Each month we introduce you to one of our Mentors and ask them a few questions about their career and thoughts on UX.
This month we talked to Andreas Conradi
Who is Andreas Conradi?
Hi, I’m Andreas. I live with my wife and our 2 kids in North London. I’m a UX and Service Designer eager to create positive outcomes for people and business through design. Currently I am working with Red Badger helping blue chip clients with their digital transformation. This means working with them to establish customer-centric practices; building the right conditions to test and learn from customers continuously while applying lean and agile processes to minimise waste. We do this by running ways-of-working sessions with our clients and practicing design in true cross-functional teams on client’s projects.
How did you start your career in UX?
I studied communication design in Düsseldorf, Germany. Which has helped me learn how to think and present with visual strength and clarity. Over the past 10 years I have had the opportunity to work in a variety of industries. From advertisement in Sao Paulo, to UX design in an art foundation in Amsterdam. I even experienced working as an Art Director for a luxury industry in London, a friend called this the indulgent phase, with very few limitations to what is possible and how the design is produced.
But I was missing the substance, the positive impact on people’s lives that we can have through our design. This realisation helped me to focus on UX and Service Design which I am passionately presenting in our consultancy and within our client’s organisations.
What is a typical day for you?
I wake up and prepare early breakfast for our kids, play a bit and bring them to kindergarten. At work I check in Slack and email and join our morning standup. Red Badger works in cross-functional ways. This means standups are typically joined by our agile coach, engineers, a visual designer, a UX designer and any stakeholder that likes joining on that day. Depending on the tasks we might invite copywriter or subject matter experts as well. We walk along the Kanban board and tell the team what we did yesterday, anything we like to share for reviews or to discuss with the team. We share any blockers so it is easy for the team to help to resolve them. For lunch I like to meet colleagues working on the other projects to stay in the loop, or friends in the UX/Service Design community. I try to never lunch alone, or at Pret. Every other week the UX team catches up over their OKRs, we do critique and mentoring sessions to learn from each other.
What do you recommend to someone who wants to start a career in UX?
Try out many different things and see what environments helps you become your best self. Find a good boss to work for, this makes all the difference.
Become aware of your personal strengths and weaknesses. Work on your weaknesses, to the extent that they do not become a stumbling block. And play with your natural strengths. Take any opportunity to learn and practice till you become truly great in them. Reflect on how much value, financial or other you add through the work you do, and make sure you get rewarded properly.
What is the best advice you have received in your career?
When I was graduating, one of my professors told me “never stop learning”. He add that whatever your salary is make sure you invest 10% of it in learning. [No hardware allowed, just trainings and books]. This was great advice and I have managed to hit that target in most years.
You mentioned your kids. How do you organise work and family between you and your partner? What has it changed in your life?
I love our kids’ open curiosity and boundless fascination for literally anything. I have never spoken to more garbage truck drivers, zookeepers, and pilots in my life. In terms of day-to-day organisation, we see couples slowly moving into very traditional roles, against all their intentions. We have both chosen jobs we love and having kids was an equally conscious and wholehearted decision for both of us. For us this means sharing the responsibilities and having a shared understanding of the challenges of parenting. What I found astonishing was that for men reducing work time to look after a young family seems surprising. At the same time it is rather expected from women. We aim to balance our family responsibilities and joys on equal terms.
What is the future of UX for you?
UX designers need to be user advocates, today more than ever. To design meaningful services we want to be empathetic and truly curious about the challenge.
I see two trends in the design roles emerging: Designers acting as facilitators unlocking collaboration between different teams in the business, become the departmental super-glue. Their key focus is on human needs, how these can be best fulfilled through the services we build and what is required to make them real. Finally, with these broadening roles we are seeing the emergence of specialisms along the new design materials, such as AI and voice activated systems.