“However, all that may change. If you believe the doctors, I will lose my speech at some point, although they have been saying that for 20 years, and there will be other jobs that push and challenge me. My commitment is to face those brick wall moments head on and climb the bloody wall rather than trying to resign.
”Even in her difficult moment, Furness saw in his young employee many of the qualities that Lay-Flurrie’s managers and colleagues at Microsoft would later recognize – a “dynamic leader, a natural storyteller, an advocate for customers” and someone who is “competitive, courageous, grounded by purpose, and able to put people at ease and enlist hearts and minds.
”Lay-Flurrie is now senior director for accessibility, online safety and privacy at Microsoft.
With her Union Jack wristwatch and her “Keep Calm and Carry On” office decorations, she’s also a bit of a one-woman British embassy at the company’s Redmond, Wash., headquarters. Lay-Flurrie regularly incorporates phrases like “that’s pants” (British for “no good”) into conversation, which flows like the afternoon tea at The Ritz London because she’s also a gold-medal lip reader with perfect speech.
“The bee’s knees, taking the mickey out of people – my colleagues call them Jenny-isms, but I told them ‘That’s just boggins! They’re British-isms!’
“It took me a long time to figure out my disability is a strength. We are born problem solvers, loyal, and driven. I wouldn’t change my journey for the world – it’s made me who I am – but there is a smarter way to do this,” Lay-Flurrie says.
“There is so much that I can do to help others personally and in my role at Microsoft. There are a billion people with disabilities in the world. We’ve got to get it right for them.”