We sit down with Inviqa Early Stage Designers Kirsten Gord, Gian Marco Macchione, and Sarah Haidermota to learn about the benefits of pivoting to a career in design.
First up, could you introduce yourself?
Kirsten: I’m a mum of two, with a BA in Anthropology. My background is in Finance / Admin, and I began my transition to the design world in September 2020.Kirsten Gord, Early Stage Designer at Inviqa
Gian Marco: I have a background in linguistics, but have always been fascinated by design. Over the years, I’ve built websites as a hobby. At the start of 2020, I began my transition to UX which led to my current position as Early Stage Designer at Inviqa. Gian Marco Macchione, Early Stage Designer at Inviqa
Sarah: I’m from California and graduated with a BS in Cognitive Science in 2018. I discovered my passion for UX during college and am excited to be working in my first corporate job as a designer at Inviqa.Sarah Haidermota, Early Stage Designer at Inviqa
What inspired you to start a career in design?
Kirsten: It all started with a coding lesson that my daughter had when we were homeschooling during lockdown. We both enjoyed it so we continued learning together. I taught myself basic Python and how to build and host a website. Then I found the Google UX Design course and ended up completely falling in love with UX design. I love that it mixes science and empathy in order to give people the best possible experience. I have always been fascinated by the way things work and trying to figure out how to make them better. As a UX designer, I get to use all of the skills I have learned over the years and apply them to projects that really benefit people and businesses.
Gian Marco: I've always been fascinated by design and creating digital experiences. I started building websites twenty years ago, and I kept doing it as a hobby or to help out friends. My close friends and family work with graphic design and fashion design, so I've always been in close contact with this world. When I discovered UX design, I was amazed at how analytics and data could help inform the design of a product, and I was eager to learn more about how to build functional, beautiful products and processes. This led to my enrolment in a UX Design course during the lockdown. For me, it's been fantastic to combine a different set of skills, an analytical mindset, empathy, and science to enhance the user experience.
Sarah: When I was at university I studied Cognitive Science and I found myself loving learning about people and our many different mental processes. I started to gain a deeper understanding of humans and desire to put this knowledge and passion to use. I’ve always loved being surrounded by creative atmospheres. When I came across User Experience I realised I could put these two passions together and additionally make an impact on the world. It took a lot of dedication and grit, but I allocated my post-grad time to teaching myself the foundations. It wasn’t until I got an internship with a startup and had the flexibility to learn under the product team that I really came to fully grasp the world of UX. I haven’t looked back since then.
Why did you choose to start that journey with Inviqa?
Kirsten: I actually found Inviqa back when I started learning to code. I was trying to figure out what to learn so I looked at job postings for developers near me. I looked through Inviqa’s website and immediately thought, “I have to get a job here!”. The culture is amazing and the leadership is phenomenal. Inviqa values empathy, curiosity, and togetherness and promotes life-long learning and flexible working. As a mum of 2, flexible working gives me the ability to do really great work but still have a great home life as well.
Gian Marco: While in my job search phase, I came across so many different startups and agencies, but as soon as I found out Inviqa was hiring, they immediately stood out. Even in the early stages of the interview process the Inviqa culture was clear and present. I was impressed with the focus on learning because coming from a design course, that’s what I wanted from my first design job, the opportunity to learn. In addition, Inviqa cares about its employees' well-being, every voice is heard, and all employees feel valuable.
Sarah: Inviqa stood out to me because of their strong sense of culture that is blatantly obvious from the moment you speak to anyone on the team. I had a connection to Ila Masciave, Senior UX Designer at Inviqa, who immediately enlightened me to her uniquely positive experience since joining Inviqa. The aspect that stood out the most about Inviqan culture is their human-first approach to their employees.
What does a typical day look like?
