#06 - Laura Hedeen - Opening a Preschool in Israel, Being One Of The First TDP Designers & Becoming Product Designer at Salesforce

Sep 1, 2022Dianne Eberhardt

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify,  Stitcher, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform. You can watch the interview on YouTube here.




Dianne: Welcome to the pixelated. Perfect podcast. Laura, thank you so much for being on the podcast. This is pixelated perfect. And what? I'm really excited to introduce our listeners to is Laura, who is an amazingly talented UI/UX designer I know her because she actually worked for Design Project about a year ago, maybe longer time is weird. But yeah, so she and from Design Project she moved up and on and she is currently a lead, ux UI designer at Salesforce. So super awesome, super excited to dive more into kind of where she got started and kind of where she is today and what's in store for the future. So, thank you so much for being here Laura.

Laura: Yeah, thanks. Thanks for having me. And it's fun to catch up and see what Design Project is doing. And I love following you guys. So thanks for having me.

Dianne: Yes, of course. Very exciting. So usually what I would like to start off with is just kind of hearing your story. Like, how did you get into design? What were those like, big steps in your career, that has really gotten you to where you are today, and maybe some failures things that didn't work as good as you expected and that got you here today.

Laura: Yeah. So I have a pretty unusual. I mean, I feel like all designers have kind of like a swervy path to get to where they are. But - particularly swervy or curvy. I actually graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in education and I decided that I wanted to live abroad. I wanted to leave the United States, so I did I moved to Israel. Well, and when I was there, I decided to open up my own business. My degree was in education. I loved working with kids, I saw that there was kind of a need for English-speaking schools over there and I just, you know, at 23 I was like, yeah, I'm going to open a preschool, that's totally a normal thing to do in a different country. So I did. And one of the things that I did while I, you know, was starting this business was I built my own website and I ended up building kind of like a place for parents to log in and to see what was going on with their kids. And I really enjoyed this very specific part of owning a business. And from that, I started reaching out to a lot of my other friends who had small businesses or startups, or wherein also the education space to be like hey what websites do you need built? What products are you looking to start? How can I reach out and just find Opportunities to kind of try design and from there, I ended up getting I started to get paid for that work. Which was exciting. So so freelancing was, you know what, I started to do after some time? So kind of removed myself from the education business started freelancing, doing some things, kind of marketing design, a few things in writing as well, just kind of exercising a lot of different things that I could do that. I knew would lead me into the path of a design career and then kind of moved back to the United States in 2020 when it was covid and wasn't really like a decision, I was more like a decision that was made for me. It was time to time time to stop traveling and in 2020 and realize that it was, you know, maybe also time just start getting some more full-time, regular types of roles. I know. And now I'm mixing up my timeline, but at some point I started at Design Project and that was actually one of my more, you know, one of my, one of my more regular types of ux design positions. And and I loved working with design project because I got to work on different products and projects and, you know, so it's I mean I don't know if there's no, but it's a, you know, a design agencies and we were you guys work with startups. So that was really fun and I got to try a lot of new things. And it was also fun not to be in the seat where I had to find, you know, projects and work. Like that was that was great working in a design agency and it gave me a lot of, you know, opportunities to just get have new experiences and try new design Solutions, and work with different people. After that, I did decide that I wanted to look for working for one single company. I was kind of, like, all right, I'm ready to commit to one product, and one company, I started interviewing around and I really connected with just a people in a job that was at Tableau, which turned into Salesforce and got a lead, ux UI design role there and I've been there for about a year and a half and things are always changing, which is crazy because you think that in a big company it would be. They wouldn't be as much change like there is in startups, but there is so. So yeah that's that's where that's, that's how I got to where I am and it's been, it's been a fun ride. I love, I love the industry and I love the work.

Dianne: That's awesome. Yeah, I this definitely refreshed my memory of kind of like your background and like it's fascinating and everyone does have an interesting story, but I think yours is especially interesting because you kind of start you, you had your own thing, you started your own company. I want to, I would have kind of dissect that for you because I think that's so fascinating. Can you like what was it about starting your own preschool that what wasn't? Why did you decide to start your own preschool?

Laura: Yeah, so I went so I went to Israel and I was like, you know, I'm going to try to work in education. I'm gonna, you know, just try to find a job and I really didn't like I didn't see any school that I fit in with that, I had the same kind of philosophy that I agreed with the same kind of curriculum that I would side with, which is a little bit more child-led and kind of it's just less like, strict I would say or less prescribed. So I kind of saw that and then you know, just really from talking to a lot of people in the community in the English-speaking Community with families. There definitely was a lack of English-speaking schools. And you know, maybe this was me being kind of young and thinking at what could go wrong. But I was like, no problem. I'll just make my own and and then starting small and I think this can apply to pretty much any business, but I started really small. I just had, I started with a few, a few kids in like, a home-based school and then was able to, you know, get word-of-mouth out and really grow in. Then I rented like a commercial space and then expanded into multiple spaces. So yeah. That, that was that the reason why and it ended actually worked out. I was really, it's funny to think about but I was actually really well-known like in our small preschool English-speaking community of Tel Aviv for, you know, like everyone really loved my school, and they also agreed with that kind of philosophy that I had with the school, and it was actually really successful, but there was a time when I kind of looked around and realized that I didn't want to be so location, dependent and having a business that is location dependent. So a school or you know, anything where you're like, renting a property or hiring people that have to go in every day you just don't have as much flexibility physically. You know, I still have the flexibility to work when I wanted and to take time off and that was wonderful. But I my mind was always on the school. No matter what I was doing and I wanted something that was more flexible, which led me to start, you know, continuing to think about a design role.

Dianne: Yeah. No, that's great. And I think that's interesting that last point that you said in like at Design Project, we are fully remote. And I know that I love travel. I know that you absolutely love travel and so I think that is kind of like a big selling point for this industry as you can do it from anywhere everywhere and be successful at it. So I completely relate to that piece of it, not not as starting a preschool because that's very unique and super fascinating. Is there anything that you can take away from running your own business or specifically in the preschool space that you kind of use today and design?

Laura: It's a really interesting question. There was there definitely was a lot. So, one thing that we learned a lot about in, like, education was cultural competencies so because you're a teacher and you have to work with, you know, 30 or more, whatever the number is students, you know, they're not all going to be the same person or family or background. So we actually had to learn a lot about being culturally competent and accepting and really kind of making new ways of whether it was teaching or just child, just child just caretaking for a number of different backgrounds and styles of Learners. And that is something that I found a lot of. How do you say like the similarities with Building Products? Because it's the same idea where you're building a product for anyone like anyone can depending on the product. If there's, you know, you can have one that's more focused towards a specific type of user. But more often than not, you need to be ready to make something that's going to work for people of all backgrounds, and all, you know, thought processes and styles of learning. And so that, that was one thing that I thought really connected.

Dianne: Yeah, that's fascinating. Especially now that like accessibility and design is such a trendy thing. It's like building for everyone building for an older person or a child or someone that's colorblind. So many different factors. So that is really interesting and I'm sure a lot of those things that you learned, you could kind of take away and kind of bring it into product design. Yeah, that's yeah, I love that connection.

Laura: Yeah. And one thing I did forget to, I actually realized I forgot to mention two important things in my intro, but one thing that's related to this is I did kind of think about I was thinking about, what are the kinds of companies that might value my previous experience and education. So I really did start looking for whether it was some contract, freelance positions or full-time. I was trying to look for edtech companies because I thought they would and they did they valued, you know, my background and education or, you know, other small things like even my own interests. I you know, I'm really into scuba diving. So I think for a little bit I was like maybe I can try to apply for places that are you know, ocean friendly or something like that. So I was really trying to kind of use my non originally design background to my advantage and find where I could really resonate with companies that share my same interests and values.

Dianne: Yeah, I totally, I think a lot of like Junior designers out there. That's a great point is like find something that you're passionate about and make that connection because I think especially starting out if InDesign like you being passion, you actually using the product will give you a one up on being able to to kind of put yourself in those users shoes. So I think that's a really great place to like start and then as you learn those techniques and skills you can take on projects that may be a little outside of your your comfort zone or your passion, but I think that's really great advice. And yeah, I think that's just that's yeah that's great. I want to talk about. So one thing you mentioned and kind of like that aha moment of design was when you're working on your business website. So what was that? Like what it was? Did you build it from scratch? Did you learn code? Did you use something like Squarespace? What did you do there?

