An interview with Zach Zaborny from EPIC Assist
Zach Zaborny was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at age eight. He comes from Scottsdale, Arizona in the United States and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications from Kansas State University in 2012. As Disability Liaison Officer for EPIC Assist, Zach assists individuals with finding employment. He also speaks at events throughout Australia promoting EPIC Assist, along with speaking to businesses of all sizes, about the benefits of hiring people on the autism spectrum. Zach is also an international speaker, having spoken in several countries as an autism self-advocate.
What brings you to Australia?
I moved to Australia from the United States in March 2016, to begin working for EPIC Assist within their Recruit Assist team. In September 2015, I had the opportunity to visit Brisbane to speak at an international autism conference, which EPIC Assist was the presenting sponsor of. At the conference, I listened to the CEO of EPIC Assist, Bill Gamack, speak about the organisation. After listening to him, I decided to pay a visit to EPIC Assist’s booth at the event. The booth was being run by my now current boss, Manager of Diversity and Inclusion, William Elliott. I approached William and told him who I was and that I was involved with autism advocacy and felt like I could be a vital member of his team. I basically asked for a job on the spot! A few months later, after a few Skype interviews and conversations around accommodations and supports at my new workplace, I started work. I’ve been sponsored by EPIC Assist as well, which is nice.
Tell us a bit about EPIC Assist’s Recruit Assist unit.
EPIC Assist has been around for almost 30 years, but the creation of our Recruit Assist unit was spearheaded by our CEO Bill Gamack in 2015. Bill noticed that there was an untapped and hidden talent pool of individuals on the autism spectrum that were having trouble gaining employment through traditional recruitment processes. Recruit Assist was created to help individuals with high-functioning autism/Asperger’s into corporate roles, e.g. IT, accounting, engineering. We work with those who either couldn’t, by choice or otherwise, access DES or Centrelink services. Since Recruit Assist began, we’ve assisted individuals with other visible and invisible disabilities as well, but the primary focus still remains individuals with autism. Within that arena, we have a special focus on university students, post-graduates and individuals with university degrees.
Why should companies consider hiring people with ASD?
There’s a long list of reasons why companies should hire people with ASD, including loyalty, strong attention to detail, and an ability to focus well. Individuals with autism can often be experts in many unique and specialised areas, which can be a great asset for businesses that are looking for someone who can meet a very specific set of skills. People with autism can often be “black and white” thinkers that enjoy process and structure, which can oftentimes be an asset for an organisation or industry that is very process- driven, for example, IT or engineering. Outside of that, individuals with autism can have great skills in many different industries including creative ones. They can be experts at anything from law, to biology, to computer science, to art and animation, just to name a few. The possibilities with specialised skills from people on the autism spectrum are actually infinite.
We hear a lot of companies are coming on board, do you need more candidates?
Where are the positions located?
EPIC Assist’s Recruit Assist team works with candidates and employers up and down the east coast of Australia, in all major capital cities. We are sourcing for potential upcoming roles in areas including Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.
What do people need to do to become a Recruit Assist candidate?
To become a candidate visit our website at http://epicassist.org/au/recruit-assist/looking-for-employment/ and click on the button at the bottom of our page that says “Join Our Talent Pool.” At that point, we’ll conduct an intake assessment with each candidate, allowing us to learn about a person’s education and work background, as well as their employment goals and any supports or accommodations they need in a workplace. After conducting this assessment, we are able to build what we call a candidate summary, to then share with prospective employers.
Tell us one of your favourite stories from EPIC Assist.
I always enjoy my time on the road. I am someone that loves to travel, so I am always happy when I get to visit different parts of Australia, to help different communities. It’s all about getting out and sharing my personal journey with autism and the story of what we do at EPIC Assist. Most importantly, I love being able to help more people each day and see them succeed in the workplace. One of my favourite “good news stories” was when we helped a guy named Mitchell through his employment pathway – something he has had difficulty with in the past – and supported him into a role that is perfect for him. Mitchell is now thriving in his current role and the organisation is extremely impressed with him, which is the outcome we pride ourselves on.
What do you love most about working in the Recruit Assist team?
Going back to the previous question, I really like getting to meet people in different communities around the country. Being from the United States originally, it’s always exciting to explore a new country, while at the same time, getting a chance to help people. For me it’s a win-win.