Shaun Ahmed, 24, is a business banker at Barclays. He studied finance at Westminster University, before completing a Masters in international business at Birkbeck University. Shaun had a severe stammer until receiving speech therapy, which improved his speech
and confidence in the years preceding graduation.
What’s your background?
I have always been interested in business and finance, so much so that, when I was younger my favourite game was opening up market stores with my friends. As I got older
my interest developed and I started to buy and sell goods on eBay. I managed to pay off my student tuition fees on eBay so I knew I had a flair for this kind of career.
How did you handle your job hunt?
At university my stammer was a lot more severe and it was obvious that I would have to do
something if I wanted to succeed in my career. I undertook lots of research. Eventually, I went to a lot of speech workshops and I also took the Maguire course, a course run by Pop Idol winner and stammer sufferer Gareth Gates. The course really helped my speech
and improved my confidence. At this time I also found the organisation EmployAbility (www.employ-ability.org.uk) that assists people with disabilities into employment. The organisation was really understanding and helpful, even setting up mock interviews to help
me prepare for the real thing, so when I walked in I wouldn’t be as nervous. When I had interviews, EmployAbility also made sure suitable adjustments were made for me, liaising with Barclays beforehand to let them know exactly what I would need. In the end to secure the job I had to complete an online application, then do a numeracy test, a second-round interview and group exercises as well. It was quite an intensive process and I don’t think I could have got through it without the extra preparation I had put in beforehand.
Did you face any barriers?
I would be lying if I said people were always really understanding about my speech impediment. There is still a taboo about stammers, although we have a greater awareness of the disability now. However, when I went for my interviews at Barclays I didn’t feel ‘different’ at all and that is why I chose them.
Any tips for fellow graduates?
Don’t lose focus of what you want to do even if you have a disability because there are companies and organisations such as EmployAbility who want to help and support you throughout your job search. My main advice would be to never give up . My first day at work was a very nerve-wracking but exciting prospect, I’m so pleased I succeeded in getting my dream job.