Laura: Yeah, so I use I used Wix actually. That's what I used. Also I was in Israel and like everyone in Israel loves Wicks. So I was using Wix and I started really simply like you know, like I mean with Wix you can now they have crazy things but you know, this was like eight or ten years ago and it was kind of like, you know, but it was still drag and drop like you could just you know drag your swears and fix your links and stuff like that. And then I was able to get I kind of dug into it and you can do like a developer mode and so you can actually go in and edit things with code. So as I got more comfortable with it, that the first part of it, I was like, I just want to, like, show people that I exist. And here's what I offer and that's, I just put it up, but it was fun to, you know, do the colors and fall and send everything and upload. And then as we got more into it I was like wait, let me see what more functionality I can use, what else can I help? My use this website to actually be a part of my business instead of just kind of being a front page for my business.

Dianne: I think a lot of designers or even developers, they kind of get their start where they just like Tinker with with a platform that's easy to use and actually was having this conversation at their day about like these plugin. In play platforms. And is it making? Is it going to take over like the designers jobs? And I was like, no, like I love these platforms. I think they're amazing, I think it's a great way for everyone to be able to, like, have access to be able to design their own websites to be able to design their own social media. Like, I think that it's not replacing design, especially product design, which is a lot of thought and other things besides just making something pretty, I guess, but I really enjoyed that conversation. What do you think about about kind of using those those platforms in those Plug and Play.

Laura: Yeah, I so I really like them a lot for for the same reason that you're empowering small, businesses to be able to create their own kind of websites. And in some cases, people to start, you know, a new side hustle or, you know, I think that's really, really cool. And then the other, the other ones that are really cool, now is things like canva or I know Adobe expressed just came out. So it's kind of the same thing where, you know, you don't have to spend either, you don't have to hire someone or two. Or spend a Million Years Learning Adobe, or figuring it out. You can, you know, just kind of put these cool things together and all of a sudden you have a brochure or a business card or, you know, a website. And I think, I think it's empowering. I think it's very, very cool. And there's all there's always going to be a need for product designers and marketing designers. Because there are so many things that can't be done with those sites, especially more complicated things. There's always going to be a need for that, but for small businesses, I think it's great.

Dianne: Yeah, just to kind of jump on top of that. As I also think by having designers build you templates, or building things that these small companies can kind of take it and run with it like using designers to help build that. First stage, is also a really great way to empower those small companies. Yeah, totally agree. I love that. So let's jump into freelancing. So you basically went from running your own company, preschool kind of doing some websites here and they're getting your foot in the door. And then you made this big pivot to freelancing. What was that experience for you?

Laura: So the experience, the okay, so I what I will say and and this is also a funny story that I sometimes forget about, but sometimes. Sometimes, you know, it's kind of like, oh, how did you start, what did you do? So I actually met my first like it wasn't a full-time position. I met the owner of this business, just out of Starbucks when I was traveling. So I had like, my backpacking backpack. I was kind of working on my computer. At that point, I was doing some UX writing, just kind of you can some Companies will let you just kind of write a few lines for a small amount of money. And you can just kind of turnout things, I was doing something like that, I was on my computer and this very, very friendly guy was just like, what are you working on? Why Eva backpack like tell me your story and I told him and he was like you know we could really use someone like you with those kind of web design skills and marketing design skills and they were looking for someone that could do multiple things. This was for not, not a tech company. This was an ingredients company or ingredients sourcing company. And so that's something that that's kind of actually how I got one of my biggest and first clients was just basically being out and you know, especially now that covid is over people can go out again to cafes and you know, it's kind of like, you know, and I feel like I've heard this so many times and but it really is true. Like just be open and be friendly and be meeting people because I could have just kind of shrugged him off and been like, you know, I'm busy. Like have a nice day but, you know, just being open to hearing what other people's businesses are, what they're working on. What side hustles they have you can really open yourself up to a lot of opportunities. So that was that was kind of like the transition and and what it was like was honestly really awesome. I loved like the opportunity to travel and to, you know, be kind of working on my own and on my own time and I actually didn't have too much of a struggle. All trying to find new clients. Main clients is what I would recommend versus finding many kind of small projects. It's just a lot more work.

Dianne: Yeah. Oh that's a that's a great story. I think that's a lot about like just being open traveling and and the power of networking and networking doesn't have to be you go to this like stuffy event. It could be like anywhere and everywhere and you never know when you're gonna get that next opportunity. I love that. That's, that's fascinating. And I also think it's important, you said about getting like those a few customers that are going to sustain you and I think there's a couple of things. I think it's like yeah, don't take on tiny tiny projects unless maybe you're just starting out and you get that experience. But also, you don't have to necessarily take on that full-time gig as like somewhat Junior designers, like, a lot of these startups, a lot of these opportunities are coming from people that need design help that don't need that full-time. Can't offer benefits, but have really interesting products that you can work on and you can kind of dive in and help them, and make your own schedule and be more flexible and travel.

Laura: Yeah, it's so true. There are. There are so many smaller companies that are looking for, like you said, design help and it's not that crazy to be able to piece together, you know, one or two and make kind of a full-time salary off of a couple of part-time rolls.

Dianne: I'm curious to talk about the ux writing that you did because I think that's interesting in terms of like, how did you decide going from ux writing to like design?

Laura: So I had always wanted to do design ux writing It's really just something that I did because it was flexible and easy to kind of grab a few. You know, I basically was able to kind of log into this system. Put my name on a couple of projects, pull them out, finish them, whatever I wanted to, as long as it was, by the end of the month and then send them back. So it really was just kind of like what we were saying just collecting, you know, some clients to fill out your time. That was one of those for me and It wasn't a direction that I saw myself going in. I really quite more enjoyed the design side, but I can definitely see this happening to someone else where they would be like, hey, the writing is where it's at. For me like I want to find more roles that you know, aligned with that.

Dianne: Yeah. Okay. Yeah, that's interesting because I think you exerting is definitely a skill set and I definitely think that there is more of a need than ever for ux writers. So yeah, I was just curious where that transition happened. Okay, so where we left off is you had some freelance clients. You were traveling, living your best life and covid.

Laura: Hit. Yes, covid, hit. I actually, this is a big thing. I forgot to mention in my first little explanation is, I did decide at this point to go back to school and get a masters degree. I am very important thing.

Dianne: That is so huge. I thought you went back to school too.

Laura: Me just getting all the jobs doing all the things. No, I did go back to school because there was a point in kind of like, my freelancing. I was really enjoying it but I really did feel like for me, I needed a degree to be able to get to that next level and pursue things that were a little bit more I don't know how I just, I felt like for me it was needed because my first degree was in education, which is just so far from design. I think that there's multiple degrees where you can have your bachelor's that's not in design and you know, carry on but education is just so different. And so I did decide that I wanted to go back to school. I found a program that was fully online really flexible easy to do while I was traveling and I was able to complete it within a year. The other thing about that was that I was also able to then kind of plug that into my my time schedule. You know, I was I found, you know, a couple like we're seeing a couple clients, a couple of clients here and then I was able to, you know, basically be full-time, you know, in school. So that was amazing. That was a really great way to kind of like a prolonged transition. I would say, no, kind of freelancing and getting a degree at the same time. It's kind of like boot camp where you, you know, go into a boot camp for six weeks and you come out with a job. This this was you know a few years of kind of this freelance and contract and studying and then and then yeah I graduated during covid so I didn't get to have a what do you call it? The block the graduation walk but my school was in Iowa anyways and like I maybe one day I'll visit Iowa but I guess I didn't I my opportunity will be there for me another time if I decide to so. But I did joke about it. Telling all my friends that I was going to make everyone pliant Iowa to go to my graduation ceremony, but it didn't get to happen, but it's okay. I've like a little Zoom graduation party. It's like very covid.

Dianne: I want to know more about what you learned in your course. Like, did you learn and do you think that you're getting a masters and was it in you product.

