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As a Senior Technology Architect, Everett Burkett hasn’t let anything get in the way of climbing the ranks at Accenture over the past 16 years. Not even the development of an unexpected condition that would change the course of his life.
Joining as an SAP technology consultant in 2005, Everett leads state-of-the-art SAP technology projects for clients that requires staying on top of the latest hardware and cloud technology specifications, and managing the teams responsible for installing, configuring, developing and securing these applications.
Yet, most people Everett works with don’t know that he has Parkinson’s Disease, a degenerative condition that causes tremors, severe muscle pain, difficulty walking, inability to control speaking volume and other discomforts that may not be visible unless very closely observed.
After cycling through neurologists, being placed on the wrong medication and dealing with the stressful uncertainty of tremendous physical changes without a proper diagnosis all during the global impact of COVID, he says it was his colleagues at Accenture that helped him get through this time of need.
“I started with a small tribe of associates and detailed my challenges,” he says. “My Accenture colleagues were wonderfully candid in letting me know that they had noticed or not noticed, which to me was very important. I now discreetly introduce myself to individuals and inform them of my ‘unique ability’ early on in a project, so that everyone is aware that I have certain challenges, but it doesn’t affect overall delivery to our clients.”
Spending more time on the computer while being homebound during the pandemic, he encountered certain difficulties with typing that made it a challenge to respond to virtual conversations in a timely manner.
To help enable his workflow, Everett uses an external keyboard and voice-to-text accommodations that provide some relief, though he notes that there’s plenty of room for improvement in these technologies. Still, he says that work is an essential benchmark of stability for him, which is important.
“I want to reframe my disability as a ‘unique ability.’ I find that my colleagues have a better understanding.” he says. “The positive impact is that it has helped me in my SAP work by understanding the challenges people face when they’re met with new technology and capabilities. I now more readily understand the struggles that end users face.”
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