Every month we ask one individual in our network a few questions about their way into tech, their motivation and their lessons learned.
Let’s start from the beginning. Tell us about where you’re from!
I grew up in Basel and studied Interaction Design at the Hyperwerk FHNW. After seven years at Zeix (that’s an agency for usability and user education in Switzerland), I headed to Australia to do my MBA. It’s a pretty good place to live, so I stayed and deepened my UX skills at Deloitte Digital, a Service Design agency which is also a large bank. Two years ago my husband and I decided to move back to Switzerland where I joined the startup Scope and teach UX at HSLU (University of Applied Science in Lucerne).
What valuable advice did you get from your parents?
Whenever we complained about something, for example our school, the government or some other institution did, my mum always said, “Write them a letter.” It shaped my belief that you can contribute to change and should never feel helpless. My dad lived a very simple life: he didn’t have a lot of stuff at home, he had no car; he was happy to sit somewhere with nothing but a nice view in front of him. It wasn’t so much direct advice from him, but he showed me that it doesn’t take much to enjoy life.
How did you become interested in tech?
I started using a Macintosh Plus and then the XO when I went to mum’s office and had to wait for her to finish work. I started typing stories, but unfortunately I wasn’t aware of the function of the space key for a long time, so they were a bit hard to read. I also composed music, played games and just loved the possibilities.
Once in high school and once at my first job at a web development agency, I realised I wanted to make technology more accessible to people, which is how I ended up in the field of usability.
What aspects of your work are you proudest of?
When I see some of “my” products out there, of course. But what’s even cooler is when someone says, “hey, I can now see the value of UX,” or one of my students does really well in their job.
What drives you at work?
I still really get a kick out of making things easier. Every few years there is a new technology or aspect of it and initially people find it too complicated or cumbersome to use. It used to be websites, then there was this idea of using internet on your mobile phone and today it’s voice assistants and VR. Plus people are such weird, complicated, interesting creatures – I still really love user research because you learn something new every time.
What has been your toughest challenge you faced while working in tech?
“To quota or to not quota…?” I used to hate quotas, yet it’s 2018 and nothing has happened. Some my female friends don’t want to move up the ladder, because they can’t stand the atmosphere on management level. Others don’t want to or don’t know how to “play the game.” And it starts much further down: I teach at a university and the number of female students in computer science is still shockingly low. Are quotas an answer?
What advice would you give other women in tech?