Reimagining and rebuilding a career in tech

Many of us are likely to develop access needs due to unforeseen health setbacks at some point in our lives, and while this can cause a knock to our self-confidence in the short term, with the right support and opportunity, we can reimagine what we are capable of and rebuild new and wonderful professional career pathways. Read Duncan’s story to learn more about how he worked with Be. Lab’s Talent Shop to rediscover his strengths and pursue a career that is more fulfilling than ever.

A picture of Duncan smiling next to a quote by him saying: "The multi-pronged approach of the Talent Shop goes far beyond just a basic recruitment service. Developing my skills and having access to a personal mentor was invaluable.”

Duncan Sharples is a creative and dedicated tech analyst with notable experience at leading organisations such as Vodafone, TelstraClear and Infosys. He is also a passionate writer, working on a novel in his spare time. Writing is Duncan’s creative outlet, with a particular passion for science fiction, fantasy and satire genres (which when combined, “makes for some entertaining reading!”, he laughs).

Unexpected events

At the beginning of 2018 however, Duncan was faced with a couple of curve balls, both professionally and personally, that impacted his relatively smooth-sailing career to date.  

It started with a redundancy from his job of four years in mid-2018. Then a few months later, triggered by the stress of this experience, Duncan also suffered a major stroke.

The combination of the physical and mental toll following this series of events unsurprisingly had an impact on Duncan’s self-confidence. And he was faced with the challenge of balancing rest and recovery with a desire to get back out there to a career he loved. 

Upskilling and pivoting

Knowing that exercising the brain is vital to stroke recovery, Duncan saw an opportunity to delve into his passion for writing while he took some time out from his more demanding technical services career. After completing a technical writing course and two copy writing courses, Duncan secured some freelance writing gigs, offering flexibility during his recovery whilst also keeping his mind active.  

When he felt ready, Duncan also upskilled in his core area of expertise by completing two Microsoft data analysis courses. It was through one of the Microsoft courses that Duncan learned about Be. Lab’s employment programme which matches talented New Zealanders with health conditions or access needs with meaningful employment in the career of their choice. As someone intentional about growth and development, it was the professional development and mentoring aspect that really stood out to him as an invaluable part of the service.

Rebuilding a meaningful career

After connecting with the Talent team at Be. Lab and going through the recruitment assessment process, Duncan was offered a place on the programme.

The first stage of the programme involved a full day professional development workshop with other talented candidates across the country, facilitated by Be. Lab, Capability Group and Microsoft.  

“It was a great experience,” says Duncan. “the multi-pronged approach of the Talent Shop went far beyond just a basic recruitment service. Developing my skills and having access to a personal mentor was invaluable.”

The Be. Lab team then worked with Duncan to fine tune his CV and provided special coaching for job interviews. More importantly, they encouraged him to be open and confident about his situation and to focus on his strengths. Duncan’s resilience and flexibility which enabled him to pivot in difficult circumstances are some of the top qualities forward-thinking employers are looking for in today’s world.

“Be. Lab gave me the confidence to really put myself out there”, says Duncan.  

After a few months Duncan was offered not one, but two technical services roles at different organisations, so he was able to choose the one that was more suited to his expertise, experience and values – as Technical Officer in the housing division at the Ministry of Social Development (MSD). Not only does he find this position deeply rewarding, Duncan is also working towards a career path in Report Writing at MSD, a job that would combine his technical ability and love of writing.

Duncan says he is happier today than he has ever been. While he has faced challenges over the past couple of years, the journey has brought out his innate strengths, and a renewed self-confidence highlights the enormous value he brings to his work and wider community.

Reflecting on his experience with the Talent Shop Duncan says, “Be. Lab gave me direction and the tools I needed to get to where I wanted to go. With their support, I was able to rediscover my self-confidence and land a job that I love”.

Be. Lab's Talent Shop matches talented individuals with access needs or health conditions to meaningful roles with leading employers across New Zealand.

Learn more about the programme and apply here.


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