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Case Study – Manufacturing Management (FD) and Mobility Difficulties

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Three Case studies of Managers with disabilites affecting mobility. Although not specific manufacturing management case settings, these case studies address issues relating to mobility and management in general.


Case A

This information has been extracted from: Being in Management as a Disabled Person, The ADP Employment Series:

Alice Maynard Lupton has been the Disability Strategy Manager at Railtrack for a year and she is an electric wheelchair user.

“My brief is to develop and implement a strategy to make the rail network accessible to disabled people. I build links in the industry, and with local authorities and disability organisations, to achieve this.

I took a degree at York University. I went straight from this into a graduate trainee programme. Becoming a manager was a natural career progression. All subsequent training was ‘on the job’ until I felt that I was not making progress in my career. I decided to take an MBA. I had to leave my job in order to do this. The company I worked for when I left to take my MBA was not paying me at similar rates to my peers, and that was one reason for my decision to leave.

I am trying to get more personal assistance for the substantial amount of travel I need to do in my job. There seems to be a reluctance to talk to me about these issues, and to use PACT (now Disability Service Team) provision. I have limited physical energy and functionality, and management allows me to achieve without having to ‘do it all myself’. I need a job requiring more brain than body power, and management enables me to have this. There are issues about being taken seriously, which is a disadvantage. Being a woman, and looking younger than my age has added to this. People view me through a filter of stereotypes, rather than engaging with what and who I am.

There’s also the equivalent problem of my own internalised oppression, and this can cause me to believe that I am less effective than everyone else. That’s why I chase after qualifications – to prove my abilities. I often have to make myself compare myself objectively with my peers to see that I am as good as, if not better than, they are in many respects. My advice to a disabled person who wants to become a manager is learn to evaluate yourself realistically. Take every opportunity for self-development, and project yourself. ‘Blow your own trumpet’ at work – especially difficult for women – because nobody else will. Give others credit where it’s due. That’s good management, and it will free them up to give you credit when it’s due to you.”


Case B

This information has been extracted from: Being in Management as a Disabled Person, The ADP Employment Series:

Douglas is a Wheelchair user.  Douglas Campbell has been the Executive Director of the Disabled Drivers’ Association for three years.

“We have eight staff. I have responsibility for committee servicing, member servicing and virtually everything else. I got fed up with running my own business and the uncertainty of income. I’d been a member of the Disabled Drivers Association for 20 something years. I thought, “why not get paid to do what you like doing?” I drifted into management. I had no formal training other than the odd half day refresher courses. At the moment, I am doing the Open University Business Course for Professional and Voluntary Sector Management, to give me some skills on paper.

I like the job most of the time, and it gives me a regular income. There are advantages with working with only disabled people. I don’t think that there are any particular disability management qualities. Being the manager, you have a bit more flexibility, but not in terms of being able to pace yourself on a bad day. Many managers work horrendous hours. I find it extremely difficult to be equal with an able bodied person in the same job, in terms of having the same stamina. I have to stay overnight somewhere, whereas someone else may drive back and get home at one o’clock in the morning. You’ll only become a manager if you could have done it without a disability. You’ve got to have the same skills, the same drive, the same abilities. You’ve got to have the will to learn the job and get the skills needed – that needn’t necessarily mean you have to be academic. I think a manager needs to understand the job that his colleagues do.”


Case C

This information has been extracted from: Being in Management as a Disabled Person, The ADP Employment Series:

Harjinder Singh has been the Information Technology (IT) Manager for Bradford Careers for over three years. He is a wheel chair user and with cerebal palsy.

“I became IT manager because the organisation needed somebody with the technical ability to oversee the IT services. I look after our computer network and telecommunications. I started at DIAL as a computer operator, then I got the job as an advisory supervisor at Centrepoint. Eventually I became the manager of Centrepoint. When I was seconded to the Careers Service they had to make adjustments because where we were based was inaccessible. I was based somewhere else at first. Even now we have some occasions where it’s impossible to do the job. We try to get work with more control from this room rather than visiting inaccessible places. There are always things I won’t be able to do because of my impairment. I don’t use any adaptations – the adjustments are in terms of how you relate to other people. I do have a mobile telephone, originally through Access to Work, but now it’s owned by the company.

I have a degree. I have no formal qualifications in terms of becoming a manager. I spent a year in the voluntary sector with DIAL and other disability organisations. That was a good plan. If you’ve got no job and for years you sit at home it’s not ideal for anybody, even the non-disabled. You have to accept you never walk into a job. I learnt a lot about IT and about managerial tasks. It means taking your chances and making a go of it. You’ve got to want to do it.

Management is one way you can prove you’ve achieved something. You can make changes in how other people think. You rarely have the chance to make life better for others. That’s one of the key advantages in becoming a manager, saying this is how I think it should be done and making the changes. You have to have that ability to compromise on your principals. When I went to the Careers Service I could have said I won’t accept that – working in another location for an organisation. I struggled on, and now the Careers Service is a more open place. You’re making it easier for yourself and other people to get into the building. There’s always relations within the team with regard to good management and poor management and how you interact with those. That can have its advantages and disadvantages. If you don’t handle it properly it becomes a major problem. Stick to your guns. If you want to become a manager, go for it. It’s hard, but nothing in life is going to be easy anyway. If you want to become a manager, nothing stops you as a disabled person from doing that. Obviously there are structural or technical problems. And in an organisation that’s never had a disabled person, you can get attitude problems. All those can be overcome. There is a big high becoming a manager it’s how you manage all those lows.

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