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Seattle employee strives to be his ‘favorite self’

If there’s one thing guaranteed to get Jake Marcos out of bed in the morning, it’s working with people. Although the Seattle-based software engineer enjoys coding and his routine job tasks, collaboration is what truly drives him.

“People make all the difference,” he said.

Jake joined Best Buy in 2019 when he was hired as a contract worker. Last June, he transitioned to the Best Buy Ads team, where he writes and reviews code, designs systems and helps orient new team members. He’s an excellent communicator with a zest for collaboration— and does it all without speaking.

At 2 years old, Jake was diagnosed with herpes meningoencephalitis, inflammation of the brain. It initially gave Jake the inability to speak and lingered on as a speech disorder, but it has had little impact on his Best Buy career.

“His energy and positivity are infectious,” said Carlos Sola-Llonch, an engineering senior manager and Jake’s supervisor. “It’s a privilege to have Jake on the team.”

As both an introvert and a people person, Jake relishes participating in a team that works together to solve complex problems. And he couldn’t ask for a better crew to do it with.

“I always get huge support,” Jake emphasized. “I love my team.”

The right fit

When Jake moved to the United States from his home in Bilbao, Spain, he was filled with career aspirations. But despite that passion, Jake found that as he interviewed for jobs with various companies, his speech impairment wasn’t always well-received.

“I have some hard stories,” he said.

Once he made his way to Best Buy, Jake found the opposite to be true. “Best Buy was just natural,” he said.

That “natural” feeling is thanks to the company’s focus on improving accessibility to create inclusive and uncomplicated tech experiences for individuals with disabilities. That said, accessibility is a relatively new idea across many companies, and there are still gaps to fill.

For example, when applying for a new Best Buy Credit Card over the phone, Jake encountered an accessibility challenge. Because his speech disorder made it difficult to verify his identity, the person assisting on the other line couldn’t fulfill Jake’s request.

While a difficult experience, it spurred a positive change: Experience Design Senior Manager Vidhya Subramanian and her fellow Accessibility Team members were able to adjust the phone application process to make it easier for others going forward.

Thanks to contributions from employees like Jake, Best Buy can learn how to better shape our processes to become as accessible as possible.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” Jake said.

Staying grounded

Living with a disability has come with many learnings for Jake. As a parent and someone who has navigated a speech impairment for most of his life, he has two big pieces of advice for others who might be struggling.

First, he says, strive to be your “favorite self.”

“‘Best self’ means always seeking more. You need to enjoy your path,” Jake said.

And second, he encourages others to find an anchor. For Jake, that anchor is family. With his wife and kids keeping him grounded, he can take on each new day with confidence and be that anchor for them too. “We support each other,” Jake said.