Meet some of our team as they share a message on their experience with disability.
Finding your purpose Katie Whitt, Senior Outreach Recruiter
“The best career advice I ever received was to find your purpose and surround yourself with people who support you,” Katie Whitt said. “I found my passion and purpose in the disability space.”
Growing up just a few miles away from her cousin Andrew they became great friends. Andrew was born with Spina Bifida and wheelchair bound the entirety of his 26 years. They frequented each other’s birthday parties and Andrew hardly ever missed one of Katie’s softball games or tennis matches.
“He never felt sorry for himself or complained about his disability. He was the epitome of a grateful and happy person,” Katie said. “His passing brought a new perspective on how I lived my life moving forward – to focus on the present.”
She began her career at BAE Systems as a Human Resources intern in 2017. About two weeks after she started, a strange event happened where she temporarily lost her vision. After undergoing a series of tests, Katie was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a potentially disabling condition that weakens your central nervous system.
Not knowing exactly what lay ahead, she reported the diagnosis to her supervisor.
“Dawn at Norfolk Ship repair was with me every step of the way. Her guidance, mentorship and knowledge instilled a level of trust and appreciation for BAE Systems. And the support of my entire team gave me comfort in being here,” Katie said. “I knew I would do my best to provide the same kindness to others moving forward.”
Katie is now a Senior Outreach Recruiter responsible for filling some of the most critical roles in engineering, finance, and operations at BAE Systems. She is also the lead for disability hiring company-wide.
“I’m a recruiter helping others find opportunity, and within that space, I get to help individuals with disabilities have the same privilege,” Katie said. “Nothing is more important to me than working for an organization whose values align with mine. I know I belong here because of the unwavering support from my team.”
Katie is now five years into her MS journey.
“I have good days and bad days with my symptoms, but I keep a positive attitude and focus on the present like Andrew taught me,” she added. “If sharing my story fosters inclusion and makes someone feel less alone, that’s what matters and my purpose is fulfilled.”
Why I'm proud to work at BAE Systems
Joanna Kopinetz, Senior Technical Writer
Let's continue to ask questions Niki Carter, Assistant General Counsel
As an experienced legal advisor, Niki Carter asks a lot of questions.
She uses this curiosity to form trusted relationships, understand situations and provide the best recommendations for her clients. It’s what makes her so successful.
Niki takes this same approach in her mission to amplify disability inclusion and representation. A car accident in high school left her with not only temporary wounds, but a permanent disability. She became completely deaf in her right ear. It’s not a matter of amplifying sound in her deaf right ear, since she perceives nothing at all from that direction. All sound must be routed to her left hearing ear with a hearing aid.
“Growing up, people would make naïve comments about how well I spoke for a ‘deaf’ person,” Niki explained.
Comments like these led her to accommodate herself by positioning on a certain side of the speaker to hear more clearly, relying less on her hearing aid for assistance. She also mastered the art of lip reading.
“My disability increased my awareness of accessibility hardships and obstacles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community, but really for all individuals with disabilities and the marginalized,” Niki said. “As a world, what questions are we asking to validate people’s life experiences and what safe environments are we creating in which they can share them?”
Niki asks these questions as an active member of Abilities Beyond Limits and Expectations (ABLE), a BAE Systems employee resource group committed to helping individuals with disabilities and caregivers reach their highest potential through accessible and equitable resources. She recently joined ABLE’s leadership team as the Vice President of Social Impact to continue advocating for her community.
“Inclusion starts with education,” she said. “I hope my story reminds people that everyone has their own unique journey and we continue to ask questions that foster an inclusive workplace.”
Our promise to individuals with disabilities
We're committed to fostering a culture where all employees and candidates have the space to be their most sincere selves. At BAE Systems, you will be provided with a fair and equitable hiring process and the resources to complete meaningful work in a community optimized for learning, growth, and belonging.
If you need a reasonable accommodation for any portion of the hiring process, please contact your recruiter, reach out to us at 1 855-541-4654, or email email@example.com.