A product designers insight on International Women’s Day

This blog post was written by Yolanda, a Rex senior product designer. Join her as she discusses her journey as a woman in the Technology space on International Women's Day.

What first interested you about working in the technology space?

My journey into tech was not straightforward. I did enjoy working with computers in high school, but I couldn’t really see myself in that industry as I thought it would be “boring” (how wrong I was!) I tried a few other things (science and hairdressing) and came back to it, deciding to study IT at university.
I studied a double degree of software engineering and multimedia and found that the multimedia side of things was what interested me and so I ended up working in small agencies that built websites and I focused on growing my design skills but I was still more technical than artistic. This eventually led me to growing my skills in UX which was a lot more focused on what I was really interested in: how do users actually use the products we build and how can we take their feedback to improve those features. I feel like I’ve found my niche as it melds design, user research and data to address user pain points and business needs.

Yolanda van Kimmenade, Senior Product Designer at Rex

Why do you think it’s important for more diversity in the tech industry?

I think diversity is always important whether it be gender or cultural diversity, to provide many different perspectives and allow us to build products that can be used by as many different kinds of people as possible. It also makes the environment feel positive and inclusive, making us all feel supported and part of the team.

What advice would you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?

When I was younger, trying to pick a ‘career’ seemed so overwhelming and I didn’t even know who I was, let alone what I wanted to do for the next 20 years. But over the last 15 years of my career I have seen my job and my role evolve as I was able to grow my self-awareness and understand my strengths and interests. This has helped me specialise in an area I really enjoy, so I think I would like young women to know that their chosen career now, doesn’t lock you in forever, things change and evolve and that’s what makes tech (and life) exciting.

This year’s theme for IWD is #choosetochallenge. Why do you think it’s important for women to challenge traditional roles? 

Although Tech is definitely a male dominated field, personally I have always found my male co-workers to be open to my ideas, feedback and discussions. But in general I think making society and every industry inclusive will make it easier for everyone to do their best work and feel supported and valued. Also having daughters myself, I know it’s my responsibility to challenge any predefined roles or stereotypes that aren’t inclusive because I want them to grow up feeling equal to their male friends / students / co-workers etc.

How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?

I am passionate about mentoring and I think this is so valuable for everyone, to have someone support you and let you know that you deserve to be recognised for your efforts. I was lucky to work with some amazing smart, talented women in my previous job at Booking.com (and now also at Rex) and I see how much we gained from meeting regularly, supporting and encouraging each other. This helped me to be promoted from core to senior designer as I had supportive colleagues who were pushing me to share my achievements and be recognised. I am always ready to listen to my colleagues and help them with whatever they need or find someone who can, because I know we’re all stronger and more successful when we work together.

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