In 2020 out of curiosity and the desire for a new challenge, I began to my own amazement with coding. This adventure led me to give up my career as a facility manager. I am currently studying UX design in Sweden, occasionally developing websites and actively shaping a product for a Swedish startup.
Product design for everyone
As a designer, one principle I follow is to design products that are accessible to all different kinds of people and interest groups. I can only achieve this through being aware of all the different needs. In turn, I can only learn about these needs by exchanging them with individual interest groups. Diversity and inclusion in my work are therefore requirements, and I believe they are essential for a successful company or product. It is not only in the interest of the product but also in my own interest to work in diverse teams and organizations. I only learn and grow through new impulses, perspectives, and experiences. This allows me to expand my horizons and repertoire of tools and methods and learn from others’ experiences. As such this is probably also based on my belief that it is more about the art of involving the right people at the right time and asking the right questions rather than working with one’s own limited knowledge and assuming that it is sufficient. I wish that diversity and inclusion were seen much more as opportunities they are rather than as additional challenges to overcome.
Facing team conflicts with methods
Of course, this requires the efforts and willingness of all people involved. In my class, the most diverse characters from a total of 11 nations from five continents are represented. For each project/module, we are randomly assigned, teams. This means that different needs, experiences, and approaches come together, which must be united. With each new team, a new unique dynamic emerges and is often accompanied by conflicts. However, with the right methods, we learn to use these conflicts to our advantage and grow as a team. I underestimated the importance of taking time for team development. I previously tended to become productive quickly and start with the task at hand instead of using the time to clarify personal needs within the teams. Recently, it has become very clear to me how incredibly valuable this time is. It can make the “productive phase” more effective and successful. It is also becoming apparent that the more familiar those involved are with these methods, the less time we need to effectively spend on team development
Learn from others
What I mean by this is that for me, diversity and inclusion do not stop with job placement. It rather begins there. It is more about how they are effectively lived in teams and organizations to create an atmosphere where everyone can recognize themselves in some way in the organization. Therefore they can then contribute together to something larger. It is already helpful if one can put one’s own ego aside. You have to be open and curious towards other colleagues, and bring the willingness to learn from others. This quickly leads to acting more in the interest of the product or company than out of one’s own interests. Once we achieve this as a team, we usually enter a kind of flow state. We start really enjoying our work, which has been evident in the final product every time so far.
Recognizing time and time again how valuable diverse perspectives are in work personally strengthens me. Especially as a career changer, the feeling often arises that one does truly belong or holds back views, opinions, or inputs due to a lack of industry experience. But this perspective is incredibly valuable. It brings a fresh and new perspective, and one can challenge blind spots. I wish for myself, but also for all who dare to change careers, not to underestimate themselves in this regard. It is never too late, and you are never too old to learn something new or redefine yourself. The more diverse your background, the more diverse and unique your contribution at work will be. My advice is: follow your interests, be curious, take every opportunity that is offered to you, and let yourself be inspired and supported by all the countless communities, and give back the same!
My professional reorientation began about 2 ½ years ago and I have learned so much new about myself, as well as in terms of expertise and methodology. I feel joy in my work that I did not think was possible before. I owe much of this to the people I have met during this time who have supported me, and I look forward to giving back and contributing to more diversity and inclusion in the industry and organizations.
Connect with Noemi on LinkedIn and follow her career path in coding and UX Design!
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