Meet The Mentor – Llara Geddes

Written by: on April 1, 2019
Tags: Day in the life of, Interviews, Meet the Mentors, Role Model, Women in Tech

Meet Llara, the current Lead Tutor on the InnovateHer ‘Tech For Good’ programme at Cedar Mount Academy in Manchester.

Sian (left) & Llara (right) the volunteers on the Cedar Mount Academy Programme.
Sian (left) & Llara (right) the mentors on the Cedar Mount Academy Programme.

Llara works in user experience or UX. That means that she does research to understand how people interact with products, websites or apps, so she can make recommendations to improve those products for customers. She’ll then start the process of designing the experience.

How did you get to where you are today?

Hard work, good luck, good relationships and an open mind! But, before I worked in UX, I spent a long time in customer service, then marketing and social media. Which combined made me really appreciate the different ways in which a company can communicate with and affect its customers.

What skills do you think you need to do your line of work?

You need to be curious and have an open mind. You need to be someone who’s happy to ask lots of questions and is happy to be proven wrong or discover that things aren’t as expected. And you need to be focused on solutions and solving problems. It’s a big help if you’re good with people and can communicate your research outcomes and ideas.

Cedar Mount Academy InnovateHers their trip out to industry at the BBC Media City.

Describe your average day.

I head up our UX team so might spend time in one-to-one sessions with my researchers, or attending meetings to input into work being done by the team. Or I could be visiting a potential client to pitch for new work or working on how we best demonstrate our services to them. Some days we’ll be in full research mode, interviewing our client’s customers or getting them to show us how they work with products, or we could be spending time with data analysts or developers understanding how best we can build and measure the things we propose to do.

Any advice for a young person who might want to do this as a career?

A lot of people come into UX via design, computer science or psychology. But you get people from backgrounds as diverse as mine, architecture, law, engineering, linguistics and much more!

The discipline can be split into research (understanding) and design (solutions), but in many places, people do both. The best way to get involved is to do your own research – get reading to understand the industry and start asking lots of questions. If you can go to industry events and meetups that’s where you’ll actually start to meet people in the industry and it’s a great way to get involved in the tech community too. Most people are really friendly and happy to share their advice and wisdom.

Why did you want to become an InnovateHer Mentor?

I took a long time to find my place and had no idea what career options were open to me. I love that InnovateHer brings this information to girls in school and gives them much more control of their future.

And I passionately believe that girls have so much to give in the STEM area – without diversity, equality can’t exist – gender equality is a step in the right direction.

Do you want to inspire the next generation of InnovateHers like Llara? Find out how you can become an InnovateHer Mentor here.

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