Dr J Harrison

Harbinger of Change

I had been a Business Analyst and Project Manager for nearly 17 years when I joined ThoughtWorks in 2016 - my background is in Research Science, and I’ve experience across multiple sectors working as the liaison/translator between the technology teams and the end-customer. I’m always in front of the client and the team getting everyone to think in new ways about what will solve the issues their users face. The most interesting part for me is getting clients to see beyond what they think is possible, and finding out what will bring them, and their users, the most value in the end.

I’ve been out as Non-Binary GenderQueer for over 10 years and was out as LGBTQ+ for many years before that. I use “They” my pronouns, and I use a gender non-specific name. Being out as Non-Binary means being very visibly outside the mainstream, and bringing an extension of diversity to people’s attention.

While there are not many Non-Binary GenderQueer’s in Technology, and we’re especially rare over 45, it’s great to be working in a company that works hard to ensure it is inclusive and intersectional. ThoughtWorks gives me opportunities to contribute to the wider teams understanding of the diversity of experiences, and bringing queer theory into the technology space.

The Interview

My geeky passion is

Bringing queer theory; vocabulary like Heteronormativity, Homonormativity, Cis-normatively and chrononormativity; and ideas such as intersectionality, into conversations around technology.

Understanding the societal norms that shape our thinking is the first step in breaking out beyond them.

The best advice I can give a current or future ThoughtWorker is

This is the sort of place to let your freak flag fly - you can be yourself here - you can bring all of yourself to work. 

ThoughtWorkers are not like anyone else in the client's offices- we talk about different things, we focus on different things, and even when we meet any "dress codes:, we just look different to everyone around us.

One of the most interesting stories I recall from my time at ThoughtWorks was when

Early on in my time at ThoughtWorks I had just changed my hair from a "natural colour" - bright orange - to my more usual blue/green colour - which made me feel more like me.

I was discussing going to a new client with a member of the Senior Leadership Team, and I said that if I needed to go back to a natural colour I would need a couple of days notice.

Their response was "If they don't like the blue hair, we don't want them as a client"

This was the first time in all of my career that an employer had told me that how I presented myself was OK and they would change the world to have me accepted.