As an experience manager for the PI supply chain group at EY, a core part of my job is to be looking ahead and predicting peoples’ actions and needs. But as recently as a few years ago there was no way I could have foreseen where my own life would take me.
Away on vacation for Memorial Day Weekend in 2014, I dove into a body of shallow water and broke my T5 and T6 vertebrae. After 7 hours of emergency surgery, the doctors told me there was a 1% chance I’d ever walk again. And that’s really what I heard and seized upon—that there was a chance.
Before I got injured, I’d been training to run the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC, and I decided that this was still something I wanted to check off of my bucket list, injury or not. So I started training for adaptive cycling. The first time I took the cycle out I hated it, but the second time it was better, and by the third or fourth time things started to click.
The day of the race, things were cooking for the first 13 miles, but right near that mile marker, I found myself with a flat tire. My spare was with my step-father across the river in Arlington, Virginia, and, watching person after person passed me, I decided I was going to finish this race and kept on cranking on the flat. 13.2 miles later, I crossed the finish line and earned my medal, and my family was waiting for me with a life-sized bucket list. I was able to literally check off finishing a marathon.
One of our leaders at EY likes to say that whenever she shares my story, she speaks to my ability to pivot or change instead of withdraw. But I think that this is really an EY characteristic, and not unique to me.
I’d never really thought about what I want my legacy to be. But the major point that I come back to in thinking about it now is about purpose. Brandon Lyons Experience Manager, EY
After the accident, EY enabled me to work remotely on internal projects, and after six months, to return to client-facing work. But I quickly realized that I wasn’t strong enough yet to handle the travel and the demands of full-time consulting, and was extremely nervous to tell the team and the client. I worried about whether I could still have a career at EY. But everyone was so supportive and accepting, and leadership helped me find a strategic project that I could lead for a year while I continued to work on my recovery. From there, I worked with our accommodations team to find a job as an experience manager supporting the team I had previously with. I have continued to grow with support from the organization, and although my new normal has taken adjustment, EY has been with me every step of the way.
At the age of 24, I’d never really thought about what I want my legacy to be. But the major point that I come back to in thinking about it now is about purpose. And purpose is something at the core of EY’s mission and approach to our work. And part of my purpose has become to break down barriers for people with disabilities, and I’m very grateful to work for a company that not only supports me, but shares my purpose in building a better working world.