Carrie, Senior Manager, User Experience: making people’s lives easier
What is your ‘why’ and how does Qualtrics connect with your ‘why’?
Why product design/User Experience (UX)? I do what I do because I love creating something from nothing — something that has a purpose and makes people's lives (whether their work life or as consumers) smoother or better somehow. Qualtrics connects me to my 'why': By trusting me to lead a very talented team of designers whose charge is to help create software that betters businesses around the globe by allowing the business to understand what their customers and employees both want and need in order to have a positive experience. Our main goal is to help businesses become smarter and more empathetic by analyzing real, honest, everyday, every-minute feedback from wherever it is provided so that informed modern business decisions can be made.
What attracted you to Qualtrics in the first place?
I came to Qualtrics uniquely; I was a member of the Clarabridge team who merged with Qualtrics in 2021. As you can imagine, the first year post-acquisition was filled with much growth and learning. This happened through mind sharing and innovating on how our products can join together to create the most powerful experience management tool on the planet (I say this humbly), getting to know countless new colleagues, and doing my best to establish trust with them so that we can collaborate together in healthy, productive ways.
What was the turning point where you knew you had to have the job at Qualtrics?
Pre-acquisition at Clarabridge, to be quite honest, we had all been working very hard (myself for 7 years) to create the best possible customer experience analytics tool that we could that rivaled the big dogs (such as IBM's Watson) and we did! In the first few weeks as a Qualtrics employee, it became quite clear that all of that hard work was going to be leveraged to propel us even further. Essentially, I am still up for the challenge as this technology is not finished evolving and that is exciting.
What does your day look like?
Wake up, drink delicious coffee, feel like I am behind at everything in life .... then immediately convince myself that I am not and that I will make it. Get into my first Zoom call and start trying to think, design, and innovate with the talented people around me to push the product to meet our next-level goals. Rinse and repeat.
What is your favorite part of your role?
Somehow trying to lead a team of extremely talented designers; it's the biggest honor of my career. They are each world-class. Every critique we have, they are inspiring not just in the designs they are creating but also in the way that they collaborate and think and care about our users and our team as a unit.
Any tips for someone who is considering a role in your field?
As a woman in the tech industry, I would like to focus this question on women (and those who are gender minorities) in our space as I have countless times been the only woman in a room full of suits. To rise up in your career, it takes determination and hard work. Your work has to speak for itself — always. Because of that solid work, over and over, one builds trust and respect. Both of these things make up the foundation of any successful team. What I am trying to state (not so eloquently) is do not shy away from hard things — take them on and bring solid trusted people to work with you. Always *stay* high. No, not in the Bob Marley kind of way, but pushing Michelle Obama's infamous quote, "When they go low, we go high." I have thought about that quote many times for myself personally, for my growing children, for my work, and for members of my team. If we position ourselves at the start of every meeting, at every interaction with poise, respect, and knowledge (backed with that solid work mentioned above) even in the toughest, most high-pressured moments, our likelihood of success as well as leaving a memorable impression will be raised.
What has surprised you most about working at Qualtrics?
How truly much the UI/UX/UXR's arm under the leadership of Paco Vinoly cares about their people. I think because I was entering Qualtrics from a complete outsider perspective I was nervous about the unknown culture, but that slid away quickly as I started joining leadership meetings with Paco and his team. The management genuinely cares and wants to see every member of our organization succeed in a way that is healthy and inclusive.
What made you want to get into this field?
I started out at Virginia Tech as pre-med and quickly realized I was maybe doing it more for my family legacy (my grandfather was a doctor, and my mother was a pediatric nurse) than for myself. I took an art class, which I also loved, and there my professor encouraged me and introduced me specifically to graphic design — the emerging learnings of website design/development which I at the time barely knew existed. I was hooked, I saw an opportunity, as I stated previously, to create something out of thin air that was hopefully intuitive and enjoyable to use.
What are your aspirations in career/life?
Way, way down the line, when I am an old bird, I would love to own a small art gallery and if I am super lucky a small little getaway somewhere on the coast of Portugal.
What is your top #LifeHack?
What is a myth about your job that you’d like to bust?
Rejection is a huge part of design. There's no other way to put it, but people considering it should know it takes a very open mind to innovate and a lot of personal strength to overcome the simple truth that design is subjective, that often a designer presents multiple options and one's own personal favorite will not always be chosen, and that sometimes, due to business unknowns or changing decisions, work may never even see the light of day. And all of this has to be accepted — it is okay and part of the process, Gretzky still sums it up well: "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."
|Carrie is an alumna of Virginia Tech and started her career at NCI Information Systems at NASA Langley. She is a proud single mom of 13 year old twins.