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"Standard Chartered is a great place to work, providing excellent support and development for all."

Switchboard Operator,
London Switchboard, UK

What's your background?
I came to England in 1970 because there were no schools for visually impaired children in my home country, Kenya. After seven years at boarding school, my vision deteriorated and I went to the Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford to learn how to use Braille and mobility skills. In 1981 I came to London to do a business studies diploma at Kingsway College. After completing my studies, I worked for a fashion company, NatWest Bank, the Bank of England, the BBC and Halifax before joining Standard Chartered.

What's it like to work at Standard Chartered?
Standard Chartered is very diverse and very positive in its outlook. I enjoy my time here. It's a great place, very vibrant and everybody is so accessible and approachable. 

What do you like best about your job?
Good teamwork and excellent support, particularly from the IT team. Everyone is very understanding and I have a good rapport with bank staff. I enjoy socialising with my colleagues and I attend many of the events run by the sports and social club, such as the Summer Boat Trip on the River Thames, a recent 80s Disco bash and the 3rd annual Great City Race.

Describe a typical day at work
I work on the switchboard at our Clements House office in the City of London, answering, analysing and diagnosing UK and global calls to ascertain callers' needs. It used to be that lots of calls just got put through to the department or person the caller requested, but Standard Chartered has grown so much that you need to understand the business to be able to route calls to the right department, once my computer has been configured to give access to MS Outlook I will also be updating the address list with leavers and joiners and contacting people who are moving departments.,

The switchboard has its own directory which has been fully upgraded for speech translation and Braille display. This equipment was installed by working in partnership with Access to Work, a government scheme that supports disabled people returning to work. When I answer a call I go to the relevant screen in the system by following the speech instructions. I type in the relevant surname to find the extension number I need to transfer the call to. Then the speech translation kicks into the headphones to tell me the number - or I can use the Braille display. When I'm talking to a caller this method doesn't interrupt the conversation and I can find the extension number while I'm still talking to them.

What do you do outside work?
I'm on the management committee for two different charities - Disability in Camden (DISC) and Disability Action in the Borough of Barnet (DABB) and I'm the founder member of a self-help group for blind people called Visually Impaired in Camden, which I set up in 1980 with the local social services sensory impairment team. I also like to keep fit - I cycle a tandem and play blind cricket for the London Sports Club.

What are your plans for the future?
In 2008 Standard Chartered is moving into a larger building in the City of London. I've been asked to oversee the adaptation of the switchboard in the new building for Braille and speech interpretation. I'm also interested in other opportunities to progress my career at Standard Chartered.