Laura: The Master's Degree, was it was a master's the program. I guess was industrial engineering but I think that's just because that's where they plugged it in but it was in human-computer interaction which is a common and more like I would say more traditional title and roll or degree for this type of job. That's kind of it's something that's been around since like the 80s you know like it's been around for a while nowadays, you can actually get a degree in ux design or product design and stuff like that. But I chose this one mostly because mostly because of the flexibility and I thought it looked great but I also really like studying and I really do like school and I like the challenge so I did like that. It was a little bit more of a broader kind of context of design as a whole.

Dianne: I think that's interesting. And yeah I think product they do have degrees in product design but learning something more Broad so do you feel like white like you going to school and getting that Masters? Really not. Only on paper looks great but it also helped you in your career. You learned a lot of skills and that those courses that you could apply to your careers after.

Laura: Yeah, I definitely did. I definitely did. I was able to take a couple of classes. Like I said, some were Broad and some were like, you know, designed ethics, which we felt was just fascinating and some were very pointed like I had a couple of classes. This is where we literally built, you know, a product from start to finish. And the cool thing about it was I was working like, in teams with other people who are actually already ux designers. So I got to learn a lot from them and by and you know already designer somewhere graphic designers, but so I kind of gained this like community of designers that were all in the field. That was very very very cool. And then it also besides looking can good on paper. Just gave me a lot of confidence to you know, speak about what I've learned and to refer to school projects where I didn't feel like it was a school like a silly school project like this is something that involved a lot of research and had you know, backing by professors. And so I could actually I felt really confident using some of those school projects in, you know, portfolios or interviews and just talking it up like I really I think it helped me with confidence a lot.

Dianne: Yeah, I think that's great that you got to like build products with like graphic designers and product designers and had like their real-world experience. And I think a lot of Junior designers that go through boot camp so like, oh, I did this thing in school. Like they, they like feel bad about it. And I think you were like, yeah. Like I feel like I could use those projects because I learned so much and could really take that to a different level. So I think that's really interesting. What You say I know that you took your course a little while ago and actually boot camps were still super popular. So what would you say to potential designer? That was thinking of doing a boot camper or going back to school and taking a more education focused, design class? What would you say to that?

Laura: I think it's important to have maybe just look at like reviews of things. I think for me boot camp was just never something I wanted to do and it's that this sounds weird but boot camps are actually like a little bit less flexible because you have to kind of be plugged in for, you know, however many weeks and it's really full time and that actually didn't work. Like it actually was more flexible for me to get a full master's degree because I could do it you know kind of in the evenings and fit it into my schedule. So there was that piece for me and I really think that I did just look into what so it was what works for me and then I dread, you know, a lot of people are really happy with their boot camp boot camps. A lot of people are unhappy with their boot camps, but I genuinely found that most people, I talked to were happy that they had a master's degree and I just really wanted to challenge myself. And for me a boot camp, seems extremely challenging but a master's degree, I think really challenges you like intellectually and the connections like I said are really amazing and that's that's what I'd say they're I wouldn't wreck, I wouldn't 100% recommend one or the other, but just looking at what what fits and and what works, and I'm sure this is something people say all the time, but like, you know, check what jobs like you're going for, and see what they require. Because if you want like, some kind of job and you see on there all, the more they call the job descriptions, they're saying master's degree required. Well, that's a hint of, you know that you might need them. Just agree. And that's not to say you can't apply without one. There's a lot of times when you can apply and get really far in the interview process without whatever is written down on the job description. But it's worthwhile to look and see what's required for the role that you're pursuing.

Dianne: Yeah, that I think that's great advice. One thing that you said about your master's degree in one of the classes you took was designed ethics. You like that really fascinating? What I liked about that is like, I feel like from my personal experience. Interviewing Junior designers is, I think there's this piece of design ethics or even just understanding design values, that is sometimes missing. And so I think that having a master's in being able to focus more on the education or ethics are like the background will give you that knowledge that you need to feel confident going in and knowing some of those designs skills or some of those just where design came from, how it got to today.

Laura: I thought that was. Yeah, and we also learned a lot about like the psychology of design that was like really big in the degree and those ones like I'm actually still use those kind of terms like in my work today. So you know, I'll look at something and be like and I'm able to also kind of say to my peers that might my colleagues. That might not be designer. Something like, hey, this design might not work because I can see this is going to cause, you know, cognitive overload and you know, and then I can just kind of quick explain what that means or another one. I recently brought up was like Banner blindness. That's like a, you know, a thing. And these are like things that we learned about in Psychology. So I do actually use those like very you know, school school type terms in my work today.

