Career talk

on Ben’s Blog

I was invited to give a talk about my career journey to the current cohort at CMU's MIIPS program.

As I reflected on my career thus far, I pulled out a few themes.

Empathize with people. Having worked at MAYA, however briefly, I absorbed this notion of keeping humans at the center of my work. Connecting with customers and colleagues has made my journey a rich and exciting experience.

Break the silos. I've worked at a lot of different companies and have seen the validity of Conway's Law. By recognizing this tendency (or perhaps inevitability) of your organization, you can look for ways to mitigate its effects.

For example, my current organization has very vertical structures of Product Management, User Experience, and Engineering. I've started and run a guild that gathers the latter two groups (for now) to establish a line of communication. Even among just engineering teams, there is not much direct communication, so this forum provides one mechanism.

Make UX friends. I've always found user experience practitioners to be great allies. They tend to be wonderful listeners. They are usually intimately familiar with proving the value of design, so they're battle-hardened and equipped. They're eager to find partners outside of their organization to work with.

I used Kinopio for my presentation (you'll need to scroll southeast):