KPMG proudly supports Neurodiversity Celebration Week. It’s a worldwide initiative that challenges stereotypes and misconceptions about neurological differences. For us, it’s an opportunity to champion the unique perspectives and experiences our people bring.

It’s also an opportunity for us as an employer to listen and reflect on how we can better support those of us who are neurodivergent. Everyone experiences and interacts differently with the world around them. It’s by empowering these differences that we grow both as people, and as a society.

In this article, we’ll be hearing from some of our people who identify as neurodivergent, as they describe their strengths and frequent challenges they experience.

ADHD – the ability to hyperfocus and the struggle to ‘switch off’

Let’s hear from one of our Senior Consultants in Advisory, who has ADHD – or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. They joined KPMG on our Advisory trainee programme, and their role involves working with clients in financial services, government agencies, and NGOs.

“The attention deficit side means I can either struggle to maintain my attention on smaller, more menial tasks, or I can be hyperfocused on the bigger, more challenging tasks. While the hyperactivity side means I struggle to ‘switch off’ my brain – like I have multiple tabs open in my head.”

The ability to hyperfocus is a common trait of ADHD. Yet they describe some of the misconceptions surrounding the condition.

“I think a lot of people forget about that, and believe ADHD just means you’re always struggling to focus. There are, however, times when I am so productive I feel like I can solve all the world’s problems with how much I can focus and not be distracted at all. But then there are times when I do struggle to maintain focus and procrastinate.”

It may be hard for some to fathom how a neurodivergent colleague might perform excellently on a larger, more challenging project – but struggle with the easier, more menial tasks.

“In my career, it’s those smaller administrative tasks that I struggle to focus on and complete. Luckily, most of my job is very challenging – so it keeps me engaged overall, meaning I don’t get bored.”

Going through the exam process to achieve their accountancy qualification came with its own unique challenges with ADHD.

“When I started my accountancy training, I struggled with the time constraints on exams. I was having to work that much harder to make sure I finished them on time, which was putting extra pressure on me”, they say.

“Thankfully KPMG supported me by referring me to a learning specialist, which led to me being diagnosed with the condition.”

They go on to describe how receiving their diagnosis has helped them – and their colleagues – become more aware of their traits.

“It’s made me accept a lot of things about myself and built my confidence in my abilities – both inside and outside of work. I’ve been very open with my team about my diagnosis. In turn, they’ve been very accepting and made me feel very comfortable with talking about it and any challenges I may face. I haven’t requested any further support, but I know the support is there should I need it.”

Autism in the workplace – being clear in your communication

Another of our neurodivergent colleagues is Audit Assistant Ryan McGuigan, who is autistic. Currently on our audit trainee programme, Ryan describes how helpful it is to have clarity in the work assigned to him.

“Being autistic, I like to have a plan of action of what I’m going to be doing in a day”, he says.

“This is so I can prepare accordingly and know from the beginning of the day what my objectives are. But when things are constantly changing, it can be difficult to understand what’s actually important and needs prioritising”.

Ryan describes how this can sometimes lead to miscommunication within his team.

"I’m really lucky because I’ve made some great friends in the office. But there are still times when I feel kind of like an outsider looking in. Like when some jokes go over your head, or someone says something and you misinterpret it, like you missed the subtext. This can happen sometimes when you’re given a piece of work, but the brief or request wasn’t outlined as clearly as it could have been. It can lead to a misunderstanding and lapse in communication.”

Ryan McGuigan, Audit Assistant, KPMG in the Crown Dependencies

From Ryan’s point-of-view, receiving clear direction can go a long way in helping someone with autism understand exactly what’s expected.

“If you want a piece of work delivered by a certain time, for example – specify exactly what you’re asking of them and try not to be vague about it. This hasn’t happened to me very often, thankfully. But when it has, it’s usually because the other party wasn’t aware of how to communicate effectively with someone with autism, such as myself.”

Despite this, Ryan is pleased with the amount of support he has received from those within his team.

“My line manager has been fantastic about my autism. If I experience a misunderstanding, she’s really great at clarifying for me what was meant. And then I’ll be able to action it better because there’s no ambiguity. And I’ll know what to do if I come across the same kind of communication in future.”

The support has encouraged Ryan to be proactive in setting up what he calls a ‘Neurodiversity Network’ within KPMG – an initiative that aims to connect neurodivergent people within the firm to help centralise support going forward.

“Hopefully it will be quite helpful in seeing where the common threads are – anywhere where neurodivergent people feel like they could be supported better. And then we can notify KPMG and hopefully resolve those issues. It can be difficult for many neurodivergent people to get to a stage where they feel comfortable talking openly about their condition. For me, it’s very important to be able to have those conversations – so that the people you work with can seek to understand you better, and help foster a more inclusive, supportive work environment.”

For more information on Neurodiversity Celebration Week, visit: