I am a Professor of Management, UTS Business School, University of Technology Sydney. I also happen to have a high level spinal cord injury and I use a power wheelchair together with a series of other assistive technologies in the workplace and at home.
At the time of my injury in 1983, I was halfway through a Bachelor of Secondary Education in Physical Education, Science and Mathematics that I was “told” I was not able to complete. I went back to study a BA in leisure, sport and tourism before going on to do a Master of Environmental Planning. In my final year studying and being self employed, I started to apply for full-time jobs with an eye to a career in environmental planning, but with no success. After applying for over 50 jobs, I did get two interviews and was offered a job only to be to be ruled out by an inaccessible workplace.
Eventually I got a two-year contract with University of Technology Sydney as a tutor. This progressed to an ongoing role where I was supported by the organisation, given development opportunities and could see a career path. Subsequently over the next 20 years I was promoted to lecturer, senior lecturer, Associate Prof and I believe the first complete quadriplegic to become a Professor in Australia in 2012.
The most immediate impact of gaining meaningful employment was having some financial independence. As time went on, and I got to know everybody, and establish my networks inside and outside of work, I found myself doing a whole lot of new things with a widened social circle that had been getting smaller since my injury.
Of course, to do any of this I needed a good home base, my health, adequate personal care and support of family and friends.