– Hi, I’m Joe Welinske, and I’m the program manager for Convey UX. And that’s been Seattle’s annual user experience conference for the last past seven years, and our eighth year is coming up March 3, 4, and 5 in downtown Seattle, and produced by Blink. As program manager one of the fun things I get to do is talk to our many speakers, and today I am talking with two people. Haley Henderson and Jae Lee. Hello Haley and Jae, how are you?
-Hi Joe, how are you?
– It’s great to have you in the program. You are colleagues at the same organization. Where are you talking to us from today?
– From Atlanta, GA at the Honeywell office.
– Well, why don’t we start with you talking a bit about your backgrounds. And so Jae and Haley why don’t you just jump in and let us know what you’re up to.
– Sure, I’ll start. Both Haley and I work for Honeywell and when you think of Honeywell you may say that “Oh that’s the thermostat company”, right? But we actually do a lot more than that. We have multiple verticals. One in aerospace, one in workforce productivity, and Haley and I are both senior product designers for the building technologies. We do more than thermostats, we actually work in the security segment for the commercial side of it. So that’s, you know, keeping not only the operators and employees safe, but also the customers at airports, casinos, hotels, and any big buildings that you can imagine.
– And Jae, how’d you get into the UX area.
– Yeah, that’s a good question. So in college I was trying to explore what I am interested in and I happened to land on graphic design projects, and interactions around it. And I loved it. But, I felt that the medium we were in was mostly focused on print and packaging was a bit limiting. So I wanted to go out into the digital space, and Owen Love found internship opportunities and now became a full time job.
– And what about you, Haley? What’s your journey been like?
– Not too different from Jae’s. I started college and was in a business major. Kind of like what everyone does who doesn’t know what they want to do. I had to take a computer science, visual basic programming class. For some reason I loved that class and to be able to make programs, “Hello World” and everything. So I dropped the business major and moved to information systems. Then, one of my friends had a job working UX right after college and he convinced me to apply and I magically got that job somehow. Have been doing that ever since.
– And so Haley, what are some of the things, day in the life or week in the life at Honeywell for you?
– So we fall more into the generalist category of UX So Jae and I will go out, do research with customers. Since we’re a B2B product right now we do a lot of competitive analysis. We’ll research features and stuff that our competitors are doing and try to incorporate a lot of that into what we’re researching, to make sure we’re going to be meeting the needs of our security customers. And then we’ll come back, we’ll do wireframes, our conceptual designs, prototype it, do new testing, meet with our developers, and business partners, make sure we’re inline with their goals for the year. That we can meet their deadlines with feasibility and everything. A lot of our team is offshore, so we have a lot of very late nights and early mornings with them to make sure we’re all aligned. Learning to use a lot of remote technology so that’s been a fun experience too.
– Well, I’m sure you have a lot of things going on all the time and we’ll get to your topic for the conference in a couple of minutes but are there any things going on that have your particular interest, or that you’re passionate about right now?
– Yeah, that’s a good question. So, a lot of times I think you find people passionate about certain technologies but I think as a generalist and UX designers working on multiple products it’s hard to be passionate about one thing when you’re talking about technology. I think we became more and more passionate about how we work. In part of that is collaboration, and facilitation. I believe that to be a key skill that I find to be hugely valuable and just the impact that we’ve seen. Cutting down days and days of meetings, or talking to someone down to a one hour or two hour session. With the people or partners that you are working with to be one of the things I am super passionate about. And so, because of that we’ve developed a workshop and ways to make facilitation a little easier to understand. And get hands on practices. So that’s something that we like to do outside of our work.
– Yeah and anything that you wanted to add to that, Haley?
– Yeah, so Jae and I also worked at HomeDepot together. And we were part of the digital software transformation. So HomeDepot was going from brick and mortar store to “How can we solve a lot of these big problems with software?” We kind of got into this whole balance, team facilitation techniques. Working together, and that’s why we came over here to Honeywell too. So HomeDepot is kind of leaning more towards the tail end of their digital transformation. They are running smoothly. And Honeywell had a new challenge and opportunity to spin up a new enterprise team. And figure out how to go from a manufacturing company to a digital software company, to solve their problem. So, that’s kind of what we’re excited about and what we’re doing right now.
– Yeah, well that is a very exciting time to be involved in a company. With so many opportunities to contribute. Well let’s talk a little bit about the session you’re going to do at the conference. So the title is, “Ingraining UX product and engineering to optimize product” So, tell us how you came around to that title and what you’ll be talking about.
– Yeah, like we were just talking about the digital transformation at HomeDepot. We talked a lot of balanced teams, and that’s how our product teams were set up. I’d never heard of it before I started there. It’s basically a trifecta of three people. It’s your product owner who represents the business value. The designers who represent the customer and user needs. And the lead engineer, who represents the feasibility of the solution you’re going to be building. And all of those people have their area they specialize in, but you all work very close together as a team. You kind of play in each other’s sandboxes so you understand where everyone in coming from and their concerns and what is motivating them. So you build a really strong relationship and everyone has the same understanding. You’re moving towards the same goal. And everyone is in alignment and you are building products quickly. We were getting a lot of products out within the first six months of the team even forming. We were saving a lot of money. And one of the teams I worked on, we were already delivering a million dollars of value within like the first eight months of production. Very effective based on our experiences. Very passionate about it.
– Yeah, and just to add to that. I think it was an answer to a lot of the challenges I think UX organizations face. For us, we’ve been at multiple companies now, and not only for Honeywell and HomeDepot, but previous companies. We think that this could be a really helpful tool that people can use to answer some of the challenges such as: Designers versus the engineers, or us versus them. Or even why do we have to do user research? And hopefully with this session we can help you take away some of the helpful techniques and even experiences that we have first hand. So that your work experience will be a little bit easier and better. For now only you but for the whole product team and your partners.
– Well, it’s definitely always a benefit when we can have these case studies where you’re able to share your real experiences with a process in an organization. So we appreciate you bringing that to Convey UX and we’ll look forward to seeing you here when you make your journey from Atlanta in March!
– [Haley] Sounds good.
– Thank you. Look forward to it!