Antoni’s career has taken him from being a journalist writing for “The Warsaw Voice” and “Polska The Times”, to the Polish Motorboat and Water-Ski Association, being Creative Director for DNA Agency, to his current role as a senior customer service representative at bp. “My Asperger’s (as I like to call it) has gifted me with a very interesting career”. He says it was bp’s openness to diversity that originally drew him to the role, “I knew the way I thought would be more understood and could see an interesting career path ahead of me.”
“It’s been an exciting year at bp” explains Antoni. In that time, he’s joined the core neurodiversity working group, promoting inclusion and support within the business and hiring neurodiverse talent, and launched a neurodiversity ally programme in Budapest, where he’s based. “The goal is for people to be able to identify themselves as neurodiverse if they want to, without feeling any sense of stigma.” For Antoni, it’s important for people to take an open and collaborative approach: “Neurodiversity isn’t something people should feel they have to keep to themselves.”
Antoni credits his mother for inspiring him to speak out: “In my opinion, the worst thing you can do is sit back and stay quiet about things. I’m not one of those people. I think I learned a lot from my Mum who was never afraid to be vocal about who she was and what she believed in.”
Knowing there are support systems in place is key to making others feel comfortable self-identifying as neurodiverse. Antoni advises others that “When you find yourself in a difficult situation, I think it’s always worth to be able to find somebody that you can open up to. Don’t be afraid to speak about your condition. There’s nothing wrong. In fact, you’re doing a favour to everyone else by talking about this openly. You make people aware and most people will know you’re a fantastic person.”
For Antoni, championing neurodiversity is a constant process of learning. “Over my journey, especially in the past year, I’ve educated myself even more by talking to various people. For example, I’ve learnt that we should be talking about neuroinclusivity, to show that there’s a place for everyone in the organisation.” He says bp takes a similar approach, “they’re always looking at developing things, taking on board the learnings from initiatives like last year’s Ambitious About Autism interns, and thinking about what the next step is.”
What does neurodiversity, or neuroinclusivity, mean to Antoni? He says that above all, “It’s about creating an environment where everybody can find a place to be themselves. Where everybody works together to create a nice working environment and deliver for the business.”
Although Roger’s father worked in the energy industry for 50 years, it was a passion for digital transformation that inspired him to join bp as VP, Global Head of Design. “I see this transformation as a digital awakening and there is such an incredible story to tell. Making sure humans are at the center of the digital equation is an opportunity and challenge I felt excited to take on,” Roger reflects.
For Roger, the people at bp create a caring but exciting environment: “They’re brilliant, passionate and are invested in our mission – there’s something truly special about our culture.” Working globally means Roger is surrounded by diverse perspectives, which he feels are welcomed. “At bp, it’s okay to color outside the lines! We’re reinventing our organization and we’re encouraged to think creatively, inclusively and to embrace diverse viewpoints”, he reflects.
As part of bp’s neurodiversity group, Roger particularly values this approach. The group’s mission is to champion neurodiversity by raising awareness and educating internally, as well as providing support and adjustments to unlock the potential of neurodiverse talent.
“Being active in this group is important to me personally because my son is autistic”, Roger explains. “I not only get support as someone who has a neuro-diverse family member, but can also join like-minded people to champion change and help neuro-diverse individuals working for bp.”
Above all, Roger believes that all people starting their careers should feel able to be their authentic selves. He adds: “The gifts that neurodiverse people have should be considered as superpowers. People with a disability can make a big difference in so many areas. We need to recognize this and give them enough space and opportunity for it to happen”.
What advice would he give to others caring for someone with a disability? “You’re not alone. Reach out, ask for help when needed and be a champion for change. You know first-hand how special people with a disability can be and what gifts they can offer to the world.”
Over the past decade, Rufat’s career at bp has evolved from electrical technician, to electrical and instrumentation discipline development advisor, to his current role as health, safety, environmental, and cyber advisor.
An appreciation for their differences has brought people together: “We genuinely care about each other. There’s an understanding and recognition that a culture where you can speak up is important, not just to make sure we don’t compromise on safety, but for creating a working environment where we all feel comfortable and able to be ourselves. We are all united by the purpose of delivering for the business, but at the same time we’re all different and those differences are celebrated.”
Rufat credits this open culture for the support he’s received as the parent of an autistic child. “My daughter being diagnosed with autism aged two was never something I felt like I needed to hide at work. I talked to my manager straight away.” He says, “people are very understanding and supportive, and it goes both ways. I’m open about my child’s autism, and because we’re so open about it, lots of people at bp get in touch through HR and other channels to ask for advice.
Balancing his work and caring responsibilities, Rufat has been able to create a flexible approach that works for him and his family: “I was given flexible hours so if I needed to stay at home to look after my child, or give my wife a break, I could call my line manager and arrange it”.
Rufat also finds support in his team and network of other parents of neurodiverse children, who send each other relevant medical news and developments, as well as sharing their experiences. He adds, “it means a lot to me that bp supports autism awareness charities and partners.”
The biggest lesson for Rufat, and the advice he’d give others in his position is to never give up. “It’s a trial, but one you have to go through. It might at times look like a big task, but if you take it step by step and share what you’re going through with others, you can overcome it”.
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