It’s fair to say that when Antoni first began his career as a journalist in Poland, he probably wouldn’t have imagined that 15 years later, he’d be living in Hungary and working for a multinational organisation like BP. But he is always up for new challenges. When his partner was offered a job in Budapest, he decided to follow her there. At the time, he was constantly travelling for work, chasing clients in Poland and spending little time at home, and that’s when he started reconsidering his career.
“I was largely working at irregular hours, missing evenings due to newspaper deadlines or closing projects, and losing my weekends due to events. I wanted a change,” he says. So why did he join BP? “BP had the best offer on the table. First of all, it offered me the stability I was looking for. Secondly, BP had great reviews as an employer.”
Before joining BP, Antoni admits that he was sceptical of multinationals. He never thought that he’d join the corporate world. However, now that he’s made the switch, he’s glad he did: “People told me that with my Asperger’s I’d be surprised and enjoy the corporate regulations. I didn’t believe them then, but right now I’m eating my hat.”
What he enjoys most about working for a large company like BP is the diversity of the work, meaning that he’s never bored. It became apparent as soon as he joined that he would have many opportunities to work on projects beyond his day-to-day- role: “I can see different career paths I can make for myself within the company, learn new things, and improve my skillset”, he notes.
He has also found BP to be a supportive environment that – most importantly for him – offers flexibility allowing neuro-diverse employees to perform to the best of their ability:
While Antoni is happy that he works with supportive colleagues in a large and diverse organisation, he feels that there is always more that can be done to ensure neuro-diverse employees can thrive at work. If there was one thing he’d like businesses to know, it would be to recognise that not everyone with Asperger’s is the same or has the same needs. For him, this is the biggest misconception that he’s encountered: “When I say I have Asperger’s, people are shocked and say the magic words, “but you are so normal” – my usual response is “try telling that to my fiancée!”
“The truth is people with Asperger’s often learn to wear masks,” he says. “It takes a lot of self-control and self-awareness to function normally in a society.”
Antoni thinks that it’s important in a workplace setting for managers to be well-informed and not succumb to misconceptions, which he says would make it easier for neuro-diverse people to fully reach their true potential. If Antoni’s story shows us anything, it’s that neuro-diverse employees have a huge amount to offer, but it’s up to organisations to ensure they are creating supportive and inclusive cultures that are shaped by, and for their people.
We are a global business and as such it is paramount to us that the differences we see in the world around us are reflected in our workplace
BP people reflect on why respect and inclusion is so important and share their own experiences