Jamie is living proof, that no matter what challenges are thrown your way, we should never put a ceiling on our success.
- Location: New South Wales
- Industry: Information Services & Technology
- Job Function: Information Services & Technology
- Programme: MBA
- Motivation: Personal achievement
- Challenges: Academic writing
- Year of Graduation: 2021
With over 20 years in the IT industry, Jamie Norris, IT Senior Security Consultant, has worked at Westpac for over 7 years in transformation and security.
After seeing many of his senior colleagues’ careers catapult after completing their MBA, Jamie was keen to emulate their success and embark on his own MBA journey specialising in Entrepreneurial Management.
Like many before they started, Jamie was nervous, or in his words ‘terrified’, and unsure of what he signed up for. But he pushed that self-doubt aside and found that he was more than capable.
In this interview, Jamie shares his motivation behind starting an MBA but also candidly discusses a much-needed dialogue around dyslexia – from what it was like to study with dyslexia, tools to overcome writing challenges and the stigma that still unnecessarily exists today.
Jamie has not only adapted and overcome his apprehension towards writing, but achieved a few very proud distinctions along the way. He is living proof that with a bit of hard work and perseverance, nothing is out of reach.
Why did you start your MBA?
I’ve heard so much about MBAs, I’d seen senior managers at Westpac do their MBA and saw their career progression. So, I thought, let’s give that a go. I just signed up, I just did it.
Why did you specialise?
Originally, I was going to do a general MBA, but then halfway through looking at the electives, I thought Entrepreneurial Management looks really good. The specialisation subjects looked really good, with real life, lifelong sort of skills you need to understand inside of business, and outside trying to start a business.
Any advice for other studying with dyslexia?
I thought, I’d really struggle a lot more than I did. Writing documents is pretty difficult, even just over email. When you send an email, I sometimes make spelling errors or have missed out on complete words or sentences that I was meant to say, and dyslexia plays into that a lot.
There are a lot of fears of writing big 2,000 – 3,000 Word documents. Grammarly is one of the best tools I use, I found it just solved all my issues. It picks up nearly everything for me. I actually use it for work now, creating documents or in emails because unlike word, it picks up, the difference between ‘there’ and ‘their’ and ‘they’re’, for example. I know the difference, but my brain doesn’t when I’m typing away. It’s really helped me alleviate the writing part.
But you know, we actually have great skills, I have great problem-solving skills, that’s my real strength. So, you’ll see that you use your skills in different ways during the MBA.
Is there still a stigma around dyslexia?
Absolutely and it’s not talked about, that’s the problem. In the workplace, it’s not seen, you know, I don’t have a label on it, and I don’t go around announcing – I’ve got dyslexia. But it’s visible when I’m writing on a whiteboard, or when I’m trying to type something and someone is looking over my shoulder, obviously, it’s quite visible then.
So, there is some stigma. I had it in my career where people made comments and laughed at something because I’d written something incorrectly on the board. I had a client once, who even wrote to the Director of the company and said, ‘what’s going on with this document, there are mistakes, we don’t want him on our account anymore’. So, you suffer a lot through that, but you’ve got to just take it as a learning curve. Take it on and try not to let it get you down. I think that’s the thing. Try not to let it be a barrier for you or a ceiling. I think that’s one of the best things you can do.
If you look at people like Richard Branson, what he’s done, his career, where he’s gone, and things he’s achieved, all with dyslexia. There are some really smart people out there with learning difficulties, and they do really well, but they just never let dyslexia define who they are, or let that be a ceiling for them. And they’ve accepted their skills and moved on.
If you can look past that, and go ‘you know what, this isn’t going to stop me’. This isn’t going to stop me from doing an MBA, it isn’t going to stop me from progressing up the career chain – Is it there for us to do? Definitely.
Do you attribute any successes to your MBA studies?
I’ve had two different roles, since it started. One, a more senior role. Much more responsibility, working much more closely with the business. And just recently, now turning to the security side as well. Having that in the transformation space and understanding of how transformation in the business change works.
How does it feel to graduate?
It’s been a long way to get to this point. It’s been a year and a half since I graduated but yes, it feels amazing. I can’t wait for Mum back home to see the live stream (of the graduation ceremony) today, back in England. Yes – super proud, super happy.
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