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Navigating my career with a disability

Category: Physical Wellbeing, Physical Disability, Disibility Support, Siemens, Support, Peer Support, support network, supportive, physical, physical illness, internal support, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Disability

Overcoming obstacles – a challenge I have learned to tackle already in my teens. Diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as a teenager, I managed to accomplish my A-levels. Working as a Junior Developer at Siemens, I help overcome natural obstacles by creating digital solutions to reduce wastewater network blockages and pollution.

Growing up with a disability

In my teens, I had Glandular fever, which led me to be bedridden and unable to do much. As my body struggled to recover, I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). At 17, I was unable to attend school and would stay at home a lot. Even simple tasks became too difficult. Trying to keep my mind active, I developed a passion for manga, anime, and gaming. When I started to get better, this passion developed into Cosplay (you may need to google it!)

Me in my home-made cosplay-dress

Yes, I am a cosplayer! Not professionally, but in my free time: I like to create the outfits of characters in anime or games and bring them to life. Where possible, I attend conventions wearing my outfits and seek opportunities to learn new techniques on how to expand my craft. I enjoy planning the outfits and the challenges that arise when creating things that weren’t primarily designed as clothes. Anime has led me to enjoy Japanese culture, and I was lucky enough to visit Japan just before Covid-19 began. I say lucky because this trip was the first time I’d been on a plane. One of the highlights of my trip was the walk around the Akihabara district known for its Otaku culture – people interested in anime and manga. This district is literally crazy! The amount of colour on the buildings and the number of people is just so overwhelming. The strangest thing I found was during my visit to the Imperial palace gardens. There you saw these beautiful gardens surrounded by skyscrapers reaching up to the horizon. This was a fascinating contrast to see as I never experienced such pockets of green with so many buildings around.

Akihabara district – Tokyo

Living with CFS is a daily battle, but I won’t let it define who I am! It may have taken me four years to complete my A-Levels (they usually take two), but I then achieved a First-Class degree which I’m really proud of. And since I’ve joined Siemens, I work flexible hours to allow me to manage my ups and downs.

Teamwork in a supportive, lean and agile environment

I have been working for Siemens Digital Industries in Manchester (UK) for just over a year. Manchester is a cosmopolitan city with a diverse culture, and I see this reflected in my team. We have people from many different backgrounds, and I love how we all bring different perspectives to the same problem! Together we work in a team of nine people in an agile manner using scrum techniques with two weekly sprints:

Illustration of a Scrum Process

First of all, there is the product owner and the scrum master. Together they are responsible for keeping the backlog up to date and prioritising to know what is coming up next and what is most important to the stakeholders. The product owner is responsible for the product and representing the needs of the stakeholders. The scrum master supports the team by helping the developers work as efficiently as possible and alleviating any non-development tasks. So he makes sure they don’t get impeded by any arduous processes. They also help to support the product owner with organising the backlog. Then you have two senior developers and two junior developers (I’m one of the Junior Developers). As developers, we implement the application in collaboration with the UX designer and data scientists. The UX designer designs the application in a way that is user-focused and easy to use. Finally, the data science team consists of a senior scientist and a junior data scientist. It is their responsibility to keep the new techniques up to date. They have to do lots of research into what would help make our products innovative and find new possible directions. Working with this fantastic innovative team that is willing to help me with any problems, large or small, motivates me to work every day.

Projects to learn and enable my personal growth

What motivates me about my job is the continuous opportunity to learn from more senior people and foster my personal development. I remember the first project I was working on at Siemens was the SIWA Blockage Predictor – a Siemens MindSphere application that identifies anomalies in sewer system behaviour. It evaluates combined sewer overflow behaviour in real-time, providing a better understanding of the system’s performance of any issues. This solution helps to identify if a sewer is blocked, not operating correctly, or if a Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO) is soon to have operational issues. Artificial Intelligence is applied to level data collected within CSOs or Manholes to provide advanced warning of abnormal behaviour indicative of a blockage or forming a blockage.

The analytics are embedded within a web application, enabling remote access on mobile devices or PCs and notifying users in advance of any issues. Naturally, I was not familiar with the internal systems and applications that Siemens used when I first started. So, my first task when I joined Siemens was to learn everything about MindSphere and the things it has to offer. Only then was I able to help develop the application. I have also had opportunities to learn a bit more about data science and how it works in the new project, which I found very interesting. The application we make relies heavily on large sets of data and using these with machine learning to form the core of our product. Machine learning is revolutionising how we solve data-driven problems and is so cutting edge it changes very fast. This affects our work because we must keep up to date with new machine learning techniques and their uses. I’m looking forward to continuing working with such an innovative team. I’m excited to see what the future holds for us.

Do you want to be one of our Digital Minds? Find out what future Siemens might hold for you in our digital career opportunities.

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