Name Dropping is a Q&A series that aims to elevate the stories of women and nonbinary people leading in the tech space. The idea came from Angela DeFranco, a VP of Product at HubSpot, who said one way to be better allies is to name drop more women and nonbinary people in discussions of achievement, inspiration, and disruptors in tech, instead of referencing, time and again, the same set of (often male) leaders.
You’re currently President and Partner at Leading Results, Inc., a marketing and advertising agency, as well as their Creative Director and Director of UX. What have you learned about leadership over the course of your career growth?
It’s been quite an interesting journey. I think my primary learning is that we often think of leadership as being at the forefront and being the decision maker. But leadership is more about listening, understanding, and nurturing a shared vision. It’s less about leading the way and more about motivating others and providing a space where innovation can thrive.
What’s the most interesting or challenging (or both!) project you’re working on right now?
The most interesting project I am working on now is our own rebrand. I think COVID-19 redefined a lot of priorities for us and truly gave us a glimpse into the future of marketing, consumers, and business. We are in the process of taking our learnings and future vision and using that to create and mold the vision of the future we want for our own company.
Talk about someone who’s been integral to your career, either as an inspiration or a mentor. What did they teach you? (You don’t need to know them personally.)
Someone who has been integral to my career and growth is Gary Vee. Gary has been a massive source of inspiration and most importantly the voice I have chosen to listen to when doubt and fear threaten to cloud my belief in my own vision. I think oftentimes realism and what’s practical are my default, but Gary Vee reminds me to be a dreamer and to push to make sure that I am building a company where I get to serve in the ways that bring me joy.
You’ve held several different roles over the course of your career, from digital media manager to developer. How did you find your way to UX?
I started out as a developer with a huge emphasis on design. I’ve come to realize over time that design is important but user experience is even more so. Function, behavior, and meeting expectations of behavior have grown significantly in relevance. I made the leap as I tried to find ways for users to engage with the content and designs we were creating in a more meaningful way. I think that leap was absolutely the right one. One great example is from watching my daughters play Roblox. If you are not familiar with Roblox, it’s a web game with the worst graphics you could possibly imagine. However, they have created an environment that is interactive and offers thousands of games, including games that imitate other, less readily available, games. My girls absolutely love it. When I ask them how they are able to work through the horrible graphics they immediately reply with answers regarding function that supersede their desire for better graphics.
What’s one book you think every UX leader should read?
One of my personal favorites is Don’t Make Me Think. I think social media and Amazon have become so successful because they are highly intuitive and help the user accomplish basic tasks without thinking about it too much. That’s the subject of the book: how to reduce friction for the end user by making it as easy as possible to interact with your product/service.
You have a degree in computer science and history. How did you choose that focus area, and what lessons have you taken from it throughout your career?
My father was a history teacher in the Dominican Republic. Growing up, he would always share long historical accounts and the value of knowing history for the progression of humanity. Since then I became a lover of history and a pursuer of understanding of major historical events that shifted humanity. As I arrived in college I quickly realized that there weren’t too many career choices for me with history alone. I took a single development class and immediately fell in love with coding. I decided to pursue computer science with a focus on artificial intelligence and although I didn’t go that route, I find that the things that I learned in those classes are still very applicable today where technology continues to advance at an incredible pace. The marriage of these two subjects has in many ways shaped my view of the world. I take a look at small shifts in technology and always wonder what the larger impact of that shift will be on the world. My biggest takeaway so far is don’t underestimate how easily one app, one invention, one thought can change our entire world.
Who’s one woman or nonbinary person whose name you’d like to drop and why?
Someone I would love to name drop is Fatima Dicko. She is a college peer of mine and Founder & CEO of a venture-backed consumer tech company. She’s raised over $1MM to expand mobile marketplaces to college campuses around the country. Though we don’t have an opportunity to speak often, I am always following her career and launches. The journey of entrepreneurship can be so discouraging and it’s always helpful to see other bosses around you doing great work that inspires you to keep going.
When the pandemic is over, what are you most looking forward to doing again?
When the pandemic is over I am most excited about traveling to Paris! At the start of the pandemic I experienced a lot of anxiety and uncertainty and decided to channel that into something more useful! So I began learning French. I went from 0 French knowledge to being pretty comfortable with intermediate level conversations. I’m continuing to learn the language and would love an opportunity to test my skills an expand my knowledge in a trip!
Know another woman or nonbinary person whose name we should drop? Tweet us at @HubSpotDev with ideas.
This post originally appeared on Medium.
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