Interaction Designer, CIT Group
Birthplace: Born in Rochester, grew up in Strafford
Family: Husband, Ian (member of the 2009 Class of 40 Under Forty); son, Mannix (13); daughter, Davan (6); dog, Dingo; cat, Peaches
High school: Coe-Brown Northwood Academy (CBNA) and I still talk with some of my teachers!
College/post grad degrees: Graduated in 2004 from the University of Maine-Orono with a B.A. in New Media
What is the best career advice you ever received?
Don’t burn bridges. It’s a small world and you will inevitably be crossing paths – and if you are lucky, working with – former co-workers or bosses again.
Why did you choose your profession?
It wasn’t so much a choice, more like a gravitational pull to a great inevitable. Like most of my colleagues, I didn’t start my career in User Experience, but UX and Interaction design play to my strengths and skills developed through my past experiences. It’s an extremely collaborative profession where you dig into the mysteries of observed behavior and empathy to design solutions to real problems people might not even notice. It’s kind of a hidden profession, and I kind of like that, too. There’s a saying that a good design solution is invisible. So when I’m doing my job well, you probably won’t even notice. I like being a team player, not having to be in the front but having everyone on the team feel ownership.
What motivates you to give back to your community?
I like being a part of something bigger than myself. The things we do are like one small gear in a bigger machine and it takes a whole community to make it happen.
What advice would you give your 22-year-old self?
Failure is inevitable. In the next decade or so you are going to fail a lot. Times when other people think you are doing great, you will feel like you’ve failed. And that’s OK. You can’t let the failures stop you, because when you do succeed it will be a direct result of learning from those failures.
What would make New Hampshire more attractive to young professionals?
It’s hard to come here and find communities where you feel you belong. Stay Work Play NH conducted a survey a year ago which found 21 percent of young professionals in New Hampshire are friendless, 25 percent feel isolated from their family. “Few opportunities to meet new people” was listed as a top reason to leave. There are no one-size-fits-all ways to make friends either, so there isn’t really a buddy program we could launch to fix this. What might make a difference is for everyone to become an advocate for the young professionals in their network. Try to find out their passions and help connect them with the communities they would best fit. Invite them to game nights or bike rides. Help them build friendships. One of my favorite things about living in Manchester is that I can walk downtown and inevitably run into a handful of friends on any given day. And it’s all because of my own advocates, people who said, “You know you should check this out … ” or “Why don’t you come … ”
What would you like to be doing when you’re 40?
Forty is not that far away! When I’m 40 I hope to be able to do more art and interaction design from a passion perspective (opposed to just professional). I also want to properly celebrate the legacy of gaming that Ralph Baer, known as the father of video games, has given us. Those two things are sort of related.
Volunteer activities: Co-founder of New England GiveCamp; Sunday School coordinator and teacher for Grace Episcopal Church in Manchester; Girls at Work, member of the Board of Directors; Committee member of CIT Portsmouth’s Women’s Initiative Network (WIN) chapter; Co-Organizer of a yet-to-be-named video game-inspired event for Ralph Baer’s birthday (planned for March); creator of a crowd-sourced Manchester Christmas Light map in 2013 that is still going strong today, being shared and added to each year.
Last major achievement: All of my major accomplishments are the achievements of a team and I’m just one member. We are currently planning the 10th New England GiveCamp, an annual event at which technology professionals donate their expertise to provide software solutions and other support to local nonprofit organizations. When GiveCamp started I never imagined it going as long or running as well as it has. We’ve helped more than 100 organizations over the years, with several returning for multiple years. We even have organizations fly in from outside the country to participate. At CIT, I work as part of a team and contributed to designing the technology for which CIT won the Fintech Breakthrough Award for Best Small Business Lending Solution.