Dianne: I love that. I want to start using some of those, I should take a design psychology. Oh, it's fascinating. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I love that. That maybe some. Okay. I'm gonna look into it. Yeah, thanks for that. Yeah.

Laura: And ethics also like, totally got me really jazzed up. Like it was fascinating, we are learning about all about, you know, like a I like this whole thing of, you know, if a was it like if a self-driving car like you can program it to crash into, Do you know either an elderly person or you know, a child and it's like what do we do with that? You know, and it's just fascinating like you know like it just and it's it just it's super Jazz's me up because I'm like, let's talk about it. No one's talking about this like, it's really important. So yeah, and it's cool and master's degree in the same way that in any degree you get to choose your classes as well. You know, there's some required but you really get to pick like the ones that really speak to you. And that's I did have a couple of required coding classes so they did require my degree required, some like implementation courses for coding and I think they might have required a psychology one and then the rest we got to choose

Dianne: Uh-huh. Okay. So I keep moving forward. I could talk about this all day but I want to get to kind of after after you got your Masters. I don't know how far along was most probably somewhat short between that and then you coming to work at Design Project, right?

Laura: Yeah. Or yes or if you that I was doing I might have been still working on the while I was working with you guys.

Dianne: Okay. Okay. Awesome. I don't know. I don't recall. But yeah, I so fellow Sinners Like I said is Laura was you are like one of our first designers and you came in super like let's do this. You helped us start building our first processes and it's been a little while. Since you left Miller, we've taken some of those early processes and we've like expanded on them. And you were the start of like, one of our biggest selling points to our customers is we have internal processes and so you were there at the Forefront of building that. And you were also there in like the complete unknown of like, how do we work with customers? How do we make this subscription model work? Yeah, I don't know if you have any, any thoughts on some of those?

Laura: It is really fun to think. Back on that time, that is actually something that I really enjoy II. Really don't mind like being there for ya figuring out the right processes especially also just looking at like design process as well. Like, how are we going to? How are we going to actually get from start to finish? How are we going to make this a success aside from the actual, you know, screen designing? I really don't mind. I think that there is there's nothing wrong with being a designer and being like, you know, I want to, you know, come in and work on my wire frames and my pixel designs and everything. There's nothing wrong with that but I really like all of it. I definitely, you know, I'm happy to be collaborating with Team helping, you know, managers figure out what they're doing and that's actually been. So this is something that I've had with my managers at Salesforce to, because I've been plugged into a couple of teams that I, that are not designed teams. And so my managers, they've actually both both managers. I've had, they've never worked with a ux UI designer before. And so they're kind of like, Hey, how help me manage you and I'm like, okay, you know, this is a challenge. I got it, you know, and I kind of like reached out to other design teams and other ux designers in the company, to figure out how they're doing and we kind of, you know, explored that. But yeah, I have no process, no problem being part of this process of making sure that design is going to work. For the designers art, everything is going to work for the people involved.

Dianne: Yeah. You know, I was talking with another designer, the other day on the podcast and it was kind of what's that difference between being a junior, mid senior manager and something he said that really struck me was like, you, you go into like I think the difference between like mid to senior is you're actually going in and you're forming processes and you're forming connections with people outside of the design space and you're creating that collaboration. And I think that's very true. I think that Distinguished is like a mid to a more senior designer that has the knowledge feels comfortable. Going into these unknown conversations and helping to structure. What do you think?

Laura: Yeah, that's actually, is that that sounds right to me? I mean I'm you know, like my title is lead and I certainly do work, like I said with no other designers. It's just me and I'm mostly working with like product managers and I mean, I'm actually still in, you know, the education side of Salesforce. So I'm working with No curriculum leads and program managers and all kind of yeah really working together to figure out how the product can work on it. Like just once again just aside from just what's on a wire frame or user flow is really having those conversations of how can we create this new, this new thing?

