Could you tell us about yourself and your job role? And one hobby/fun fact?
I am the Founder and Director of Humanly, an award-winning human-centred design studio dedicated to social impact.
I’m a designer who is passionate about the power of human-centred design to develop solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems, and to transform the organisations that are at the front line of addressing these challenges. Over the years I have worked on a wide range of issues including dementia, disability, cancer, mental health, empowering women and girls, refugees, education and climate change.
My job has taken me to 11 countries in 4 continents and counting!
In my spare time I co-run Service Lab London, a service design event held regularly in London, and I volunteer at Switchboard, the LGBT+ helpline.
What is a typical day like for you?
One of my favourite things about my job is that there is no typical day!
Depending on what projects we have on, and what stage they’re at, I could be doing any number of things.
If we’re carrying out user research, I might be out and about interviewing people or running creative research activities. If we’re in an ideation phase, I’ll most likely be in a brainstorming session with my team or running creative workshops in which we’re supporting different stakeholders to generate ideas to tackle the problem we’re trying to solve. Or I might be developing and testing prototypes with users and other stakeholders to learn about how these ideas might work in practice.
Of course, my job involves a fair amount of desk work as well — I might be writing a proposal for an exciting potential new project, writing up the results of research or prototyping to share with our clients, or just catching up on the admin side of running my business.
Could you tell us how you got into your role?
When I was a teenager I wanted to study psychology, but I had a change of heart. At the last minute I decided to study product design instead. After completing my Bachelor’s degree, I went to do a Master’s degree in Product Service System design in Milan. I was determined to use my skills for social good and was lucky enough to get my first job working for UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, in the technology department.
Not long afterwards I became a freelancer, and I worked for myself for 5 years doing lots of different design projects on a consultancy basis for charities, NGOs and local authorities. When the work became too much for me to do on my own, I decided to grow my own studio, which is when Humanly was born.
What motivates you to do a good job?
I am motivated to try and make a difference and achieve a positive social impact through everything that we do. This includes the products and services that we design, which always have user needs at the heart and aim to improve the quality of life of those using them.
We also try to achieve social impact through sharing our methodology with the people and organisations we work with, and wider audiences through speaking at events and producing open source toolkits and case studies.
Finally, I’m motivated to practice what we preach internally at Humanly, by creating a working environment and culture centred around the wellbeing and personal development of our team members.
How do you learn at work?
At the risk of sounding cheesy, I learn an incredible amount from the people we involve in our research, co-creation and prototyping. Having worked in consultancy for many years, I have the pleasure of working on new topics all the time. I love immersing myself in a new issue that I know very little about, and absorbing as much as I can through every possible medium; from reading articles, watching documentaries, interviewing experts, and carrying out in-depth research with people affected by the issue as well as those trying to address the issue.
Moreover, the nature of working on designing new products and services for today and for the future means keeping up to date with the myriad ways in which the world is changing. This includes changes in technology, social norms and attitudes, policy, and the way products and services are being delivered, among many other factors.
Finally, I am constantly learning from my team and our collaborators as we constantly grow our collective skillset and broaden the range of services we offer to our clients.
What are your aims for the next year? For example, if you work in accessibility do you have any plans to help make workplaces more inclusive? If you work in Learning and Development how are you going to promote workplace learning?
I aim for Humanly to keep working on pressing social issues and developing innovative solutions that transform the experiences of those affected, as well as enabling the organisations we work with to put user needs at the heart of what they do and how they develop and deliver their products and services.
I would also love to grow our team so that we can offer our services to more organisations that aim to achieve a positive social impact.
YOU CAN LEARN MORE ABOUT HUMANLY ON THE FOLLOWING PLATFORMS:
The Humanly website: www.designhumanly.com
The Humanly twitter page: @designhumanly
TAKE PART IN #TAKEFIVEWITH
Would you like to be interviewed or know someone in the tech, design, accessibility or inclusion sector who would like to tell their story in the #TakeFiveWith series? Contact Zeinab at firstname.lastname@example.org