DV FACES: Paulien Mijer, Strategic Designer, DV Sydney
“Strategic Design is all about having the user at the heart of everything.”
Paulien Mijer is a born explorer. Born in Hungary to Dutch parents, Paulien moved to The Hague, Zurich, and then London for school and studies before spending some time working in Myanmar. She is now a Strategic Designer in BCGDV’s Sydney Center, able to draw on this wealth of experience in her work building ventures.
Paulien is passionate about putting people at the center of what she builds, and motivated by a desire to connect. After studying International Relations in London, Paulien’s first experience working in technology was with an internet company during a year abroad in Myanmar, a period she looks back upon fondly. “It was definitely one of the best years of my life. It was so much fun. It was really interesting to work with a different user base and a different culture.”
Her work involved scaling internet ventures in the local market, a challenge that required her to take on a very different perspective to that she was used to. “People in Myanmar interact with the internet very differently to those in, say, London,” Paulien explains. “Because of heavy restrictions on internet usage, many of our customer base had grown up without access to it.” Building successful businesses took close engagement with users, working to understand their needs and how they might go about using a product — a skill that is at the core of Paulien’s toolkit.
After returning to London, Paulien was on the lookout for another adventure, one informed by her experience in Myanmar. She was already familiar with BCGDV, and the fact that the company had a Center in Sydney fit well with her plan to keep moving: “I had been in London for a while, and my family had already moved to Australia, so I was keen to go,” says Paulien. She also liked the variety of the work offered by a venture builder: “I really loved that you essentially get to build multiple startups; you get to launch a real product and then you’re going to be in another industry and immediately launch another one, which is just so cool and keeps things exciting.”
Originally considered for a Venture Architect position to reflect her recently acquired degree from London Business School and her evident entrepreneurial spirit, the recruiting team decided that in fact Paulien would be an even better fit for the Strategic Design cohort, given her experience in working with users. “Having worked in the role now, it’s clear I’m much more of a Strategic Designer than a Venture Architect,” says Paulien.
For Paulien, Strategic Design offers the chance to focus on what she does best: understand what people need from products. “Strategic Design is all about having the customer at the heart of everything. It’s a lot of interviewing, testing, and ideation…I really enjoy working with users and seeing how they engage with what we’re building, and taking their insights and turning them into a product.”
The BCGDV Sydney Center is unique within the company for its approach to Strategic Design; the Experience Design and Strategic Design cohorts are merged, with both working together as a single cohort. Paulien appreciates this element of collaboration. “We all learn a lot from each other, and the close nature of our collaboration enables us to bring our work together towards a shared goal.”
Outside of work, Paulien loves to stay active. She’s a keen rock climber, and often swims in the ocean in the mornings before starting work. These hobbies have even informed a recent venture, which will launch soon.