Neurodiversity Panel at Sydney Tech Leaders

Last night Xceptional’s Mike Tozer spoke at Sydney Tech Leaders.

Yesterday, Xceptional’s Mike Tozer spoke at the Sydney Technology Leaders meetup. Here are his thoughts from the evening.

I’m still buzzing after last night’s #SydTechLeaders meetup! It was really exciting to see how many people were interested in the topic of neurodiversity. There were around 100 people including passionate advocates and also others engaging the issue for the first time.

One person told me afterwards that he’d never thought about neurodiversity before, so it was great to be able to get them and others thinking outside the box!

Alongside myself, there were 3 other speakers – all women, so hats off to the organisers for an impressive gender diversity.

I learnt heaps from the other panelists. Sera Prince McGill, from Finder, shared about her own experience of neurodiverse interactions in the workplace. I especially enjoyed how she replaced real characters in her story with superheroes to mask their identity!

She also recommended a book I’d heard of but not read – a mystery novel about an autistic boy called “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”. It has now jumped up my reading list and a friend is lending me a copy next week. Can’t wait to get started!

One of the highlights of the night for me was hearing the work that Anna Kelk, Product Manager at Seek has been doing. She is part of a team at Seek that recently won a hackathon for their ideas around building neurodiverse tools for candidates and employers.

We also heard from Cath Jones from Rhombico. I really appreciated her presentation, and especially her slidedeck. She had some clear stats about Neurodiversity as well as practical takeaways.

One image that Cath shared I had not seen before. I’ve included it below (with credit to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation). It clearly demonstrates the difference between equality and equity. This was a really helpful way of describing something that a lot of our clients are grappling with right now: how to adapt your processes without giving an unintentional advantage.

A really interesting panel discussion ended the night. At one stage we were discussing how to handle the challenges of neurodiversity and how much is it going to cost an employer. But then the conversation shifted to us asking what is the extraordinary value of the people we are missing out? How much value could these unique minds bring to our workforce? It was a great way to end a great night!

Thanks to Ted, Owen, Kris and David for inviting me and for putting on the event – and to Neville Harrison, Xceptional advisor, for joining me and taking photos.


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