A Stuttering Start

As a graduate working at SAP in the UKI marketing department, there was always going to be challenges to face. Like most graduates, I have faced them with grit and determination. The title above gives a deeper insight into the other challenge I face every day.

Growing up with a speech impediment has been a challenge within itself but one I have handled with patience and a smile.

Having a speech impediment is different in the business world than the personal one. Before I was hired by SAP I was turned down for a position because of my speech difficulties. Terms such as “a better communicator is required” were used to explain my rejection for the position. However, it was clear to me what the reasoning was. I have been and will be rejected from positions in the future, which is something everyone must deal with in the business world. But to be told I could not do a role for a reason that was not only out of my control but also an incorrect reason was hard to take. Over time, I learned that you can’t let situations like these keep you down, which was is an important finding for me.

Communication skills come in a variety of ways

Anyone who knows me well personally or professionally is aware that my communication is adequate. Some would even venture to say I can over-communicate, to word it in a more pleasant way. Factors like meeting people become so much more important in the business world; you are placed into situations where opting out because you are uncomfortable or nervous develop into situations that you must take on regardless of your insecurities.

How do people react in meetings, for example, when I start stuttering? Generally, in the work environment people are polite and won’t address it directly. Colleagues are very patient and understanding.

How did I overcome these difficulties? I would say there are two main factors that come into play when facing these challenges in the business world. The first is a good support around you. I am fortunate to work within a team here at SAP that allows me to feel relaxed and free and talk freely around the office, even if they don’t want to hear it.

I look back on my interview with SAP and deciding to mention my speech impediment at the end of the interview. I highlighted the fact I was willing to present and was immediately told that this is something we do quite often. From day one I was asked to present and I was delighted to know that I would be treated just like anyone else in the team. Even though these situations were quite uncomfortable in the beginning, I learned to deal with it and I did.

The other factor is belief in oneself. You can have all the people in the world telling you that you deserve to be somewhere but if you don’t believe it yourself you will never reach your best.

I live by the notion that “The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power.” Whatever difficulties you face will teach you a valuable lesson to take onto the next problem. This philosophy has served me well. I will start again with my speech therapy, which is also supported by my manager. Until my graduate contract ends, I want to become the best version of me. I want to use my current role to learn everything that I can learn.

I wrote this piece for awareness to both employee and employer. Please don’t judge someone with a speech impediment; our brains work the same, we just take a little longer to get our brilliant ideas out! To those next in line, when reading a job description seeing “good communication skills,” apply anyway. Let the employer make the decision on your communication skills — don’t doubt yourself before you’ve even started. Don’t assume that people think bad of you. Communication skills come in a variety of ways. If yours is different, don’t worry.

Callum Stein is a junior marketing campaign manager for SAP UKI Marketing.