Mafalda Sequeira, Senior Product Designer

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Early years and where you came from?

I was born in Setúbal and lived there until I turned 23 years old.

How were you introduced to the world of the Portuguese tech industry?

After I finished my bachelor's degree in Communication Design (Graphic Design) and started looking for a job, in 2010, I could only find badly paid jobs or non-remunerated internships. Web design was already on high-demand at the time, so I decided to apply some effort to learn front-end development. I was lucky to start doing an internship in a research and development team in Hospital Amadora-Sintra, where I met a lot of interesting people, and a couple of months later I started working in a small company as the sole designer, working alongside 9 full-stack developers. I learned a lot on my own. Learn by doing.

Walk me through your work and what you are doing now in the tech industry.

I am a customer advocate who also cares about the business’ success. I’m constantly thinking and working on fulfilling our customers’ needs because without happy customers no business can survive for a long time. We can’t also be naive and just care about our customers, we also need to consider the business’s goals and worry about revenue, because without money the business won’t be able to sustain itself. My job as a Product Designer is often balancing the 2 while defending our customers. I worry about delivering value for both, detecting opportunities and exploring space for innovation. To achieve it I need to work with a multidisciplinary team, involving Product Management, UX Research, Data Analysis, Engineering, Customer Support, Sales, etc.

I’m currently working at OLX Group, specifically for the Real Estate market (Imovirtual), where I started by focusing on the home-seekers’ needs, and then I shifted to working on the seller's journey. One doesn’t exist without the other, so my aim is to improve the experience of all types of customers. I’m also coordinating the Product Design internships project at OLX, where we’ve had 3 interns and 1 of them has been hired already.

In the past, I have worked mainly in startups (Securibox, Landing.jobs and Uniplaces), and started developing my teaching skills in 2014, through Designlab. In 2015 I co-founded the post-graduate course in Digital Experience Design, at the University of Lisbon, where I currently teach and co-lead the course. Combining all my teaching experiences (Designlab, Edit, Le Wagon, University of Lisbon), I’ve had over 150 students from more than 14 nationalities.

What part of what you do, you love the most?

Working with so many different skillsets allows me to continuously learn and develop my skills, find new ways of working, and simply hang out with amazing people from various cultures. I also love being in close contact with the customers, developing empathy, while having the challenge of thinking about sustaining a business, which can be very complex.

How do you think that your background and knowledge impact the way you approach your work in the Portuguese tech industry?

Has I’ve had numerous work experiences, I have a good contact network and I’m able to exchange experiences with people working at different companies. People tend to complain a lot because they’re unaware of others’ reality, but when you get to compare you get to value or critique your employer and your life in general in a much more conscious way. I’ve had many great opportunities that I’m grateful for, and my aim is to continuously learn more and more. I always try to see things through a positive lens and incentivize other people to do the same, working on their critical thinking: even “bad” experiences have something positive to offer, simply because that’s how you learn the most.

What advice do you have for young women that want to get into tech and don’t know where to start?

Don’t know what you’d like to do? Find a mentor, someone who has been working in the industry for a while. Reach out to people through LinkedIn, and look for ways to be successful in getting a response (there are a lot of articles online to help out).

Know what you want to do but just don’t know how to get started? Look for online courses (Lynda.com, for example) and start building your contact network.

Walk me through a day in your life as a Portuguese women in tech.

I always start by working out every morning, because sitting in front of a computer all day simply can’t be good for your health (I used to have neck, shoulders, wrist and back pain before I started working out regularly). I get breakfast when I get to work, having a nice view of Saldanha, check my email, calendar, Slack and finally start working on some projects. I might have a lot of meetings depending on the day, and twice a week I lecture at the Faculty of Fine Arts, at the post-graduate course in Digital Experience Design.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Focus and prioritize. There’s only so much you can tackle at a given time.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Slack, Spotify, Sketch, Zeplin, Miro, Trello (or some other task management app), Notes from Apple, Google Drive, Docs and Calendar.

👉Find Mafalda on LinkedIn

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