Meet Your Lead Tutor

Written by: Emily on April 13, 2018
Tags: Interviews, Role Model, Women in Tech

With our second InnovateHer programme starting next Tuesday at Westleigh High, we thought it’s about time that we introduced the lead tutor on the programme. Meet Suzanne Irving!

Sue Headshot

Sue is a Junior User Experience (UX) Designer at the BBC and is based here in the North West at Media City. But she hasn’t always been a UX Designer and her path into the tech industry hasn’t been a straight one. Sue worked in retail as a graphic designer before discovering her passion for tech.

Here’s her story….

What skills do you think you need to do your job?

User Experience Design is a really broad subject. There’s a huge variety of skills required if you wanted to cover the complete breadth of the profession. In a nutshell, it’s all about making the user experience better, improving it all the time.

You can’t know everything, so we’re all constantly learning and keeping up to date with new methods and skills. For me, key skills such as User Research methods, Usability testing, wireframing, prototyping and visual communication are a good starting point if you wanted to research some of the industry terminology. Don’t worry if you don’t yet know what any of those terms mean – it will all become clear once you get into it!

Soft skills such as active listening and observation are important too, as is stakeholder engagement and being genuinely curious about problems and how to solve them.

Designing informed by data is really exciting, for me it was a whole new way of working!

What personal attributes or behaviours do you need to do your job?

Being a great collaborator is key. Also being friendly, a good listener and empathic are really important. Having the ability to listen to others and aiming to understand how different people think in different ways to ourselves; this is definitely needed in UX.

We’re never designing for ourselves, so you have to let go of your own opinions and be open to many iterations (versions) to meet both the customer / user and business needs.

How did you get to where you are today in your career?

I left school and began a youth training scheme to become a civil engineer. After 12 months, I then changed my mind and switched into Graphic Design. Over the years, I’ve worked for various in-house studios and design agencies throughout the North West. I was self-employed for over 10 years and then took a position as a Design Manager for a large high street retailer.
After a couple of years in retail, I felt bored, stale and ready for a change. I decided to focus on design and technology, which I’ve always been fascinated with, and that’s how I discovered User Experience design. It’s never too late to learn a new skill!

Any advice for a young person who might want to do this as a career?

The best way to learn is to just do. I began to build up case studies for my UX design portfolio by taking on freelance projects in my own time.
Design is about solving problems, so find a problem or pain point that you think you can fix or improve. Show your complete design process from researching the problem and insights on existing user experience problems, right through to creating wireframes and designs. They don’t have to be perfect, polished designs. You can test with paper prototypes, it’s really simple. Being able to talk confidently about your design decisions is important. Be enthusiastic and always ask lots of questions and be polite, it really can set you apart.
Doing a job that you absolutely love is a real thrill! I’m currently working in Children’s BBC on the games team and collaborate with producers and external agencies to ensure the CBBC and CBeebies games we make for children are fun, exciting and inclusive to all. Follow your dreams!
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