In the latest edition of MSQ’s Meet the Team series, we chatted with design extraordinaire Anna Gouw, who is a part of the Smarts family. Besides being a wiz at making all their presentations look flawless, Anna will also be taking part in a 5km obstacle challenge to support ADHD UK, a cause close to her heart.
Your role in a sentence
As Smarts Graphic Presentation Designer, I design decks and presentations in PowerPoint, Keynote, Google Slides and sometimes InDesign, to perfectly fit within the brand guidelines of the client, e.g. Johnnie Walker, Zalando, Smirnoff, Bosch, and many more.
Tell us more about your challenge
This is a 5-kilometre obstacle course filled with inflatable obstacles you need to traverse. This year there are new additions such as Beast and ˆ, alongside favourite like The Growler and Temple of Doom. You really need to see it to understand it, so definitely take a look at the Inflatable 5K website. They do events all over the UK so there is sure to be one near you.
Why ADHD UK?
This charity is helping ADHD people in the UK, who struggle with daily life and how ADHD affects them day to day. ADHD is a highly misunderstood and stigmatised disorder and people go undiagnosed for too long, which exacerbates their struggles and can cause long term mental health issues. I got diagnosed with ADHD last year at the age of 30, when I finally decided to go private because the NHS waiting lists are currently as long as nine years in some areas. Getting this diagnosis was such a relief, it explained many of my behaviours that I used to believe were personality flaws. Instead, I now know that my brain is wired differently and the fact that I struggle with things that other people find easy, is not a failing of my character but due to a genuine learning disorder.
How can companies help their neurodivergent employees?
Get educated! There are so many different sides to neurodivergent employees, if you know what works for one person, that doesn’t mean it works for all the others. Many adjustments that are essential to neurodivergent workers are added benefits or a bonus to neurotypical people. Flexible hours, hybrid or remote working, no food or strong smells in the office but a designated area, silent rooms to work in, a designated desk rather than hot desking. All of these take nothing away from neurotypical people except more freedom and flexibility, and greatly improve the working space for those who need it.
One piece of valuable advice to other neurodivergent employees in the corporate world?
You have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. If you are struggling somewhere and need adjustments, the law is on your side. Take your reasonable adjustment request to the appropriate people, or if you don’t know who these are ask someone who might know.
You might also be eligible for government support under Access to Work, at no cost to yourself. Definitely look this up when you can.
What’s the first thing you’ll do post-5km?
Celebrate with the people who are taking part with me! My partner Daniel, and two brilliant friends I made post-diagnosis who are super accepting and like me just the way I am, their support in this challenge means the world.
I hope for a nice and sunny day (fingers crossed Scotland in September will so me a solid here), so afterwards we can relax and maybe grab a terrace and a drink somewhere.
Check out Anna’s fundraising page here for more information and to make a donation.