Dianne: Yeah. Oh, that's awesome. Yeah, I let's, let's jump into kind of what you're doing now because I am curious and also I think that's a great segue. So you are kind of like lead designer and you're working with project managers in this education. Piece of Salesforce correct?

Laura: Yeah. So what so kind of in the same way that you know you there's always a way to learn a software so in this case we're teaching people how to learn Salesforce. And to become a sales force you know developer administrator and previously. I was just focused on Tableau so learning Tableau as a software but now we're now we're all together. The learning team is all all one, very exciting time. Very new, very exciting. So we're helping people get into the workforce by getting credentials and getting trainings and learning a software that can hopefully, you know, expand their career prospects as well.

Dianne: Yeah, that's awesome. And it's interesting that you've kind of come full circle. You're in education.

Laura: So that and that is been really cool to kind of continue to work out of like with other education people and we're all passionate about the same thing and I mean that's been amazing and that I really do believe that that's actually what helped me get this role because it was on an education team. And I was going to be working with people who were education people and and this is just, you know, we talked about it earlier. But this is also just something I recommend to any other designers that are coming from a different industry as you can apply that to anything. If you were a nurse like look for, you know, like medical technology companies or hospitals or something, you know, they love using that experience and you can connect with your hiring managers, and your managers, and the people who are in the interviews over some kind of, you know, share Urdhva Leaf. So I really do think that that's I mean I I'm not it's not, it's not unexpected, and it's also not surprised. And like I, this is where I was meant to be used in, you know, education and technology.

Dianne: I feel like everything just like became this perfect collaboration. Your whole career has led you to this place. That's so awesome. So what what do you love the most about working at Salesforce as this, UI/UX lead designer?

Laura: I so sale, I would just say, Salesforce has a great company to work for they've got, you know, a lot of really like they're pretty good about being, you know, work balance and flexibility. You know, I feel like everyone does remote so that's you know also what they do. So I do love working for Salesforce but I really really like I said, I really do like working in this education piece and there's a lot of resources in Salesforce for designers something that I did not know coming into the company but I figured it out is there's actually like a whole program setup for ux designers And they have company like set up like they call them like, you know, grow and learn or something like that, where you can hop in on these calls weekly to expand your skill set, they support getting new like designer certifications, there's like a whole, you know, resource Hub. There's slack channels, it's really great working for and I would I would guess that it's the same for a lot of big tech companies. It's great working for a company that really values ux design. And also ux like both, not separating them either, you know, putting them together. And that's been very, very cool. You know, I've heard some people say, you know, oh, how do you explain the need for ux design? How do you show people your, you know, that it's worth investing in I guess? And that's just something I've never had to do it. Salesforce like they, they want me in all the conversations they really value what I'm doing and that's really cool.

Dianne: That's amazing. That's amazing. That's like that's like the ideal scenario. You're in a company that values and they're giving you so many resources and so many opportunities to continue to grow within the company and just grow your skill set. That's like, that's amazing. And I love that you found that in that Salesforce, is that company? Because I think that's super awesome. I think one of the, the last kind of questions I have for you is you come from this freelance background. You also, from you did some work with Design Project and you worked in the startup space. What is that difference between working with startups versus working and more of this big corporate sales? Force type of company?

Laura: Yeah. So one of the things that I definitely noticed is that things are slower slower and a lot more steps to get where you need to go. It's kind of like in a startup or, you know, a design agency, you're really in control of the whole project and process and if you're not in control, if there's another stakeholder, it's maybe like one, you know, CEO or one, you know, product owner, or one design manager, and you just know who to go to, like, you always know. That's my person for this. And we can all kind of get in the meeting together, we can talk it out. I can reach that person really quick, but there's times especially in the beginning of the Roll. Where I'll be like, okay, I want to make this change. I want to do something and then it's like, who do I ask, who do I talk to? How do I get there? And then you kind of take small steps, you're like, okay, well, let me reach out to this person that I was introduced to you last week. Okay, that's not the right person. They refer me to another person and it's like, you and I is what I said when I first started working, there was, I felt like, I was, like, in a, like a treasure hunt like, collecting little jewels of information and I would be like, okay, like, you know, I got one like, oh yeah, I like it. That's what I was looking for. I got it now. I have to, like, sort through the jungle to, like, get my next little Jewel and like, that's really how I felt. Find the access, you know, permissions and there was like a thousand different, you know, I don't know, like software things you had to sign up for, you know, like five different, you know, Google Docs, and all these different things that I have to get access to all these things. And it's just like and then you kind of request access or reach out and then, you know, you have to wait. So then you're like, all right? Let me go work on something else and then that's something else has like, okay, well that needs approval. So then you're like, okay, so it's kind of that's a big change and I necessarily wasn't a bad thing for me. It just it definitely. You just have to kind of get used to that. There's going to always be something else. You have to figure out and it's not so quick to get that answer.