Kirsten: I live in Sheffield but my team is based in London so I work remotely most of the time. I travel down to the London office every other Friday and I work from the Sheffield office 1-2 days a week. I usually start work around 9:30. We have a daily meeting for whatever project I am working on to discuss what we did the day before, what we are working on that day and any problems we might be having. The rest of the day will be spent working on the project which could include: meeting with clients or other designers to collaborate; doing research or testing; analysis; designing in Figma; writing reports, etc. Our work day is fairly flexible around client meetings so some days I will be finished at 5-5:30 other days I have a break mid day to pick up my kids and then finish up working in the evening. On Fridays, the entire XD team spends the morning learning new skills together.
Gian Marco: I usually bike to the office and start work around 9:30 (depending on how long the line at the barista is :D); my day changes according to the project I'm working on, but it usually involves meetings where we plan out the day and figure out any blockers or updates on the project. The rest of the day usually includes designing or organising UT workshops and analysing data. Lunch and small breaks throughout the day help me make sure I’m approaching my work with a clear, refreshed perspective.
Sarah: Everyday looks a little different. With projects changing at different intervals and the flexible working model, I have the chance to really shape my days around my current needs. Every morning, of course, starts with a hot cup of coffee. Generally, Monday - Thursday I’ll work on external project work, whether that’s individually or collaboratively. I have the choice of whether I want to be in the office or not, which is great. On Fridays we typically gather in the office as an XD team and learn new skills together!
Which areas of your job excite you the most?
Kirsten: My favourite part of the design process is looking at the data after we do a round of usability testing, analysing it and figuring out solutions to improve the product. Usability testing is very humbling but also very rewarding when you are able to make improvements that really benefit people.
Gian Marco: My favourite part is presenting design solutions to the clients. After researching and analysing data, you can finally produce the solutions that hopefully will please the client and eventually enhance the user experience. Getting live feedback on so much hard work is a thrill.
Sarah: I honestly couldn’t choose if I had to. The whole job and the whole UX process has me geeking out most days. I love everything from researching a space and a target user to analysing the problem space and working within limitations to produce a valuable outcome. The thing I look forward to is the fact that no day will be the same!
What’s Inviqa’s design culture like?
Kirsten: As a new designer, coming into a very experienced team was pretty scary to say the least but the entire team has been so welcoming and supportive. From the beginning it has always been ,”What do you want to learn? What do you want to achieve?” and “How can we help you do that?” On every project I have been given the opportunity to learn by doing rather than just having to sit back and watch.
Gian Marco: Starting a new job can be daunting; for me, it was both starting a new career and a new job. However from day one I was welcomed as part of the team. The design team is supportive, and everyone is helping you set and reach your goals. I learn something new every day, and I feel so lucky to be part of Inviqa.
Sarah: Inviqa culture was the reason I was keen on joining the team. The XD team is extremely forward-thinking and human-centred. They’re talented and intelligent, but equally as humble, patient and supportive. They truly want you to succeed here and will always challenge you to push yourself into spaces you may find daunting. There’s always the opportunity to grow and learn, and in fact you’re pushed to do so.
Any advice for people looking to move into design from a different career?
Kirsten: DO IT. I know it’s scary to learn something new but you have to just go for it. Find a course, learn the design process and start designing. Share your work, collaborate with others, volunteer, ask for help when you need it. Take every opportunity you can to learn and improve and don’t forget to network. Without LinkedIn I never would have found the opportunity to work for Inviqa.
Gian Marco: Believe in yourself, and don't underestimate your past experience. The design world is constantly changing; it needs people with different backgrounds and experiences. Everything can be translated into design, so don't be afraid to jump in. You’ll be surprised at how much of your past personal and professional experiences will help inform your future designs. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and support you, don't be afraid to ask questions, seek feedback, and try to learn something new every day.
Sarah: I think my biggest advice is to absolutely leverage your background. The beauty of UX is that people from all walks of life have moved into this space and that special expertise they bring to the table throws in a new perspective the next person may not have thought of. Experience design is centred around understanding and empathising with people, so whatever experiences of your own you can use to step into someone else’s shoes becomes invaluable.
My other piece of advice is to start networking as soon as you think you want to jump into design. Find designers who inspire you and are willing to help. Ask them questions on what you should be learning and ask them for feedback and advice. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.