support, I moved towards management and then into cybersecurity quite by accident. There was a need for someone on the ground to have an active part in a security audit and after picking this up, I found I had a bit of a flare for it.
I was able to hyperfocus on the standards we were working towards, which gave me the edge for getting it over the line. The Security Manager at the time recognised my abilities and moved me into his organisation and I simply took it from there. I was able to consume knowledge at an enhanced rate because of my neurodivergence and retain what I needed to meet the business needs.
In 2020 I landed with CGI. This is the first place I’ve ever felt comfortable being open about the fact I am neurodivergent. Having been diagnosed in my early teens, I’d tried to hide it for most of my life. However, with CGI’s encouragement to “bring your whole self to work”, I gained the confidence to be open about my condition and my manager was completely understanding and supportive. She brought in some workplace adjustments, and for the first time in my professional life, I felt I was on even ground.
Finding a home at work
My goal was working somewhere I could grow and add credibility to my skills as a consultant. I saw CGI as a chance to really become the consultant I believed I could be.
At the time I was still very much in the mindset of keeping my neurodivergence secret. I had very low support needs and felt strongly I should keep it to myself. I didn’t need to feel like this though. I quickly discovered that CGI’s culture gave me the courage to be honest about my condition and I decided to talk openly to my manager about it. What a turning point!
I often think about how nervous I was about that first conversation and wish I’d had it much earlier on in my career. It was the moment I started to realise I could be neurodivergent and meet my potential because of the condition, not in spite of it.
CGI’s taught me to own who I am
I honestly think CGI attracts people who genuinely just want to see the people around them grow. Straight away I realised just how developmental the company was. Senior members and leaders all have a vested interest in developing the people around them. One senior in particular took a real interest in me in those early days and understood what I wanted to achieve. And over the last two years, my current director has been supporting my professional development with training and assisting my promotions to both Lead Consultant (CL5) and Director – Consulting Delivery (DC).
For me, CGI’s utter commitment to inclusivity makes it stand out as the most encouraging and developmental environment I’ve ever worked in. Everyone here has the same mentality of ‘bring your whole self at work’. I’ve helped to form the CGI Neurodivergence Support network, which has allowed me to support neurodivergent members who are seeking or have recently had a diagnosis, and I’m so proud of what we’re doing there. It’s also given me the courage to seek my own adult diagnosis of neurodivergence and really own who I am because of it.