S2E1: Abbie Walsh – How diversity and design can be a catalyst for change

Abbie Walsh speaks to us about how diversity can be a tool to help designers and organisations face what Covid-19 has brought to the world.

Design Untangled | A UX & design podcast in plain English
S2E1: Abbie Walsh - How diversity and design can be a catalyst for change
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We’ve partnered with ProtoPie, the future of interactive product design, to help you navigate through uncertainty and overcome the challenges today’s unprecedented conditions have brought to the industry. Join us for Season 2 – Designing for a new level of uncertainty.

How can diversity in the design process help organisation future proof products and services in this unpredictable world we live in? Abbie Walsh talks about her diversity journey and how she’s helped organisations identify and overcome the biggest barriers to create an inclusive working culture using service design as a methodology.

Abbie talks about her experience as a gay woman in the design industry and how she overcame difficult challenges during her personal and professional life. She discusses the importance of creating spaces in organisations for people from minorities to have a voice and talks about the power of having diversity in design teams.

She also talks about a service design methodology called Living Business. A practical way to identify organisational blockers for change and a process to become truly flexible in these uncertain times. 

About our guest

We talk with Abbie Walsh, Chief Design Officer at Accenture Interactive (former Fjord) and recently recognised as one of the women who have shaped the Digital Industry in the UK by The Drum

Abbie has a strong voice for diversity within the industry, which she believes is a good step towards tackling unconscious bias in design. Before joining Accenture, she was at the BBC where she worked on the BBC iPlayer. 

What you’ll learn

  • How can diversity be a tool to help designers and organisations to face what Covid-19 has brought to the world?
  • What are the common problems organisations have about diversity and inclusion and how can service design help?
  • What benefits does diversity bring in the design process?
  • What is unconscious bias and how does it affect the design process?
  • How can organisations become flexible enough to be able to respond to fast changes and challenges?
  • How can companies keep being a people oriented organisation in the middle of a pandemic?

Show notes

Transcript

[S2E1]

Chris M.: I’m Chris Mears.

Carla L.: And I’m Carla Lindarte.

Chris M.: We’re two UX designers.

Carla L.: And we hate jargon. So we’re here to help you untangle the world of design.

Chris M.: Cut through the crap and talk about what really matters.

Carla L.: Yes, solving people’s problems.

Chris M.: Welcome to Design Untangled.

Carla L.: Hello everyone again, this is Carla Lindarte. I’m with Chris Mears, my friend Chris. And today we have a very special guest Abbie, who is the chief design officer at Accenture Interactive, which was former Fjord.

And Abbie, I’m very excited about having navy here, because she’s a voice for diversity, a very strong woman. She worked for the BBC before, she worked for the iPlayer, and she’s also a DJ, a journalist like amazing background. So thank you, Abbie, for being here. Did I introduce you fairly?

Abbie W.: More than, that was amazing. I think that you’ve definitely begged me up there, so thank you.

Chris M.: Do we need to use your DJ name?

Abbie W.: I’ve never revealed my DJ name unless you’ve found it out somehow. I try and keep that under wraps. Don’t want anybody searching for me; there’s probably one or two images that I regret somewhere.

Chris M.: Yes, we’ve all got those.

Carla L.: Chris is a DJ as well.

Abbie W.: Really? Wow. Are you still an active DJ Chris?

Chris M.: If you consider in my office room active, then yes very active.

Abbie W.: Fantastic, yes. One day, we’ll get together.

Chris M.: We’ll do a back to back set or something.

Abbie W.: Definitely, that’ll be amazing.

Carla L.: So Abbie, thank you again for being here and help us answer the question of this series, which is like designing for uncertainty. And we all know about like the times that we’re going through at the moment. And just wanted to ask you how has been the lockdown for you? Like having such a busy job, and like juggling kids and stuff. How has it been for you?

Abbie W.: Yes, I mean it’s been intense, hasn’t it? It’s been a bit of a crazy one; I’m sure we’re all feeling it. Luckily for me, I’m really lucky in that my partner, my wife Lee who is amazing. I’m going to plug her down, she’s an amazing photographer and art director, but she’s a freelancer.

So she and I made the decision that she would pause doing any jobs during the time when there was homeschooling. So obviously we had the kids at home, and my job basically took a turn for the interesting. So I’ve got this chief design officer title, but actually, my role morphed into really genuinely heading up design across interactive.

So across Accenture interactive in the UKI in a new org structure. So they brought together several teams, and I then was taking on not just Fjord anymore, but three other teams. So try to form a new team of 150 plus people during lockdown that was quite a challenge to say.

Chris M.: Yes, quite intense.

Abbie W.: Yes. It’s ongoing obviously, but I needed, I was so grateful to Lee really for stepping in because I really needed that. Those first few months were just non-stop basically, so it was full-on. And the kids I think just were missing me even though I was here, so I felt. Now it’s a little bit easier, and they’re at school. So I think it’s a bit, we’ve got a bit more balance. But at the time, it was a bit crazy.

