On Ability vs. Disability: Working with Epilepsy

by Charlotte.Copeman

charlyToday is a really important day for me for two reasons:

1. This week, I will celebrate the anniversary of my first year at Kaltura!

2. Today is Global Epilepsy Awareness Day.

 

To many of my friends and colleagues, it will come as a surprise that I have epilepsy. It’s not something that I shout about for a number of reasons. Disability in the workplace is still not where it should be. Even the word “disabled” suggests that others can do something that I can’t. In my case, it’s quite the opposite.

I was diagnosed with epilepsy five years ago and as someone who is incredibly career focused, it came as a huge shock to me and filled me with apprehension. I had serious concerns about how I could continue to achieve, continue to focus on my career, which I love, and how other people would react to me in the workplace. Even as I write this article, I feel nervous about my customers and the wider business community finding out that I have epilepsy and judging me by this. But why should I? This has been the year where my career and success has rocketed more than I ever could have imagined, and within one year, I’ve been promoted to Director of Strategic Accounts.

epilepsy-ribbon_1When I was first contacted by Kaltura about an open position they had in their London office I was really excited. The role was for the first Account Manager outside of the US. I would be working in a new team with a stack of new customers, many of them huge global companies, who would require a high level of dedication and commitment. The role would mean quite a lot of travel throughout the UK and Europe plus trips to the US and Israel to work with colleagues. It provided the successful candidate an opportunity to really make a mark and to be part of a team that would make a huge impact in EMEA. I wanted to be part of that team.

During my interview process, I was honest about having epilepsy and about my need to have flexibility in the workplace. Some days I could work from the office, others I would need to work from home. When I told senior management that I had epilepsy, their response was “Ok. Tell me what we’ll need to do to accommodate that”. That was it. It’s the most incredible, positive response I have ever received when telling someone I have epilepsy.

When an employer supports you 100% in your lifestyle, needs and goals, the commitment and drive that is instilled in you can’t help but encourage you to succeed. I’ve achieved an incredible amount during the last year and my drive and commitment has been supported and encouraged by all of my managers and colleagues at Kaltura. There isn’t another place in the world that I would rather work than Kaltura.


Kaltura’s approach to ‘disability’ is to focus on your ability. Because of their flexible working approach, their enthusiasm in embracing and supporting achievement and their support of diversity, you have every opportunity to succeed here. For me, epilepsy hasn’t hindered me, it’s made me more determined to succeed and prove to everyone that it hasn’t affected my ability in any way.

Other companies should take note of Kaltura’s example. They are exactly the kind of company that we should be highlighting on Epilepsy Awareness Day, and every day thereafter.

Now I’m off to celebrate my one year anniversary as a Kalturian!

 

2 Comments to “On Ability vs. Disability: Working with Epilepsy”

  1. Muzeltov, to you, the management team, the wider Kaltura team but most of all for all of the above for nurturing an environment that delivers an amazing product with whatever quality or obstacle may be in the way.

    Both you (Charly) , and Kaltura, remind me of the famous quote from the “Last Lecture by Randy Pausch”

    “Brick walls are there to show how much we want things.”….”The walls are there to stop weak desires and other people.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo

    Watch it, it summarises you as a person and the business you snd your colleagues have created,…..And yes, I do get the irony that it’sa Youtube and not a Kaltura link:)

  2. Congrats! It is a pleasure working with you.

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