QBE Principal Technologist Anne Gray explains her autism journey

 June 29, 2023

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Meet QBE European Operations (QBE) Principal Technologist, Anne Gray.

Anne took part in an interview with GAIN (Group for Autism, Insurance, Investment & Neurodiversity) where she shared her journey of being diagnosed with autism, and how diagnosis has helped her to gain a better understanding of herself.

Anne also highlights the importance of mentoring and how having a buddy at work can help with navigating social and work situations. 

"My diagnosis was quite late in life," shares Anne. "I was diagnosed officially in my early 40s and I had gone through really my entire life having no idea at all that I even could be autistic, and I first sort of came across the idea just reading a newspaper article about women with autism and how they were frequently undiagnosed."

"As I went through the newspaper article I recognized more and more things that really chimed with me, and the penny just started to drop. I started researching more things on the internet and again the idea that I could be autistic just became more and more reinforced. I think before I just had a very classic view of autism as somebody who really wasn't able to communicate. I'd always been a creative person and didn't fit that kind of stereotype at all, so the thought that this could be me was quite shocking."

A sense of perpetual alienation 

The more Anne read the article, the more autistic characteristics that she thought were normal, or that everybody experienced, were things that she recognized in herself. 

"This also kind of explained some difficulties that I'd had throughout my life and a sense of perpetual alienation," explains Anne. "So there was a personal realization. I discussed it with other people and discussed it with my husband, and he also recognized a lot of what was in the articles - he saw a lot of it in me. I think it took me about a year to then go and try and get a private diagnosis."

Autism in the workplace

While Anne's autism has some limitations, a lot of the core of what she's good at in her work comes from her being autistic, such as hyper focus pattern recognition, detail, seeing things slightly differently, taking a slightly different slant, problem-solving, and the ability to kind of understand data. 

"I'm a very data-driven person," explains Anne. "Part and parcel of that is autism, and that's where autism has really helped me in the workplace."

"What actually getting diagnosed has done has made me understand where being in the detail isn't necessarily always a good thing, it's helped me to kind of step back. However, it's also enabled me to make partnerships with people who are really good with people, who really understand how to message, who really understand how to communicate, and who are really good at all of those things," explains Anne.

"If I can work and team up with people who've got those skills that I don't have, and I might have skills that they don't have, if I can build good relationships with those people where we can be really authentic, and I don't have to mask with them, then we can have really, really good success."

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