Hi Merlyn. Tell us about your typical working day
As a UX designer here at Avinode Group, I help our product teams build the best solutions by working closely with users and putting them at the center of things.
My typical working day starts with stand-up team meetings where we update each other on what happened yesterday and what we’ll do today. These meetings happen for both the development teams that I’m working with and the UX team that I’m part of as well.
From late morning onwards, once I’m aligned around what needs to be done, I’ll focus on my tasks.
It sounds like there’s always lots going on?
There is, yes, and no two days are the same. That’s one of the things I love about UX design, it never gets boring. We can always make the user experience better, and I love doing that while collaborating with like-minded people who understand the value of design.
And do you talk to customers much?
Yes, I do. I talk to them when we have a question in mind or want to test out a solution. This first-hand information from the people using the product is so useful. It tells us whether we’re on the right track, if some tweaks are needed, or when an idea is lacking impact. Our customers are amazing at supporting us because they understand that we care about their experience.
You were born and raised in the Philippines. How did you end up in Sweden?
While studying Business at University in the Philippines, I became involved in social projects. We were doing a lot of different things, such as projects to educate kids in nutrition and basic urban farming.
We had volunteers from all over the world come to help, and that’s where I met my Swedish girlfriend. We decided that it made sense for us to live in Sweden together.
And did you have a UX background?
Yes, I was already working in UX in the Philippines. I was at a start-up before moving to an agency where we worked with a range of different clients. That’s where I first thought that this is something I want to do seriously as a career.
The question was really whether it was possible to continue my UX journey in Sweden. It’s a big change in culture, there’s the language barrier, plus the fact that I had no experience of working here.
But it all worked out
Luckily, yes. Before Avinode Group I began working as a consultant for one of the big UX consultancy firms here in Gothenburg. While I was there I met some people from Avinode, and it sounded like a great company with great people.
I was also really interested in taking on a new challenge. I knew that Avinode was a complex system, and it was nice that they thought I would be a good addition to the team.
How different is the work culture in Sweden compared to the Philippines?
The corporate culture in the Philippines is more traditional. In Sweden, and here at Avinode, things are more relaxed and people trust you to get the job done. I feel free to share my thoughts and ideas because the people I work with make me feel like I can fail and make mistakes and that’s ok because we can just work on it together.
In the Philippines, people are obsessed with the 9-5. The commute can also be crazy – it could take 2-3 hours to get home with the traffic, which makes it hard to maintain a hobby outside of work.
So, you have more free time now?
I certainly have a lot more time. I can now make time in my day to sit with my thoughts, meditate and do some breathing exercises. That’s a big part of my morning for sure.
After work I try to exercise. I jog or go to the gym, and I’ve even got back into playing tennis. Sometimes I also play the guitar to relax.
And what are you loving most about life at Avinode?
I love that Avinode is a really friendly company for international employees. There are people from all over the world in the business.
Although we’re an English-speaking company, everyone is very open to me practicing my Swedish. They make it comfortable for me to do that – and there are lots of people in the same boat.
This has helped make it easy for me to integrate into the company and to life in Sweden.