Employee case study – IBM

Autistic employee – Anthony Birley

Until 2019, I was working for IBM in the UK, on their graduate scheme, in a Technical Solution Manager role. My role was focused on producing and designing solutions – cost models, contract documents, tender responses and more. I would help produce the proposals that would be put in front of customers (other companies in the public, private and third sectors). It was specific to digital workplace solutions, which included device management (managing work iPhones, Android devices, tablets, etc., for other companies’ employees), collaborative tools (e.g. Microsoft Office and Skype for Business), remote access tools, smart printing solutions and more.

After completing the graduate scheme I took a Leave of Absence from IBM in 2019 to complete a full-time Masters degree at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). The degree, in LSE’s Department of Management, was an MSc in Management of Information Systems and Digital Innovation (MISDI). I returned to IBM in January 2021 having successfully graduated with a Masters.

The experience of an industrial placement with IBM while at university led to Anthony seeking a permanent role

My route to my role started when I was completing my undergraduate degree at City, University of London. Between my second and third years I earned a place on IBM’s university (industrial) placement scheme, completing a 1-year paid role in IBM’s cloud business. It was during this time that I realised I wanted to continue working for IBM and as I was finishing the placement I applied for IBM’s graduate scheme. I earned a place on it a few months later.

On telling employers about his autism diagnosis

When applying for roles, I have personally been somewhat reluctant to describe my autism diagnosis. I have always wanted to earn my achievements based on my skills, knowledge and capabilities alone, comparable to other applicants and not because of any adjustment or sympathy based on any diagnoses.

To one assessment centre organiser for the placement scheme, I did mention about my diagnosis so assessors could be aware. However, there were no adjustments made at any stages, in comparison to others, for any application processes, for either role or degrees. All stages were the same for all applicants.

I did, however, mention in my written applications about my diagnosis. I explained how it had provided me with specific skills and knowledge. Furthermore, it could allow interviewers and potential ma