As regular supporters of Ladies That UX events, we jumped at the chance to be able to work with them to organise one of the nights. We had been told by the organisers, Georgie and Sophie, that they get a lot of feedback from the ladies wanting more career advice so thought this would be the perfect way for us to give something back.
We brought together some very inspirational and motivating hiring managers and senior UXers to share their knowledge and try and help the ladies to improve their search for the perfect job, and created a careers fair type environment for the ladies to participate in.
The evening was held at the (amazing!) UsTwo offices in Shoreditch, and kicked off with an introduction from Ladies That UX to talk about all the exciting events they have coming up in the following months. Next, myself and Zebra’s UX Resourcer, Maryanna introduced ourselves and explained how the evening would work.
Susanne Soliman is a Senior Interaction Designer at HSBC. She told the ladies a bit about her role, explaining that despite the corporate environment there is a broad variety of work, a mix of interesting projects and some travel. Her main subject to help with on the evening was the difference between working in an agency or client-side but given her experience she would be able to talk about more general topics as well. She closed her introduction by pointing out that the ladies could ask her anything, even asking about dress codes isn’t a silly question.
Darci Dutcher is Head of UX and Design at Blinkbox, previously having worked in financial services and for consulting firms. She wanted to put across the point that an interview isn’t just about you getting the job, it’s about you choosing whether the company is right for you, and knowing what the right questions to ask are.
“It’s important, in an interview, to be a good match”
Asha Haji is a recent import to London, having moved from Boston. She is currently the Global Director of Recruitment for Education First, although started her career first as a web, and then software developer. She wanted to be able to show the ladies what a recruiter would see from their side of the screen when searching for that perfect candidate, offer tips on how they could optimise their profiles for coming up in searches, and improve their chances of being matched for the right job.
Tricia Okin is an instructor for General Assembly, currently teaching on the UX Immersive course – she pointed out it would be a really useful activity if you wanted to transition to UX from something else. Her aim for the evening was to be able to open the ladies’ eyes to the need to document and present your work. She spoke about the older generation of UXers who are now at a disadvantage as they haven’t always recorded their process.
“All those little punk ass sketches you do, take a photo of it because that’s your portfolio…”
Selina Bans is a Technical Project Manager with BBC, working on projects like iPlayer, the Olympics and various news. Her experience meant that she would be able to speak to the ladies about what it’s like to try and bring multidisciplinary teams together. Additionally she explained that as she’s sat on interview panels for various tech, UX, and web development roles she would be able to highlight some of the things employers look for in those.
Hara Mihailidou started off her career slightly differently, she worked as a web engineer before moving on to photography – preferring the images more than the words – and then interactive storytelling. She is currently working an Interaction Designer at Skype. Despite not technically being a hiring manager, she wanted to share her personal journey, including the issues surrounding working as a freelancer and also what it’s like to make the transition from a small company to a large one.
The final introduction was made by Elin Sjursen, Experience Director at Accenture Interactive. In her role she regularly has to look at CVs and conduct interviews, but also gets involved in pitching for accounts and then assembling the teams to work on them, so had a wealth of knowledge to share on both fronts. One of the other points she wanted to focus on with the ladies was –
“How do you become a pioneer in your industry?”
After the introductions the group dispersed into smaller groups, with each of the hiring managers having a table for one-on-ones. The Zebra team was also on hand to answer questions about the recruitment process, CV and portfolios, and everything in between.
It was amazing to see even the smaller groups mingling and giving each other advice when they weren’t talking to the hiring managers – there were some great tips flying around such as not writing off past skills or projects –
“It’s always good to keep them in your back pocket – if you can say to someone ‘Yes I can do this job, and oh, I can design a logo as well’ then that’s great”
Speaking to the ladies it was clear that this was a really valuable evening for them (and not just because they told us so…). One described it as a really good way of getting lots of useful information in a short amount of time. We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved, and everyone who attended, we’re already thinking about the next event!
Over the next few weeks we’ll be publishing some of the top tips from the event, keep your eyes peeled!