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 Micha Nicheva…
A service designer trying to learn more about people every day. I like solving problems, creating clarity and putting technology to good use.
How did you start your career in UX?
I started out as an art director in advertising where I found myself using human insights to promote products. Very quickly I grew frustrated with the industry as I had no way of shaping the product itself, but only the story that surrounded it. I became curious about UX and service design. I started spending my evenings and weekends reading about it and going out to meet people that worked in UX. It took a few jobs, including a humbling internship to navigate out of the communications business and into product and service design.
What is a typical day for you?
I work at a consultancy, which means that there isn’t a typical day. It all depends on the nature of the project which can vary from strategic discovery work through to delivery and product build.
I am usually 100% immersed in a project for a specific duration of time. For example, some projects have me designing and delivering training to hundreds of police officers. Others are spent prototyping, testing and iterating new services for commuters. Service design touches every part of a business which makes it very collaborative – I would usually work on site with the client, sharing their space and keeping them closely involved in the process. To close the gap between strategy and reality I also spend a lot of time on follow-the-sun conference calls with our tech teams across the globe. This allows us to bring new services to life quickly and put them into the hands of users where they can begin to grow and evolve.
What do you recommend to someone who wants to start a career in UX?
When choosing a career path:
If you can, explore several roles and workplaces. Start-ups are very different to large organisations; an in-house job is different to a consultancy. Some places would focus you on pure UX design work, others would need you to wear many hats at the same time. There are several disciplines within UX and you may find that research or strategy draws you more than design or vice versa. Don’t be afraid to take some work experience if a good one becomes available. A decent internship should compensate you reasonably for your time and teach you about what you enjoy and what you are good at. It would immerse you in the industry and help you make useful connections.
When it comes to the daily work:
– Question your assumptions and welcome being proven wrong.
– Learn to challenge others’ assumptions and opinions respectfully and with kindness.
– Inspire curiosity in your team and your clients, that will help everyone to leave their ego to the side and focus on solving the problems.
– Services and products exist for the people who use them, you may be surprised how often you would need to remind your clients and team members that.
What is the best advice you have received in your career?
Seek to gain knowledge from everything and share what you know with others. Move on from a job if you feel that you have stopped learning.
What is the future of UX for you?
I’m pleased to see that currently more and more businesses understand the value of customer centricity. What I’d like to see in the future is a shift towards continuous improvement being the baseline – more organisations that know there isn’t such thing as ‘done’. People change and so do their needs, expectations and behaviours. Adapting and evolving with them is a rational and sustainable way forward. The role of service design and UX is to ensure that organisations keep learning – consistently, strategically and with rigorously gathered and analysed data informing all decision making.