Early years and where you came from?
Being part of a family with strong backgrounds in teaching and entrepreneurship, I was the type of kid who loved to learn and was encouraged to explore. My only struggle was to understand where to focus since I both loved arts (at 4years old I had my first drawing hosted at the local art gallery as a result of winning a contest to “represent liberty without words”) and I also loved reading and writing (at the age of 11 I had already read “Don Quijote de la Mancha” and at age 12 I wrote my first volume of short stories). As I could not decide which way to go, and I also loved everything web and design-related, when the time to apply for university arrived again (after 1 boring year at architecture course), I decided to go all-in into Multimedia and Communication.
How were you introduced to the world of the Portuguese tech industry?
While I was completing my master degree on Multimedia and Communication, I managed to enroll on a research scholarship and that was how I got into the Portuguese Tech industry world since I started to work with PT Inovação and I fell in love with turning the Tech world into a more User-Centered one, and since then I never left the Portuguese tech world.
Walk me through your work and what you are doing now in the tech industry.
As a Lead Product Designer, I not only strive to implement the best data-driven and user-centered practices into product design and development, but I also do this while mentoring, coaching, helping junior designers and also make bridges between designers, product and engineering.
I am also the co-Founder of the Design Research Community, where I am focused on engaging professionals from all kinds of backgrounds with the processes, methodologies and tools that can enable data-driven design best practices.
On top of this, I am also a professional trainer for UX/UI professionals-to-be on the following modules: UX/UI Foundations, User Research, Information Architecture, Visual Design, Interaction Design and I also teach them about Digital Transformation through UX and UX Discovery for Innovation.
What part of what you do, you love the most?
There are 3 main parts I love the most about what I do:
1) Having the luck to be in a continuous study journey (because being user-centered and data-driven means learning a lot about people and also about data)
2) Being able to evolve by experimenting with new methodologies, processes, tools, ways of work;
3) Having the possibility to learn from others (my students, trainees, colleagues and mentors) and eventually share my findings with them
How do you think that your background and knowledge impact the way you approach your work in the Portuguese tech industry?
I think having a learning mindset really helped me work my way on both pragmatic and creative fields such as user centered software design and development because there it is impossible to have a “one size fits all” approach to this field: Tech is about Humans! :)
So, designing and developing tech on a user-centered is all about learning:
- learn what your users are trying to achieve;
- learn how they are doing it and
- learn why they are achieving it (or not).
What advice do you have for young women that want to get into tech and don’t know where to start?
Don’t wait until you feel you are ready! If what you have today is a great will to learn, then start now! Start with what you have and you will figure everything else along the way, as long as you keep on learning. ;)
Walk me through a day in your life as a Portuguese women in tech.
From 9am to 6pm: I am working as a Lead Product Designer with amazing designers, product managers and engineers to provide our users the most effective, efficient and outstanding product they will use.
From 6pm to 8pm: I share my time between developing the / engaging with Design Research Portugal community and giving professional training to future UX/UI designers
From 8pm to 9am: I am completely absorbed in learning from a future user of new interaction paradigms: my 2-year-old baby. :)
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“You do not have to be a machine, you are a human, so allow yourself to fail and learn from it.”
(I thought, as a woman in tech, I couldn’t afford to fail. I felt I needed to constantly be proving that I was good enough, that I was worth it, that I was perfect. At that time I was almost a machine and I received this advice from a senior colleague and but it started to make sense several years after receiving it and only now I know this was the best advice I ever had.)
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
As I have very different areas of my life, I can’t live without a kanban board or at least a do list (Trello, projectmanager.com, monday.com, etc). I also can’t live without communication tools, since communication is a huge part of my job (Slack, WhatsApp, zoom, google meets, glitch.com, you name it..) and also without something to document my findings (notion, EverNote, confluence, medium, etc.).
Then there are several other more creative tools I work with: sketch, abstract, miro, mural, Figma, affinity, mockplus, invision, etc.
Anything else you would like to share? :)
I would also like to stress that I believe my work journey has been great because of the many amazing women I’ve been lucky to share my life with. I had 2 working grandmothers (a farmer and a teacher) who also had their household and childcare duties, my mother (the most amazing teacher, focused on crafting better human beings) and all the strong, powerful women I’ve been lucky to work with, to teach and to learn from, who sadly all have stories about gender ou maternity discrimination, despite being anything less than super-competent professionals.
👉Find Marília on LinkedIn