Dianne: That's interesting. Yeah I like how you phrased it and I think I also think from my experience way back in the day when I worked for purposes it's very much things. Do move slower and it's like you have more time to focus. So, like you get to really spend the time to make sure that what you're building is validated and that you're going through every step and that you can check it off. And you can feel really, confident versus my experience is startups like, hey, let's just throw something out tthere and see if it works and we'll fix it. Once we get feedback from users that are using it.

Laura: That's actually so true working in. Yeah, like contractor freelance or on small projects or products. Even at a time, you know, sometimes like with Design Project we were working with one product for, you know, several months at a time versus working on something for years. You know, you really do get a lot more time instead of you know, this very like fast-paced like alright we're going to get, you know, a few things, you know, done by this Friday and like you said let's just see if it works and I really do hope I really do. Hope that every design I've ever given a start-up. They actually do like, validate it and test it afterwards, but sometimes I'm not there to do that versus in, you know, this full time role. I can be like, hey everyone, like we're launching on the state and four weeks later. I'm checking and and no I can take and also maybe this is also a lead thing to like a lead role to thing where I'm saying like I'm like we're not stopping at lunch like we're going to look Beyond and validate and I want this to be on the road map that there's like a time for changes if need be. So yeah, that is a difference between the two.

Dianne: Yeah, I know. That was great. That was great. Okay, so I think we've come to the end. This was great. I have one question. Final question is like, where do you see yourself going in the next three to five years? What's what's your, your ideal future and design look?

Laura: Yeah, it's funny. So I like recently had this like, there's like, who should I go work at a start. And like I wonder if I'm just going to be like every five years being back and forth or something, but I really we do so far like all is well and you know, a big company land. I do like it. I am looking forward to trying to be I think I'm, you know, at this stage some people will say, do you want to become a people manager, or do you want to continue being an icy? And I've I've thought about it and I think I want to keep the icy route. You just get you get to get really like focused in your craft and get really good at what you're doing. And the other thing about being in a larger company, is there still quite a bit of opportunities for growth without being a people manager? So, you know, those titles are things like principal principal designer. I think that's what Salesforce uses. And then I think you can actually become like VP without Nest. Actually, I don't know if you could be VP without managing people but it's you know either way you can still continue growing. As an individual contributor and so far, I like it. I like not having to be, you know, answering other people all the time. I really get to just focus on my work. So I'm going to, I'm going to stick it out and hopefully hopefully become a principal one day.

Dianne: Yeah, I love that. You know, everyone thinks like, oh yeah, the next step is like in Yorkers. Like, you have to manage people, and that's not true. And I think there is that subset of like, oh, designers go to manage and designers, go to really like, focus on their craft and I love that you brought that up as that last point is because I think that's so true. I think there's so much value and continuing to learn continue to focus and like really becoming an expert in what you do. And I like, I'm excited for you. I'm excited for that principal role and potentially working at a start-up began and I'm excited to follow along your journey and I'm so happy that you are so excited about where you are right now and you're really enjoying your career. So thank you so much. Laura is so great to catch up and to hear your story again and I hope it's inspiring to listeners out there who are trying to figure out what they want to do. Career switchers are people that are just designers, they're just working their way up and trying to decide between startups and larger companies and all of the things freelance. So you've done everything, you've literally gone through.

Laura: I know I feel like I have, like, taken a piece of each of each of those and tried them all out, but it was great being on the, on the podcast with you today. And I love hearing what Design Project is doing. Always and will keep following you guys, too.

Dianne Eberhardt

Dianne Eberhardt

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