Grace Bolton - She/Her
Senior Manager at EY, Founder of Grace's Sitters and EY Neurodiversity Community Co-Lead
Grace Bolton is the founder of babysitting agency Grace’s Sitters, which she started at just 19, while she was still at university. It has over 120 sitters on its books and allows parents to find reliable local help quickly and easily. At the same time as running Grace’s Sitters, Grace has a consulting career at EY. She works as a digital product manager, working with clients to drive growth through large scale digital transformations. She also leads EY’s Neurodiversity Community, growing it from 150 to over 1,000 in 2022.
Please tell us about your career
I split my time between the three roles - working as a product manager and the neurodiversity community co lead at EY, and I am also the founder of Grace’s Sitters.
Grace's Sitters is a babysitting service, providing families with adhoc sitters as needed. I enjoy it because it helps parents, it keeps my neurodivergent brain busy and it gives many young people their first job. Setting it up myself, I have learnt a lot too - tax law, employment law, advertising, people management. I have had to adapt services in covid and think about seasonal market demands. It challenges me and I keep learning. I babysat as a teenager and always enjoyed helping and interacting with families. When I was working as a waitress in the summer of my first year of university, I learnt how they sometimes struggled to find front of house staff and used recruitment agencies. This got me thinking about my network. So I wrote a business plan, created a brand, USPs and website, approached my friends to be babysitters and advertised the services. Nearly 7 years later, it’s still growing and keeping me busy.
At EY, I am a digital product manager. I believe that "tech is the enabler; people are the change" as it is a vehicle to allow people to make smarter decisions more efficiently. I am an energetic relationship builder who enjoys collaborating with people, working together to achieve outcomes. Consulting allows me to do just this, working across different industries and clients. My first experience with EY was as a first year undergraduate on their Leadership Academy, and from the very first day I loved the culture and mindset of the people. I was attracted by the people focused problem solving culture, it made the future seem exciting and one I could make mine. From there, I did a summer internship and then joined as a graduate in 2018. I feel proud and excited about my career. I love being busy, learning new skills and working with people. I hope my future is bright and that my energy will continue… as long as I factor in down time!
Do you feel that your job/industry is a good fit for an ND woman?
Generally yes but there is always room for improvement. With Consulting -on one of my very first days as a graduate, someone told me that consultants are like chameleons, they camouflage and fit into their new environment, and consultants are very often in new environments. Also the best consultants are comfortable with being uncomfortable. As an ND woman who has developed very good masking and coping mechanisms, from being uncomfortable or trying to fit in, this was something I was able to do. But also as I learnt more about myself and got more experience, I was able to sense when the time was to be different and drive the change. Consultants also need to be adaptable, full of energy, able to build strong relationships quickly and drive change, again things that come naturally to me as my ND strengths. However consulting and/ or big corporations also come with a lot of admin, processes and systems, something I don’t navigate well. So you can either ignore them, wait till you get a final reminder or change them and drive change to make them simpler.
With my own business, I am my own boss, I make the decisions and can flex my time to suit me. However, I think I could go faster if I had to be accountable to someone - with my ND profile I definitely need structure and then I can bounce between it. Luckily having a booking coming through and limited time helps me to be productive. Tax returns are always in last minute though… love the rush of a deadline!
How has being Neurodivergent shaped the direction of your career?
There is no part of me that isn’t my dyslexic and ADHD traits - learning about myself, my strengths and struggles and how to be the best version of myself continues every day. My dyslexia was diagnosed formally at 18 and ADHD traits informally at 25.
My dyslexia traits mean I receive, process and retain information differently; slow reader, patchy speller and getting thoughts on paper is challenging but once I understand the problem my brain works quickly, I see the big picture and articulate my thoughts in verbal exchanges to get to the required outcome. My ADHD traits mean I hyperfocus and with a deadline, I work at speed for intense periods of time, then once met my body and mind need to recharge. So I learn to pace myself, enforce structure into my work and life, or hyperfocus and then build in time for rest after. I mask a lot, and that takes energy and time. I also search for dopamine constantly but more when I am tired or haven’t invested in self care, but through better understanding myself I can catch it earlier and help myself.
What advice would you give to another Neurodivergent woman navigating their way through life?
Learn about yourself, your strengths and struggles. When are you at your best and how did you get there - and then do this more often. Strengths finder is a great tool. Talk to others; friends, family, colleagues, share your experiences and help them learn about neurodiversity. Drive the change on educating more people on neurodiversity, help to create a neuro-inclusive workplace. And most importantly don’t criticise yourself - easier said than done but no one is perfect, you can always try again tomorrow.