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Nadia Dillon

Engineer Manager at Chipper Cash and Founder of Inner App

Please tell us about your career

I am an Engineering Manager predominantly within the mobile app space. My job is different every day and fast-paced, it requires a level of creative thinking whether it be with design or how to build complex ideas. However, there are a lot of things that stay constant i.e the code which creates familiarity and structure.

I entered the industry after I realised that my previous working environment in consulting didn't suit my needs. At the time I wasn't diagnosed, but it was clear that the high need for socialising in order to be promoted wasn't a criteria I could meet. I pivoted into working as a software engineer as it allowed me to focus on skills that I excelled in: pattern recognition, problem-solving, and critical thinking.

I also am the creator behind @autisticblackgirl and am the Founder of Inner,  a mental health app for the Neurodivergent. By combining real-time environmental signals from a wearable device, with logging of nutrition, hormones, and other factors, Inner is designed to help users recognise patterns that can lead to improved mental health and better overall wellbeing.

I hope in the future to build more digital solutions within the wellness space for neurodivergent people.


How has being Neurodivergent shaped the direction of your career?

For the last 6 years, I have worked as a software engineer and for 5 of those I have been an Engineering Manager. I decided to enter this industry because I googled “what jobs are good for Autistic people”.  Strangely enough it worked out and I was able to play to my strengths of analytical, problem-solving, process driven and pattern-detection thinking.

However, after a year of being a software engineer and then getting a promotion to manager - I experienced Autistic burnout and had to take a 6-month career break. Because I thought success was to hyperfocus my way to the top. After that break, I then became extremely conscious of where I needed balance and how employers need to do better to ensure the workplace is purposefully designed to be near inclusive. 


Do you feel that your job/industry is a good fit for an ND woman?

I think a job as a Developer is highly suited to a neurodivergent person, due to the constant challenges, and variety but still very structured and almost routine. However, the downside is that fixing bugs and building features is a job that is never complete, and in the realm of hyperfocus, it can be incredibly hard to pull yourself away from your work. Therefore it's important to instill balance, as I've often found that a lot of neurodivergent people within the same role as myself struggle with constant burnout cycles. 


What advice would you give to another Neurodivergent woman navigating their way through life?

  1. Find a social circle of neurodivergent people. It can be on social media or in person. But having a group of people to be able to share your woes with or your funny stories about your neurodivergent traits, means you don’t have to be alone in your journey.
  2. Therapy - regular therapy if possible whether that be talking or any other therapeutic means to work through your feelings such as meditation, or music.
  3. Productivity - read the book When by Daniel Pink! Find your daily productivity pattern and start to add those practices to your work/social calendar. This was pivotal in figuring out what tasks were making me drained and that it was just because my body has a schedule that I didn’t understand.
  4. Don’t be scared to be you -. Masking is a survival tactic that a lot of women do so they can fit into a neurotypical world and I found a lot of safety in pretending to be others. However, there was a lot of discomfort in it too. So give yourself the grace to be you, and to not ‘get it right”, to fail to learn and grow as you rather than to fade into the background

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