“I believe in both women and men empowering women, and I look to mentor younger women when I can. I enjoy walking alongside my mentees in their journeys, passing along some of the wisdom and knowledge I’ve gleaned from my mentors, as well as sharing new nuggets of insights I’ve gained in my own experiences.”
Tell us a little bit about what a typical day looks like for you.
I strive hard to understand people’s motivations and simplify complex processes through my designs. I lead strategic design initiatives for different bank businesses, facilitate user research with clients to uncover new insights, and contribute to designing a reusable design system for developers across the bank.
My daily responsibilities vary depending on which projects I’m focused on, but typically include anything from user research and day-in-the-life interviews, to prototyping and designing screens or interface flows, to gathering user requirements for tools or systems. During design/implementation phases, I tend to be in prototyping software and apps such as InVision, Axure, or Sketch, for much of the day, and in email or documentation platforms less. In user research phases, I spend time with users to uncover solutions to unmet needs, and conduct user testing/feedback sessions to gain insights throughout my design process.
I still enjoy coding for fun, so whenever I have the opportunity to get my hands dirty with some development, I try to jump in! Sometimes this looks like participating in hackathons, workshops, or code pair exercises at work, and other times it’s simply tinkering around with plunker examples for components I’ve designed or mocking up screens in simple HTML and CSS.
How do you stay passionate in your career?
I’m constantly looking for new things to learn or ways to practice things I’ve already learned, in any form I can find. This keeps me excited about my work and helps me stay relevant. I consider ways to improve interfaces or processes that I come across in my day to day life (for things like my personal banking app, or any other mobile, desktop, or tablet experiences), and I also like to try new or different things with my work projects where I can, often inspired by use cases I’ve seen elsewhere in my day or in the industry.
I want to be constantly evolving, while still having a solid foundation of skills that I can continue to develop. I stay up to date with reading articles in the industry so I can follow trends and track with the latest best practices, and I frequently learn from the people around me. My friends and colleagues really keep me passionate about my work and challenge me to continually improve.
Did you have a traditional path into tech (i.e.: CS/IT degree transitioned into tech job)?
Somewhat traditional; when I was applying to colleges, I knew I wanted my work to encapsulate an intersection of tech and creativity, but I didn’t know exactly what that would look like. I actually started out as a chemical and biomedical engineering double major, as I’ve always been passionate about the medical field, but I soon transitioned to electrical engineering, realizing I might be able to leverage that degree for the creative paths I was interested in pursuing. Throughout college, I held internships and part-time positions in both creative fields and the tech industry. These experiences set me up well to obtain a role in user experience design and development in my first full-time role.
Are there any apps, software, or tools you cannot live without?
I can’t live without Spotify, but I do have a short (long) list of ways I’d like to enhance it, via their APIs, to better suit my needs and musical desires – I’ve been saving that for a fun weekend side project, but it’s long overdue! I’m also still trying to find an IDE that suits me well. I love using the VSCO app for photo editing on my phone and all Adobe products on desktop for their various uses (Illustrator, Photoshop, AfterEffects, Premiere, InDesign, Lightroom). For my daily news digest, I often turn to Flipboard.
It’s common knowledge that women often face obstacles in the tech industry based on their gender. Have you ever had to deal with this type of experience and if so how did you handle it?
There were very few women in my specific concentration within my major, but I never felt slighted by that. The numbers sometimes made it harder to connect on a personal level. Overall, I enjoyed getting to know and work with my classmates, men and women, and definitely felt a sense of camaraderie with my women classmates. I was involved in both the Society of Women Engineers and Women in Electrical & Computer Engineering student clubs, so I always had a good network of people with which to navigate any issues.
Throughout college, workshops and conversations in these student clubs, employee resource groups in my internships, and women in tech conferences helped equip me to feel confident in reading situations in my future workplace well and be able to address issues with diversity in effective ways. From listening to senior women and learning from female leaders and their experiences, I have been enabled to navigate my own experiences better now.
In the tech industry, I have probably experienced more obstacles from imposter’s syndrome, of which I would attribute to being a woman in tech, than anything else. Over time, I have learned to believe in my own abilities and elevate them in order to succeed. Luckily, I also have amazing peers, colleagues, mentors, and main supporters who I can lean on to help challenge, encourage, and guide me in my work and empower me personally. I recognize I am fortunate to have had few negative experiences or setbacks due to being a woman in tech so far in my career, and I actively look for opportunities to step in for other women when I see something wrong or that doesn’t sit right.
What’s your favorite thing about being a woman in tech?
I really love being a part of the broader woman in tech community and getting to participate in various initiatives which further develop women in technology. I have been fortunate to regularly attend yearly technology conferences since 2013, including the Society of Women Engineers’ annual WE conference or the Grace Hopper Celebration each year.
There are many great resource groups and organizations doing exciting things for women in tech. I join the efforts when I can, or otherwise connect other women to such initiatives. I’m always encouraged after talking to other women in tech. There is so much to learn from each other, and a long way to go for us – which makes the efforts that we do today, for the future, that much more exciting.
If applicable, how have you given back to the WIT community?
Having been an active member of WIT student organizations in college and now a core member of the WIT employee resource group in my workplace, I have been fortunate to be surrounded by women who inspire and challenge me and to learn from them. I appreciate the extraordinary impact that incredible women have had on my career as a student and now as a company employee. With this in mind, I frequently seek opportunities to give back to the WIT community, especially to the next and future generations of women. I want to see the next generation of women, starting from when they are just girls, know an even better world of experience than we do today.
I’ve had so many really awesome mentors walk with me throughout the past decade, who have made a real impact on the trajectory of my career. I’ve loved math and science from a very young age, and it wasn’t often the popular choice for girls in school. Having role models (and supportive teachers!) then and mentors now have shaped my attitude, confidence, and approach in being a woman in tech. I believe in both women and men empowering women, and I look to mentor younger women when I can. I enjoy walking alongside my mentees in their journeys, passing along some of the wisdom and knowledge I’ve gleaned from my mentors, as well as sharing new nuggets of insights I’ve gained in my own experiences. I also try to volunteer with children in my communities when opportunities arise, teaching students how to code or guiding them in different problem solving techniques.
What is a piece of advice you would give to others wanting to or currently pursuing a career in tech?
Keep an open mind and don’t be limited to any expectations placed on you. Remain diligent in seeking technical opportunities of your interests, even within your workplace after you are employed, and continue to build upon the skills you have today so they aren’t left stale. Get involved with employee resource groups with missions that you are passionate about. Find good people, at work or in similar industries, to mentor and cheer you on, and find people you can mentor and cheer on as well. Having people you can turn to for guidance or support in any time of need is crucial. And, don’t shy away from conversations with men who want to help empower women in technology or who just want to learn more about WIT.
Tell us about a time you felt extremely accomplished in the past year.
This isn’t one specific time, but it is for one project! For the past year, I have been working on a new project as the lead designer, seeing it from conception to a fully fleshed out prototype; it is currently being built and delivered to clients. Over the past six months, I’ve been able to take my prototype to clients and get direct feedback on the features and functionality of the product. A few months ago, I had the privilege of leading a meeting to present the prototype to a group of diverse advisors representing a number of clients, who were each able to share insights and ideas about what we’re offering. Over the months, I’ve processed the insights gained and applied them to our solutions, and the first few stages of the finished product are being rolled out to production right now. It’s really exciting to see something I’ve worked on so meticulously and for so long be released for clients to use and access on their own. I’m looking forward to addressing even more client needs in my various projects!
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt