Siobhan Foley
Global Strategic Partnership Lead, Global Mobility, Sydney, Australia
April 05, 2019

My Beautiful Life and Daughter with Asperger Syndrome

Siobhan Foley's Family

Balancing a high-level career and parenthood is challenging for anyone; it can be even more so for parents of children with special needs.

The key is to find an employer that values you as your true, authentic self and provides a work environment with the flexibility to balance your personal and professional lives.

As a wife and mother to two amazing daughters—one with autism and one with teenage attitude—and a Global Strategic Partnership Lead, I’m glad to have found that supportive work culture at Accenture.

Sobhan Foley's Beautiful Daughters My beautiful daughters

I wouldn’t change a thing
My husband and I have two amazing and totally different daughters, one who attends a selective sports high school for dance, and our oldest, who is on an academic scholarship. She has a form of Autism Spectrum Disorder known as Asperger Syndrome.

Two of the characteristics of Asperger’s is difficulty with “executive functioning” (your internal secretary) and anxiety.

That means that often, we don’t make the bus in the morning because we cannot get out of the house on time. Then I can’t get to the train—and I have to avoid showing stress, as this will impact my daughter's anxiety. Sometimes by 9 a.m., I feel like I’ve run a marathon.

I would not change a thing.

Having a daughter with Asperger’s is a gift. My daughter is kind, brilliant, funny and edgy, and every day, she makes me want to be a better person. But sometimes, she is also anxious, scared and confused.

Emotionally, it can be tough for many reasons. It’s tough because you want to take the pain away from your child when they are anxious or depressed. It’s tough because you are always juggling—and sometimes dropping—balls.

It’s tough because you want to do a good job, a great job, as a parent and at work but you have days where you have to drive to school—again—to pick your daughter up because she’s not having a good day. It’s tough because you are exhausted. It’s tough because you wonder if you are doing the right thing all the time.

I found my tribe at Accenture
I’ve always believed that life is a bit of a journey and that everything we do will one day come full circle. Before I got married, I decided I would look for a new role when I returned from my honeymoon. I took a “conferencing” contract at Accenture.

At the end of this contract, I thought, “I will take any position to stay at this company.” I found my tribe. Fortunately, I was offered an event role in the Australia/New Zealand region, and now, 20 years later, I’ve recently moved into a new shared role as the Global Strategic Partnership Lead in the Global Mobility Organization. And in my “spare” time, I’m currently working toward a Master’s degree in Autism.

The biggest reason I’ve stayed at Accenture for so many years?

The people. The flexibility and work-life balance and the ever-changing and challenging work are great, but it’s really all about the people.

Mutual trust
I make it all work with a mutual trust with my Accenture leaders and team. I love that I can manage how I work with complete trust, be that in flexible hours or flexible locations.

I think Accenture allows us to be Truly Human. We can be high-performing individuals with disabled children. We can be high-performing individuals with disabilities ourselves. We don’t have to give up on our drive or ambition or what makes us who we are at our professional core, just because of our personal situations.

While at times, I do have to drop off calls or make alternative arrangements to take care of my daughters, in most instances, I get to give the best of myself at work and at home. I am grateful that I get to “have it all,” so to speak (except sleep—but I’m working on that).

The importance of sharing my story
I want people to know that my daughter’s disability does reflect who I am. The universe gifted me with this incredible child who has some exceptional abilities, and sharing my story has not just empowered me, but also hopefully helped others.

Most of all, I share my story for purely selfish reasons. I want my daughter to get a job at a company like Accenture, which is actively changing their recruitment strategies, events and workspaces to ensure they support people with disabilities. I want to spread the word.

I want everyone to know that showing vulnerability is not a bad thing. I want people to know they are not alone. I want the world to know that when you let people bring their whole selves to work, you get the best of them.

Mostly, I’m just so proud of my beautiful, brave child, and I want the world to get a little easier for children like her.

Be who you are and change the world with the work you do every day. Find your fit with Accenture.

This post includes excerpts from Siobhan Foley’s blog posts, “What it feels like to care for my daughter with Asperger Syndrome and how Accenture supports this role” and “Why I want to talk about my child’s disability.”

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