From early struggles to discovering how to excel
As the Principal Cybersecurity Officer, Jim Jacobson and his team have the monumental task of managing cybersecurity of products, services, and solutions Siemens Healthineers provides.
But there were struggles early in his career as cybersecurity expert, not knowing he had challenges others didn’t have to deal with. Upon learning of his autism diagnosis at the age of 50, Jacobson now has the tools to help him excel at work: “I eventually learned to consciously model my interactions with people, and in tasks, to compensate for abilities that neurotypical coworkers took as a matter of course”, he explains. It was “game-changing” to be diagnosed with autism: “I could now play to my strengths and recognize where I needed make up for my shortfalls.”
Autism is a lifelong neurological condition that manifests during early childhood. People with autism spectrum disorders have specific characteristics, behaviors, tastes, and ways to do things. The key is to understand their way to see the world and their performance without trying to make them change.
One of these challenges can be securing and maintaining meaningful and fulfilling employment. In addition to raising awareness, he and a group of colleagues wanted to create an open and safe environment for extraordinary minds with the launch of the HANDS employee resource group in December 2020: “First, the level of unemployment for autistic individuals is too high. We need to find better paths to bring them into the workforce. Secondly, for existing neurodiverse employees, we need to create an environment where these novel minds can comfortably flourish and fully express their unique contributions to our company’s success.”
An inclusive mission
Jacobson the quality of a conversation is not measured by the volume of one’s
voice, but by finding new paths for listening
If you’re looking for new ideas, turn not to just someone with a different point of view - but someone who literally thinks differently.
Jim Jacobson, Principal Cybersecurity Officer
This is what makes a truly inclusive culture for him: “We all come to the table with unique experience, unique backgrounds, unique perspectives. This variety enriches our lives at work and society at large. Inclusion is accepting and embracing this diversity, creating a more representative, a more stimulating culture, where everyone can fully participate.”