I'm Dyslexic and work in project management ... you can too!

Lydia Davies

Senior Project Manager

Dyslexia and Project Management, two words you wouldn't usually see in the same sentence. Well, here I am an unapologetically dyslexic person working in a fast-paced digital agency as a Project Manager.

Let's talk a little about my role at iCrossing. I am a Digital Project Manager and I work specifically within the Product Team. We work primarily with technical product development and website creation. My days are centered around enabling the implementation and delivery of projects throughout the project life cycle whilst working with a lovely bunch of people. 

Early in my career I had an ongoing internal battle of how much of my dyslexia I should disclose to my employer and initially I didn't. As a graduate, it was tough enough to get a job, let alone disclosing what I considered a weakness.

I wasn't diagnosed with Dyslexia until my last year of High School and even then, it was a struggle to get a diagnosis. Don’t get me wrong, getting the diagnosis was a relief but it was just the start of my journey of trying to navigate my life as someone who is Neurodivergent – a term which only recently has started to roll off our tongues, well kind of... 

For the first few jobs that I had, I was embarrassed to say anything, and I would just laugh off the fact that someone had to tell me a telephone number 5 times for me to remember it or if I'd send an email containing paragraphs that could only resemble a badly written riddle. It was a little grey cloud that followed me around, it was always something I was very aware of and conscious about - it wasn't funny, it was exhausting. As time went on, and as I navigated through various different roles to find where I fitted in the working world, it became harder and harder to hide it. 

It wasn't until my late 20’s that I began to make peace with it. I changed my mindset, instead of seeing it as a weakness I started to figure out how I could make it work for me. From this point onwards, I started to openly discuss my dyslexia. Instead of beating myself up about it and getting frustrated, I thought, okay my brain doesn't work in the ‘normal’ way, but that's okay. Never underestimate the power of acceptance, friends!

It's important for me to mention here that this mindset shift didn't happen overnight, it was a long road to get here, but I'm so glad I stuck with it. I started to develop coping mechanisms on how to deal with it and more importantly to build the confidence to be transparent about it. I started to openly discuss my dyslexia with my managers and teams, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted. I no longer had to explain why I needed emails proofread or why I would need things explained to me multiple times or why my meeting notes didn't make sense to anyone else. 

In the last few years, it feels like there has been a shift in society on how neurodivergent folks are viewed and treated in the workplace. Instead of pressuring people to work a certain way, employers are embracing the skills that dyslexic and other neurodivergent people bring. We are now seen as the creative powerhouses, the authentic out of the box thinkers and the culture creators - I am 100% here for it! Never feel like you can't be honest about your neurodivergent superpowers, be your own cheerleader.

Top tips from a dyslexic project manager: 
  • Be transparent from the start. As uncomfortable as it might be for you, have an open and honest conversation with your employer. Let them know how they can support you to let you thrive. 

  • Have two notebooks: one for your ‘to do list’ and one for your general notes. Having a separate ‘to do list’ will help you to plan your time and keep you on track.

  • Explore using a transcribing app for meeting notes - game changer! 

  • Don't be afraid to say if you are having a challenging day.

  • Set your boundaries. Be confident to voice when you need support.

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