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Tell us a little about your background, what led you to the career path you are on today?
Nothing terribly exciting here. Started going to university to study traditional art – realized that although I might like being creative, I needed a more grounded and analytical day-to-day to keep me more actively engaged. I then transferred to SFU’s business school, where I nearly bored myself to death in managerial planning and stats classes. Transferred to the Interactive Arts and Technology program, and eventually did a joint major with business. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I essentially got a degree that set me up perfectly to get the job I have today.
What are some of the aspects that you love most about your career?
User experience is all about solving problems in data driven and creative ways. In my current position, it’s about solving extremely complex problems with a lot of moving parts. It’s very challenging, and definitely lets me flex a wide variety of skillsets that ultimately feels extremely rewarding. I get to help people work more efficiently, and work with tons of brilliant colleagues from a variety of professions and backgrounds.
What predictions do you have for User Experience in the next 3 years?
Hard question. We’re seeing a lot of emerging technologies occurring right now. The concept of haptic feedback isn’t a new one, but as the desire to continue to find new ways to increase the UX in just about everything, we’re seeing it become more prevalent. Apple’s new force touch is an example of this. I’m curious to see if it catches on, and where it goes, if it goes anywhere. I guess that’s not a prediction, as much as a curiosity.
What is your favourite part about being an educator at BrainStation?
There’s something about going back to the basics, where you’re free of constraints, crazy deadlines, difficult clients, etc. that really reminds you where you started and what the core of UX is really about. Plus seeing new people with a variety of backgrounds and skillsets really ‘get into’ UX is definitely rewarding, and I’m proud to be a part of that experience.
What’s the main thing you want each of your students to walk away with after 10 weeks?
Three things. That user experience is both a scientific and a creative profession, in which people who are passionate about solving problems can find a provocative career. Additionally, I’d like to give them a sense of what to expect on the job. There’s always a disconnect between educational and professional settings, and I’d like our students to be better prepared for the challenges they’ll undoubtably face while being a UX designer in an often development focused environment. Lastly, I want them to come out of it with a thought provoking and kick ass project that can illustrate the full potential of following UX methodologies.
Sarah Menard is the Lead User Experience Designer at SAP and the Educator for BrainStation’s User Experience Design course in Vancouver.