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Neurodiversity and navigating a career in audit

Written by: Ernst & Young LLP (EY UK)
Published on: 18 Mar 2024

Meet Alex Parker (he/him), a technical director in Assurance at EY UK. He leads a transformation project that enhances auditors’ ability to detect fraud. He is also neurodivergent. Learn more about his journey, as well as his tips for navigating a career in Audit as neurodivergent person.  



What is neurodiversity?

Neurodiversity refers to the different ways people think, learn and communicate. It’s an umbrella term that describes a range of different thinking styles including ADHD, Autism, Dyscalculia, Dyslexia and Dyspraxia. It is estimated around one in five people are neurodivergent. 

Neurodivergent people think and see the world differently. Although this can present challenges, it also means they can bring a unique set of talents and strengths to the workplace - whether that’s by fuelling innovation, driving diversity of thought, or by bringing new dimensions of creativity to the way we work.

Alex’s story so far

Alex is a technical director at EY UK, he joined the firm as an Audit senior from a mid-tier firm after obtaining his ACA qualification. Alex worked on a range of audits for Technology and US-inbound businesses before joining the Data & Intelligence Delivery Centre of Excellence, a team that uses data analytics to support the audit process and provide insights to businesses. He now leads a transformation project which enhances auditors’ ability to detect fraud and is responsible for the Digital Degree Apprenticeship programme in Assurance at EY UK. 

Alex identifies as having both Autism and ADHD. 

“Since a young age I always felt different but struggled to explain why. After moving in with my partner during the pandemic I began to explore whether I might be Autistic. After researching and connecting with others through the EY Neurodiversity Community, I realised I also have a lot of ADHD traits too.”

The unique challenges and strengths of neurodivergence 

As a neurodivergent person, Alex has experienced unique challenges and strengths when it comes to his role. Early in this career, he found it more challenging than others to complete tasks and relied on colleagues to help him navigate unfamiliar environments when working onsite with clients. Despite this, neurodiversity enhanced his experience in other ways:

“I’ve found that my ADHD means I possess high levels of empathy and an innate ability to read people. On the other hand, my Autism means I can visualise and recognize patterns, systems, and processes really naturally. These traits have helped enhance my professional skepticism, as well as my ability to navigate large datasets and solve complex problems.”

Alex believes his pattern recognition skills are key to his success in his current role. This helps him identify connections others may miss, creating greater opportunity to drive innovation.

Seeking out support in the workplace

After discovering he was neurodivergent, Alex engaged in professional coaching and completed a workplace assessment to help him understand his strengths and identify adjustments that could help him at work. As a result, he now has reserved seating in quieter areas of the office, and requests timed agendas for longer meetings so he can plan in regular breaks. 

He is also part of the EY Neurodiversity Community, where he connects with others who have similar experiences:

“Connecting with others as part of the EY Neurodiversity Community has been transformational to my experience in the workplace. Not only does it highlight that there lots of people who are neurodivergent, but it also provides a safe space to learn about other’s experiences whilst sharing my own.”

Alex also highlights the inclusive and accommodating nature of his team as a key area of support for him:

“I am lucky to work for an accommodating team where we all support each other – both before and after my neurodiversity journey. Part of this involves discussing our ways of working regularly so that we can understand different people’s working styles and can work better together.”

Advice to others

Alex is passionate about sharing his experience of neurodiversity to educate and empower others, and has four pieces of advice for neurodivergent people pursuing a career in audit: 

  1. Understand your strengths and challenges: Regardless of whether your neurodiverse, understand your strengths and challenges and share these with the teams you work with if you feel comfortable to do so.
  2. Experiment with different strategies: What strategies work for some people, might not work for you. Experiment with different ways of working and adjustments to find out what helps you best.
  3. Connect with others: Find a community and connect with others who are neurodiverse. This can help you better understand your own challenges and find different solutions to them. 
  4. Enjoy the journey: Audit is a unique and exciting profession. You get unrivaled access to businesses, and it can be a really rewarding career for anyone – particularly those with diverse abilities.

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