Bec’s journey to UX research
The plan was psychology. Rebecca Le Souef has completed her undergrad and was about to apply for an honours degree. However, a placement with a registered psychologist helped her realise just in the nick of time that it wasn’t the path for her.
“It was like a lightning bolt. I still loved the field of human behavior but I knew listening to people’s problems everyday would be too difficult for me emotionally.”
Bec set out in search of an alternative career path which suited her interest in human behaviour. She landed a customer-service role with a software start-up. As the company expanded, so too did the world of user experience, which led to a promotion into an ‘early’ UX research role.
“I began working closely with customers, listening to them and documenting their difficulties when using our software. I would synthesise the most prevalent pain points and provide recommendations to our design and development teams. That’s actually really similar to what I do today at Latitude!”
Just as an exciting UX career revealed itself, however, so did a personal decision to start a family. From the moment she became pregnant, Bec knew that her personal preference was to be at home with her children.
Making home work
Bec spent a number of years prioritising life at home, as she and her husband raised one, then two boys. A natural go-getter, she soon found herself setting up into a home-based photography business. It was more successful than initially planned – her images would appear in the likes of Cleo and Cosmo magazines. However, she always kept in mind (and heart) a desire to return to UX. When her youngest son started school, she felt the time was right to switch things up.
“I loved photography but the business no longer suited what I wanted and needed. The boys were at school and I was spending much of my day-to-day sitting alone in a dark room retouching images. I get my energy from other people so I found it quite isolating. And at weekends, I’d be shooting weddings and parties at the expense of precious family time.”
Bec was prepared for a challenge in returning to UX after some time away. However, it proved a challenge to get back into the game.
“I had the skills but I lacked a current portfolio of work. After interviewing for a year without any success, I completed General Assembly’s UXDI. I felt like I knew my stuff given my past experience, but the course made me relevant again in the eyes of recruiters. Within a few weeks, I had landed a role in UX research. Since then I have undertaken a number of UX research roles in different industries before joining Latitude as UX Research manager.”
Life at Latitude
Bec has now been at Latitude for over two years, and as a natural people person, she’s loving it. She explains with real heart that it’s a place “filled with good humans”, where her work is highly valued. We get a sense of a woman who is embraced and appreciate for what she brings.
“I get to work with a fantastic team in a relaxed, rewarding environment. Research is seen as a very important part of the product development process – we have a fully-equipped in-house research lab, which is great. I feel that I’m contributing to something important.”
So how about the family balance she has always prioritised so highly?
“Flexibility is still so important to me – it’s something my managers and I agreed early on. I start at 7:30am and leave at 4pm in time for school pick up, whereas my husband does an afternoon shift so he can drop the boys off in the morning.”
Bec emphasises that flexible working arrangements are not limited to those with family commitments.
“Latitude realises that we all have lives. For some people, their family are their dogs! Everyone here has the opportunity of flexible arrangements. It’s amazing how rare this is. It’s about being open and honest. If you have the right work ethic, Latitude doesn’t put up parameters when you need a hand.”
“Girls don’t know”: The UX diversity challenge
Finally, we ask Bec for her take on gender diversity in the UX space. She’s confident that more women are pursuing careers in her field but says the tech industry still has some distance to go.
“When I graduated, I would never have thought I would end up in a digital role. Members of the public come in to test our products and so many say, ‘Wow, if only girls could see what you do here!’. And it IS cool tech! We’re mixing human behaviour and psychology with the digital field. Girls just don’t know they can do this for a living. I would love to go out there and show them!”
Please do, Rebecca. Please do!