Paying it Forward

JPMorgan Chase’s Autism at Work program seeks to help people on the spectrum secure jobs that will allow them to grow.

Lee Corless has two jobs at J.P. Morgan.

By day, he leads governance for Europe, Middle East and Africa Wholesale Payment Operations within the Corporate & Investment Bank, Digital & Platform Services. His job in Bournemouth requires someone who is very structured and precise, with a keen eye to detail. Corless’ extensive background in Lean Six Sigma — a team-focused managerial approach that drives improved performance by eliminating waste and defects — suits him well for the position.

But on nights and weekends, you’ll find Corless supporting the advancement of JPMorgan Chase’s Autism at Work program across the U.K. His aforementioned skillsets — in addition to his experience living with Asperger syndrome — suit him well for that job, too.

“It’s great to be able to give something back to a company that has given me so much,” says Corless, who joined the company in 2016. “I want to help J.P. Morgan become a leader in hiring people on the spectrum and persuade other companies to view autism for its strengths, not its weaknesses.

“If companies the size of ours can lead the way, then it makes sense that others will follow.”

Corless was diagnosed with Asperger’s when he was 35. After his wife urged him to get checked, it took doctors four years to arrive at his diagnosis.

“While I was expecting it, the diagnosis still hit me like a ton of bricks,” he admits. “I had to pick myself up and remind myself that it wasn’t a label – I’ve always seen things in a different way since I was very young, and this helped me understand why.”

And now, he’s on a mission to help managers and senior leaders across the U.K. better understand the strengths that qualified people with Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) bring to JPMorgan Chase.

It’s not a charity play by any means, he says — it’s good for the company and its business. And Corless points out that it’s not just about creating awareness — it’s about showing results and proven successes.

“Our goal is to get managers to come to us with job opportunities that could work for people on the spectrum instead of us going to them,” he says. “The way to do this is by building knowledge around identifying skills, qualifications and job families so managers will see the benefit.”

Corless raised his hand to help the program grow in the U.K. He’s been working with Glasgow’s University of Strathclyde to carry out training sessions for employees from Bournemouth and London to Dublin and Poland.

And now he’s helping to lead some of these sessions, too.

“I’m paying it forward to help others,” Corless says. “The confidence it’s given me to put myself out there has had a good effect on me.”

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