EY sat down with Constant Djacga, who was recently promoted to Audit Partner at the firm, for career advice for people with disabilities. Constant is based in EY’s San Jose office. He has a speech dysfluency, which causes stuttering issues.
Question: We understand that you’ve had great mentors and sponsors who you credit with helping you grow professionally and progress to the highest ranks at EY. What advice would you give other people with disabilities about finding those critical supporters and leveraging them to build successful careers?
Constant Djacga: Professionals with disabilities might feel a little out of place because of their visible or non-visible differences. Mentors and sponsors can play a key role in helping them bring their whole selves to work. Throughout my professional career, I’ve found my sponsors and mentors by developing and maintaining strong relationships with people I worked with on specific projects and with other leaders across the firm. These individuals taught me new technical and leadership skills, and helped expose me to unique experiences. After building a trusting relationship, I was able to open up to my sponsors about my disability. By speaking up and sharing my speech dysfluency, I felt liberated and was able to stretch myself professionally.
Mentors and sponsors can help people with disabilities by providing them with opportunities to grow and access to resources to help navigate the workplace, and acting as advocates. My mentors and sponsors have played a central role throughout various stages of my career. They showed me the ropes within and outside the firm. They provided me access to networks and created the trusting environment that allowed me to open up and to talk about my speech dysfluency.
Question: You’ve taken some real risks in your career, such as moving to the United States and relocating your family from Milwaukee to the West Coast, where you assumed responsibility for one of the firm’s largest technology clients. What led you to take on those kinds of challenges and, based on your experiences, are there any key learnings you’d want to share?
Constant Djacga: I’ve moved multiple times while at EY. From Milwaukee back to my home country of Africa — to lead the integration between audit practices in Cameroon and Chad — then back to Milwaukee to now San Jose, where I serve one of the firm’s largest technology clients. These experiences helped me build a more global mindset, learn about new and emerging markets and better understand the EY organization.
These moves also helped me grow personally and professionally, while providing me with significant and meaningful work experiences. Lastly, these experiences exposed me to more people of different backgrounds, experiences and cultures; and I’ve been able to share the value of diverse teams and model inclusive leadership with my current teams.