From Producer to User Experience Consultant

A journey of discovery and learning

An article by Gaia Riva 05-06-2018

Hi, my name is Gaia and I am a User Experience Consultant. They say that the first step is acceptance and sometimes I need to pinch myself as I still struggle to believe that I have made it into UX.

The reason why that’s not so obvious to me is because, until not so long ago, I was a Senior Producer here at Edo. I have been here for quite some time (6 years and counting) and through the years I have learned so much, was given more responsibility over time and of course promotions that went with it, building a nice career that I was proud of.

And still part of me couldn’t shake the question “How did I end up here?”.

I studied Economy and Sociology when I was a teenager and when it came to my University choice I preferred the latter over the former (to my parents despair). The truth is that I loved my degree! I was fascinated about how society shapes all of us in so many ways that we are so often unaware of and whether it was gender, art or cognitive sociology it didn’t matter to me - I took it all in.

When I finished my degree I was faced with the hard reality of the job market. When I went to a recruitment agency with my shiny CV their comment was “At least you can speak some languages, we can do something with that”. And they did - I landed a soulless job in a customer service centre doing data entry and answering phones to angry hospital staff.

I wasn’t discouraged and I decided to reshape my degree into something with more market value by enrolling in a Marketing MSc. After all, marketing is the sociology of selling things to people (definition completely invented by yours truly). The problem was that I didn’t want to sell things to people (again to my parents despair).

Eventually, I landed a great job in Client Services at Edo and I still remember the first time that I I was introduced to UX by my colleague. The conversation was something like:

“I am in the UX team” - he said

Blank face - me

“The user experience team” - he explains

Still blank face - me

“You have never heard of UX? That’s interesting!” - which is British for ‘where-have-you-been-all-your-life’

Since then I’ve learned a lot about UX and the more I learned about it the more I could recognise a lot of what I had studied in my degree - Listen to your users in a humble way and without prejudice, don’t ask leading questions, leave silences to let the person think, gather quantitative evidence…

As a Producer I loved to work on UX projects. I would witness all their research and then see how it magically become something tangible: a persona, an experience map, a website. I was fascinated.

So eventually, my admiration became interest and I started to crave more involvement in all of the UX projects until I took the decisive step. I changed teams!

I’m now going to share my key learnings from my transition from Producer to UX consultant:

Soft skills take time, hard skills are “easier” to learn

When I first started in UX I wasn’t worried about presentations or talking to users but the idea of having to produce deliverables was much more frightening. That’s because I was used to talking to clients as a Producer but with Sketch, I didn’t know where to start. It turns out that it’s much ‘quicker’ to explain to someone how to use a software than teach things like “read the room”, “understand internal politics of the people that you will be talking to”. I had already learned many of the softer skills previously and it took much more time to get the hard skills right.

You’re already empathetic - that’s half of the job done

As a Producer my role was to represent the client within the company. You have to keep empathy at all times especially when it gets frustrating (and let’s be real here it does sometimes). That empathy is key when you are a UX consultant. You will need it when talking to users of course but also when listening to the client, their needs, what they know and what is new to them.

UX consultants are passionate because they CARE

Are you worried that you are not as passionate as the consultants that you have met? That’s fine, the passion will come with the job. I genuinely believe that all of our consultants are so passionate about their work because they spend hours talking to people, listening to their stories, their issues and what they need. Once you have listened to all of their stories we identify what will make their lives better, what will help them, what they need. So when it comes to reiterating our findings to our client of course we feel passionate, because in that moment we are representing all of their users!

If you’re interested in joining the UX team, then you’re in luck - we’re recruiting! Find out more about current vacancies here.

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