I have recently started my adventure on the STEM ambassador path (more information here). I was wondering what would be a good introduction, right before I’ll go around convincing young and old people on why a career in STEM is a good choice. Then eureka! I knew what I could do first. I could interview women I know that choose to go into STEM careers and are doing well in it.
Today – we have Julia, the lead designer for an insurtech company – Concirrus. Hello Julia!
Hi everyone, thanks for having me here. I’d be glad to tell you more about myself. For a starter I am: an Artist at a heart, product designer for tech companies for the profession. I Love long hikes, travelling, nature and animals. Enthusiastic and passionate, very much a social being.
What do you currently do?
I am the lead designer in an insurtech company.
Can you tell me a bit about your journey? How did you get where you are now?
It was actually a very long journey. I am laughing now that I always wanted to be a fashion designer, this is why I was studying industrial design and ended up as a product designer. I started working in the design industry 15 years ago. I was at first freelancing and then opened my first design business. I was taking all kinds of projects such as websites, magazines, newspapers, folders, posters and even illustrations to name a few. I wanted to learn as much as possible and discover what I really like to design. When I came to London, more than 6 years ago I already knew I wanted to focus on digital design. The most interesting for me were mobile applications. I knew already about UX design, but I started learning by myself more intensely as I wanted to focus fully on this career path. I held a few product designer roles here in London and finally ended up as a lead product designer for the insurchtech company.
What drew you to the tech industry?
As a product designer in insurtech I have a lot of design challenges that are very uncommon in the UX world. My company is creating brand new products, nobody has ever created before. We are blazing the trails and creating new UX patterns. Challenges, innovative products and endless possibilities drew me to the tech industry.
Who do you look up to for inspiration or mentorship?
It’s a very hard question. I am getting inspired by all the art and design creators, situations, nature. I believe anything or anyone can be inspirational in the right circumstances. I don’t have a design mentor, I think we can learn from anyone.
How do you keep yourself motivated despite conflicts and obstacles?
I am a highly motivated and disciplined person, never was afraid of conflicts and obstacles. Of course they are not the nicest to experience but every experience teaches us new things and how to solve problems like this in the future.
What are your current goals? What are you currently working on?
I love my work, but also I think I would like to focus on creating my personal projects which aren’t necessarily directly connected to my work. I am always doing a lot of things at once, currently trying to focus a little bit more on photography.
What are you the proudest of in your career so far?
That I learnt everything by myself, I failed many times and never was afraid to fail. I tried every opportunity I got.
What is the favourite part of your job?
I like the whole process of designing a new product or a feature – starting from product discovery activities, initial sketches of ideas to creating high fidelity designs.
What has been your greatest challenge from working in the tech industry?
As I mentioned before in one of the answers, blazing the trails in UX patterns are the most challenging and interesting at the same time.
What’s the most important risk you took in your career and why?
I think it was closing my own business, giving away all the clients, contacts and companies I was working with for years to my best friend and moving to London to start a new career path. It was something new for me to work for a full time position from the office. That was a massive change for me.
How do you continue to grow and develop?
I think that if you are interested in the job you are doing you naturally read about this topic, go for the conferences, meet people from the industry and actively participate in design forums. Also I think you are growing the most when you are teaching someone, cause they can explore and help to realise your gaps. Stay curious, stay hungry for knowledge, stay motivated.
What have you learned from your experience so far?
That even if you failed, you succeeded too as you exposed yourself for a new experience.
Finally, do you have any advice to aspiring engineers, designers and artworkers who want to grow in the tech industry?
The first step is the hardest, but when you start, don’t stop and you will get wherever you want :). Also, don’t compare yourself to others as every person has a different pace and path.
Thank you very much for the interview Julia! Please watch this space for more, as I keep on interviewing!