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Design & UX

Anna-Maree Leigh, Design Manager at AskNicely

Having dreamt of becoming a nurse or an architect when she was younger, working for a tech company was never really on the radar for Anna-Maree Leigh, Design Manager at AskNicely

We caught up with Anna-Maree to learn more about her career journey into tech, some of the misconceptions about the industry and role designers play, as well as some great advice for people that might be considering tech as a career path. Thanks for sharing your story, Anna-Maree.

“I work with our designers to research, design and test our product so that it is easy to use, efficient and helps our users do what they need to do.”

Firstly, how would you explain to a five year old what it is you do?

I make sure people will be able to use our website. I choose the colours and pictures that are displayed and work out when you click each button what happens next.

And for the adults, what does that translate to in regards to your day-to-day?

I work with our designers to research, design and test our product so that it is easy to use, efficient and helps our users do what they need to do. I make sure we are consistent in our design and are delighting our customers, all while meeting our business goals.

What are some of the common misconceptions about working in product/tech?

You need to be highly intelligent, analytical, and good with numbers and the only job is coding. In tech and product, you do need these people but we also need creative people and people who are logical, practical, and people people. There is a place for everyone.

The other misconception if you work in tech or product, is you can fix everything to do with computers, devices, and appliances. You are IT support (especially for family).

“I was going to be a nurse or an architect.”

Was working in tech something you dreamed about doing as a kid, if not what was?

Not at all, to be honest it wasn’t really even something that registered with me. I was going to be a nurse or an architect.

Tell us a little bit more about your career journey and ultimately about how you ended up working at AskNicely? 

I actually did a graphic design degree. User experience wasn’t a thing and there certainly weren’t any university UX papers on offer.

While on my OE, I worked in Canada and London for some big name companies doing print and digital design. By the time I came back to New Zealand I slotted into a UX designer role. It happened to be a right place, right time type scenario.

Previously I’ve worked in Fintech and Video Services e.g. banking apps and tv/video streaming apps. I’ve been lucky enough to have traveled to Australia and Asia getting companies adopting great user experiences.

I then got a position at AskNicely as a Senior UX Designer, then moved into a UX researcher role as we pivoted into a new direction.

I’m now the Design Manager looking after our designers making sure we are consistent in our design approach and creating great experiences for our users.

What do you think are some of the benefits of being a woman working in tech? 

We have different values and experiences to bring to the table and when you’re the only female sitting at that table you get your moment more often than not. You just have to be willing to put your thoughts out there.

“... talk to as many people in the tech industry as you can.”

Do you have any advice for people considering tech as a career path and how they might get there quicker?

This is something you probably hear all the time, but talk to people, talk to as many people in the tech industry as you can. Use the information you find out and match that with your strengths and interests.

Then when you do start out on your tech career, get yourself a mentor and really listen to their advice. They have already experienced the things you are going through and have valuable advice to pass on.

A good mentor is valuable no matter what stage of your career you are in.

Something to keep in mind when you do start out is that tech is a team sport. You can’t do it all on your own. You will get much better outcomes if you work as a team and collaborate. 

What is it specifically that you like about working AskNicely? 

We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We listen to our users and we take their feedback onboard. We are so young we get the opportunity to try things and if they don’t work out we still have the ability to change, adapt and evolve.

One other key thing which I believe is hugely important is a work/life balance and getting that right is so important. AskNicely gives you the flexibility to do just that. I believe we should do the hours we are paid for and do an exceptional job within those hours.

Life is for living and you can’t spend your whole life working, you need to go out and enjoy life away from work. Your work will be better off for it. 

Lastly, AskNicely continues to grow and evolve.  What kind of candidates do you think AskNicely is looking for in terms of experience, attitude and character?

We want those that are enthusiastic and happy to give something a go. Those that speak up and share their opinions and ideas.

Those that are open to feedback and those that are continually learning and pushing themselves. Motivated and enthusiastic individuals with great attitudes go a long way.

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