Hannah Longman: empathy and insight
Structuring information and communicating complex concepts: when her colleagues are still poring over tricky projects, the neurodiverse Londoner often already quite literally has the solution in her mind's eye.
Hannah Longman works as an Audit Remediation Programme Manager in Deutsche Bank’s Technology Infrastructure team in London. She identifies as neurodivergent and says: “Neurodiversity is an integral part of who I am, so it’s part of the reason I’m good at my job.”
Neurodiversity is an integral part of who I am, so it’s part of the reason I’m good at my job.
Currently, that means overseeing delivery and governance of an IT audit finding. “This requires co-ordination, liaison and persuasion to make sure that our activities are prioritised and hit deadlines,” Hannah explains.
Neurodiversity helps me come up with solutions that seem obvious to me - but wouldn’t necessarily be to others.
There are always problems to solve and neurodiversity helps Hannah “come up with solutions that seem obvious to me - but wouldn’t necessarily be to others.” If a colleague is overwhelmed with the number of possibilities while trying to define a governance structure, Hannah can often see the process or framework in her head by applying the framework to the data in front of her. “It feels like helping someone who’s struggling with a jigsaw by showing them the picture on the box.”
It feels like helping someone who’s struggling with a jigsaw by showing them the picture on the box.
Problem-solver, manager, guide
Since joining in 2015, Hannah has held various roles in Technology Infrastructure including managerial positions. “Being neurodivergent gives me a high level of empathy, which I believe makes me a good manager.” And the way Hannah processes information helps her organise information and communicate concepts effectively; a training manual she wrote to help project managers navigate governance processes is widely used.
Neurodiversity is the idea that there are a range of ways our brains can work and that all ways are valid. A 2020 study published in the British Medical Bulletin said that globally as many as 1 in 5 people are neurodivergent, which covers a host of conditions from dyslexia to sensory processing disorder to autism, and lots more in between.
Hannah has “always felt different” but stresses that neurodiversity is not always visible from the outside. “Most people wouldn’t realise that I’m neurodivergent. They don’t see how much harder I find some things than other people, and that I physically experience the world in a different way. For example, I can close a critical audit finding without a problem, but I struggle to work out when it’s my turn to speak in a conversation. Unfortunately, it’s something we don’t talk about enough because we all assume everyone’s brain works the same way as our own.”
Celebrating difference, sparking creativity
Those discussions are slowly becoming more common as businesses continue to explore and embrace neurodiversity. Should companies like Deutsche Bank continue to hire neurodiverse talent? “Yes! There are always positives to embracing people for who they are. Our differences are something to be celebrated, because that’s what sparks creativity, understanding, new ideas, and new ways of working.”
Against all odds: the unusual path to success
Look around you and you will find people all over the world whose unusual ideas or unique talents have led them to success. In our series, we go to Hong Kong, Frankfurt, London and the Rheingau and share with you the stories of Seng Choon Koh, Hannah Longman and Ahmet Yildirim. None of them do things by the book.
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