Published on February 6, 2017 by Rebekkah Laeuchli
Natascha is a Basel native who has been at Magnolia for six years, and recently made a career switch from recruiting manager to UX assistant.
Originally interested in art school, Natascha attended commercial college and then studied psychology but never lost her love of drawing. She also had a strong interest in IT, so when she eventually left her psychology studies she began work at a tech company in her hometown: Magnolia. We had a chat about her unconventional career path and what led her to pursue User Experience.
You worked in recruiting and HR at Magnolia for 6 years and now you're in the product management team. Why did you switch to UX?
That's a complicated question. I guess the main reason was that I started to get interested in UX about a year and a half ago. Talking to Andreas [head of UX at Magnolia] and seeing what he's doing was very inspirational. Also, I was working in HR which was about easing the lives of others, and that’s a parallel to what you do in UX, just seen from a different perspective. So I started reading about UX. Even though I loved recruiting, I didn't feel like HR was a perfect fit for me and I felt like I had reached a plateau. In the end, a switch to UX felt natural. I have a background in psychology, I like IT, and I also love visually appealing solutions in general.
I’m very interested in HCI, human computer interaction, especially in how people interact with evolving technology. Currently I’m working on getting my bachelor's degree in computer science with a focus on software engineering, user interaction and experience design.
What was or is the biggest challenge in making this career change? Are you happy with your decision?
I am extremely happy with my decision, especially since I feel that the input I get from my studies I can use in my job and vice versa. Additionally I feel that my background in psychology helps me in understanding the mysteries of the human mind - I deeply care for people for whom we design our experiences.
I think the biggest challenge in a career change is having the courage to pursue what you feel is right. When you overcome the fear of failure is actually when you start to fly. But all of that is only possible if you have a supportive environment: Rasmus [head of product management], Andreas, and Anja [UX designer] are the perfect mentors.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
We start the day with a standup meeting for UX. That's great because we can keep track of what everyone is doing. We also have various meetings to understand how things are connected, like why product management have picked which priorities for the roadmap. I'm doing my first research tasks now, working mainly in figuring out how we can improve the editor experience in Magnolia and make it more marketer-friendly. Everything is very exciting for me right now.
Did you ever ask anyone awkward HR interview questions? Like, if you were a fruit yogurt would you rather be fruit-on-bottom-yogurt-on-top or pre-mixed?
I hope not; I don't think so. I guess I was trying to make people feel comfortable and to let them talk about what was important to them, and whether that was in line with our values. The only unusual question I possibly asked was if they played a musical instrument, just to open up the conversation and to talk about something non-work-related.
Which would you rather be?
I really hate yogurt. And neither option’s good: who likes to be at the bottom and who likes to be merged together?
Did your HR experience affect how you approach UX?
Yes. I think it's about empathy, about trying to understand something from another point of view. It's very important to create solutions that are not just cool but that will actually be used and solve a problem or serve a need. I feel like all the different paths I took were not really in opposing directions but more like a circle, leading me to the point where I am now.
Rebekkah Laeuchli is the digital marketing coordinator at Magnolia International. She is in charge of Magnolia's social and email channels, and also enjoys blogging about the company itself and the people who work there. Outside of the office she spends her time training kung fu, running, reading, playing piano, and occasionally roasting quail.
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