Written by Clarina Az Zahra Noor, Media Analyst in the Monitoring and Analytics Department
If you saw me sitting on my desk, not far from the iconic red-telephone-box look-alike toilet doors on the third floor, or during the numerous ZOOM calls of the work-from-home period, you would probably never suspect that I have a disability. In fact, too often I have been told that I “do not look disabled enough” in photographs, leading me to even wonder whether my spastic cerebral palsy is that much of a big deal. But the reality is, it has had a profound impact on my life since my infancy and yet, I would not have it any other way.
I am just a naturally determined and pretty resilient person, and I think that is the result of growing up with a disability as well. I have been raised to not let my disability stop me from doing whatever I wanted to do. I feel and am just like any ordinary person; the only difference being that my body does not work the same way as that of an able-bodied person.
After having successfully defended my thesis with merit three years ago, I immediately started my job hunt. Rejections came dozens of time but my persistence eventually paid off. Maverick took the chance of trying out something different, employing someone different. The little experience I had in media monitoring, landed me a job in the company’s Media & Analytics Division, one which came with an unusual working hours; from 6 AM to 3 PM.
The day I signed my probation contract, M&A Director Felicia told me that I was the management’s first disabled hire. Yay…. I was elated at finally getting my first ever work experience, after being rejected so many times elsewhere. However, the first concern expressed by Mbak Felicia after we finished the first interview session at the office, was not of a professional nature. She asked me whether I was okay with stairs. My work station at Maverick was on the third floor and the building did not have an escalator, or a lift. I over-confidently and over-excitedly replied “no problem, Mbak” without even having seen the two flights of two-meter wide floating stairs, that thankfully, came with railings.
To truth is, the trip to and from the front gate to the M&A floor on the third floor, had never been easy for me. Even up until my last day at the office a few days ago. I still remember how in my first month at Maverick, I had to catch my breath after going up the spine-tingling stairs every morning. Just like after a strenuous exercise, I always had to down half of my one-liter pink Smiggle water bottle that I brought from home, after reaching the third floor. But all the sweating and panting quickly dissipated in the face of the cheerfulness of the other M&A team members that always greeted me so early in the morning.
Reflecting on my first day at work, it was definitively one of the most memorable days of my time at Maverick. After wrapping up the day, I was given a tour of the three-story building and was introduced to everyone there by the one and only Mbak Felicia. At first, I was worried that it was only Mbak Felicia who saw something and believed in me. But my anxiety proved totally unfounded because everyone was very open and happy for me to contribute as much as I wanted to. This instantly made me feel comfortable and definitely made me feel part of the team.
Right after my orientation days were over, I was entrusted with this giant brand, one which has been known as being one of the most demanding clients that Maverick has ever had. I admit that during the first month, I felt overwhelmed by the work and the responsibilities that were placed on me, but with the help of my seniors and my supervisor, I felt more confident and supported, as I knew that my work would still be double checked and any uncertainty cleared.
By observing and learning from every person at Maverick, I managed to pick up tips and learned different types of skills, from how to communicate and deal with clients, to analyzing different types of news articles. Another valuable lesson that I learned through experience and observation while in Maverick, is that the media plays a very important role in building a society, and that situations can change very quickly and dramatically. Hence, media savviness is crucial in the Public Relations industry.
With only four months as a MavChick, I was also given the chance to join the company‘s annual outing to Penang, Malaysia. It was my first international trip without my parents. We visited so many amazing places and tried a variety of late-night street foods. I was super grateful that there had always been someone who checked on me during the trip. I must say that it was one of the most memorable traveling experiences I ever had.
Writing this blog made me realize how blessed I have been, for every opportunity, trust, and kindness that everyone at Maverick (including the blue gang – the cleaning crew: Pak Sam, Pak Ratman, Mas Lani and the black gang – the security crew: Mas Arbin, Pak Adi, Pak Mario) had given and shown me. It has just come to my attention that I had never been pigeonholed. Everyone has been very encouraging in fostering my professional development and I was given every opportunity to try out different roles. Everyone was not afraid of letting me handle clients up front and was proud to have me there; that generated a very nice feeling in me.
I also did gain a wide range of skills and attributes from this work experience, the most significant being gaining confidence. Having a disability can feel challenging, even overwhelming, at times. The thought of meeting new people had initially sounded terrifying for me but, as I got to meet various kinds of people at Maverick, my confidence level grew and meeting new people became enjoyable. Learning to work with others has also developed my teamwork skills, something I deem essential for any job in the future.
Each day at Maverick had given me a purpose. I know that may sounds a bit cliche, but it is really important for everyone to have that purpose, of having something to do, each day. I was in a really happy space in my three years at Maverick.
So, there it is. A tiny glimpse into my three-year journey at Maverick. I would like to give a massive thank you to every MavChick and MavBro for all the sweet memories. Special shoutouts to Mbak Felicia, Ong, Mbak Lita and the M&A team for such a warm welcome since the very first day. I will see you guys soon!