“They listened to me and they cared. That’s the great thing about Maxima."

There’s no shortage of studies telling employers a diverse workforce is good for business because it adds people with different life experiences and points of view. Any employer still wondering what that really means could learn a lot by meeting Sandra Bach, who recently joined Maxima in administration support in community engagement.

Sandra was born with clubfeet and a knee abnormality, but she gets around the office without any fuss with the help of a walker and is making a great contribution, answering enquiries from jobseekers two days a week.

She’s great at her job, not just because she relates so well to those she is talking to you, but because she is engaged and loves helping others.

At face value, Sandra is just like other great employees. But when you understand what she has overcome, and get to experience her positivity about life, you understand that a diversity of life experiences really does make the workplace richer.

When she was born in 1962, Sandra’s parents were told she would never walk. But walk she did. When she was 17, doctors wanted to amputate her legs. She told them no, which was a gutsy call for a teenager up against the medical establishment of the 1970s. And as an adult, her doctor told her she would be confined to a wheelchair by the time she was 50, which she refused to accept as well.

Her condition is painful, and she has needed drugs throughout her life to manage her condition, but there’s no way Sandra will let her disability stop her enjoying life. And after raising two children, it wasn’t going to prevent her getting back into the workforce and finding a meaningful job.

Sandra’s first break came in 2010, when she was given a job as a receptionist. But she was caught up in a round of redundancies and found it extremely hard to find another job.

“I applied for lots of jobs, not saying that I had a disability. But when I showed up with my walker, the interview was effectively over before it even began. And it’s so just competitive out there. You are up against lots of people with certificates in computing and so on.”

But her persistence eventually paid off when she struck up a conversation at a disability expo with Maxima’s National Business Development Manager, Andrew Worrall, and his colleague, Joanne Kerr, who is a Community Services Consultant.

“They listened to me and they cared. That’s the great thing about Maxima. After a while, Andrew said Maxima might have something for me, and that quickly led to the role I am in now. I was actually quite anxious at first about talking on the phone, but it’s wonderful to hear about people’s stories. You can strike up some really good conversations and I am absolutely loving it.”