London, 1990. On my daily morning walk to Green Park underground station a striking image always caught my eye along the way. Through the lace curtains of a Victorian house I would glimpse a middle-aged woman writing on her computer. I imagined her telling stories, as I myself hoped to do, one day, from my own home. I’d just finished my degree and, like so many youngsters, I’d gone off to England to master at last the language I’d been studying for ages but still didn’t really speak or understand properly.
Nearly a year later I left an unforgettable city to begin my working career in my own language and my own country. Back then the world was still an open book. Youth and rude health saw me through the daily challenge of meeting tight deadlines, working almost round the clock, constantly nipping here and there and even taking the steps two by two up the endless staircase connecting the office block Torre Picasso with the shopping mall Moda Shopping to pick up my motorbike for my homeward journey. It was a long, fifteen-year period of employment in which I’d never heard of inflammatory outbreaks or synthetic biology drugs, not to speak of the antigen HLA-B27, a necessary but not sufficient condition of the autoimmune disease I now suffer from.
Neither had I heard of Enron, the company whose 2002 bankruptcy shook up, among other things, the status quo of Deloitte, where I was working at that time. Together with the company’s president, one year earlier, I had watched aghast the harrowing TV scenes of the two airplanes flying into the Twin Towers, first one, then the other. Both collapsing towers marked our epoch for good, just as the Enron debacle took down its accounting firm Arthur Anderson, trimming the Big Five accounting firms to four. We were also reminded of just how fragile and fleeting even the most colossal skyscraper might turn out to be, or one of USA’s biggest firms … or life itself. These unforeseeable events, after years of working under the aegis and guidance of companies and professionals, prompted me to fulfil my dream of telling my own stories.
The arrival in Spain of Mexico’s top technology firm, consolidation of the government’s only association of ICT executives, Europe’s first Disability Congress held in Madrid… these were some of the stories I covered as a freelance writer. For another fifteen years this freelance status of mine enabled me to reconcile my daily work with a debilitating and challenging autoimmune disease that set in only a few months after paying my first social security contribution. For that very reason, in GMV’s Diversity Awareness Raising Day, I identified perfectly with the athlete Eduardo Carrera when he talked about his difficulty in accepting his new disabled condition. Accepting that your body is no longer capable of keeping up with your overweening mind calls for a disciplined training regime, in my case self-taught, and this is still a daily challenge fourteen years after the diagnosis. My new situation, like that of more people than we might imagine, means adapting the work to the fluctuating capabilities of a body whose own defenses are constantly turning against it.
At my present age of 48, with a 44% degree of disability, I could by now imagine no other manner besides self-employment of reconciling my autoimmune disease with a daily work regime. At that time GMV and I were barely on nodding terms. During a couple of years of collaborating with the firm I came across a Group of Vibrant Minds, grown from a seminal idea 36 years ago and by now developed into a remarkable, diversity-rich group driven by humaneness, talent and an overriding sense of fairness.
Today I no longer commute on a motorbike; neither do I have to scale sweeping staircases to get to work. My company ensures the working environment is accessible, diverse and inclusive. I could go on about the Alianza #CEOPorLaDiversidad (#CEOs for Diversity Alliance) of which GMV is a member, or about its equal-opportunity strategy and the charitable organizations it collaborates with (ONCE Foundation, Adecco Foundation, Women for Africa…) or the fact that over 24% of the staff are women in a hitherto male-dominated sector. But I’ve preferred to tell my own story. After all, it’s a story that now forms part of the company’s own rich history, a company whose flexible and adaptable outlook now allows me, five years after we got to know each other, to write this and many other stories.
Author: Maole Cerezo
Las opiniones vertidas por el autor son enteramente suyas y no siempre representan la opinión de GMV
The author’s views are entirely his own and may not reflect the views of GMV