Carla L.: And for them, it’s a bit weird, isn’t it? Because you have your parents at home, but you’re not allowed to talk to them.

Abbie W.: Or they’d just drift in. Like I’d have a pitch or something, this genuinely happened to me. And one of them would just drift in, and you’d suddenly see that little face the in the corner of the screen. And you could get away with it; people have had to be I think quite nice about it. But it slightly puts you off when you’re like in the middle of a flow.

Chris M.: [Inaudible 00:03:56.16]

Abbie W.: Exactly. They’re very cute. So I was trying to use that obviously to my advantage.

Chris M.: Yes. And so just thinking then about the whole coronavirus thing etc. Have you found you’ve been getting any different or I suppose like trends of questions or requests you’ve been getting from your clients at the moment? Like that have changed, maybe their outlook on how they’re approaching things?

Abbie W.: Yes. I mean I’m sure a lot of people in my position were feeling the same way at the beginning of lockdown, I was a bit worried. Because would design be something that clients would continue to buy when really there’s potentially a downturn coming? And that did concern me.

But actually, the opposite was true, so we are really busy, which is fantastic news. So I think I guess in terms of what I’m seeing, and that this is by no means comprehensive. But some of the patterns that I’m seeing, there’s kind of three. And I think there’s been a massive uptick in demand for customer insight, and particularly the kind of methodologies that we use.

So design, research using the kind of the more of the qualitative approach doing ethno understanding really the needs of the behavior changes going on, because of COVID and because people have different needs now. So I think a lot of our clients wanted to understand what that meant for their services. And whether they needed to do anything or change or rethink the way they were meeting the needs of customers. So our desired researchers have been pretty much sold out, really busy. Which is great, because it’s such an amazing and important part of what we do, I think.

So that’s one thing, and then I think another is actually over the past few years, quite a lot of companies have built their own design teams in-house, which is something that has happened quite a few times in the past. But right at the tail end of that, I think over last year. And what we’ve seen through COVID, is really kind of an urgency around enhancing those teams.

So bringing in some experts, some designers to help drive and accelerate the pace at which those design teams can be effective. And I think that’s probably because quite often what they’re doing, is they’re designing digital products and services. And a lot of clients have needed to massively accelerate digitization as you can imagine. Things that didn’t need to be online suddenly needed to be online.

Carla L.: Yes. So you think they’re going more like towards kind of in-housing a lot of these work, and getting support from consultancies and agencies to do that? Rather than getting a third party to deliver or just build this website very quickly?

Abbie W.: So it’s a combination. I think that is also happening as well. But I think where those companies have built in the house design teams, quite often it’s hard to scale that quickly. So to actually hire in that talent takes quite a long time. So if they needed to up upscale, which they have had to, then that’s a time when they can bring in people like us. We know how to, not only how to enhance capability, but how to build it.

So we’ve got the skills really to be able to jump in and help them in this time when there’s so much more to do in such a short period of time. It’s really just dropped teams in that can help basically. I mean it’s something that I think helps because we can become part of their culture, but also we can bring our culture. And I mean come on to that a little bit later, but I think injecting that pace that you can get from a design agency can be quite impactful I think for these companies.

Carla L.: Yes, exactly. Because they can’t, like as before, they don’t have as much time. I mean obviously, consumer needs have been changing so much and demanding so much from companies. But now, it’s actually even more important to be quick, isn’t it?

Abbie W.: Definitely.

Carla L.: I’m going to change a little bit the topic, talking about diversity. And I said at the beginning like you’re quite strong voice for diversity in the industry. And so I just want to know about your journey, and why you’re so passionate about this topic.

Abbie W.: Yes. I mean this could take hours, so I’m going to keep it as short as I can. But I pick one aspect of my journey, so being gay, right? And I’ve recently had to talk a bit more about this because I’ve taken on the LGBTQ plus sponsor role for interactive. So really standing up and saying right, I’m here and if you need me and let’s build a community, has made me really think about why I’m doing that, and why it’s important.

And I think if I look back over my career, it sort of started off with me probably carrying quite a lot of shame, and I think that’s a word that we have to say out loud. From my childhood, I didn’t feel very comfortable in my skin. I think being a child in the 70s and 80s in north of England, it wasn’t a great; it wasn’t a comfortable situation to feel like I might be different from everyone else.

So I think that stayed with me into early 20s and my first forays into work. And there’s probably been one or two particular things that have happened to me in my career that have given me the confidence to embrace that kind of otherness if you like, but it certainly hasn’t been easy. So whether that’s been someone that’s stood up and said I’ll support you, or here, I can see an opportunity for you.

Or whether that is somebody saying to me you being visible and out as a leader in design, has made me feel comfortable coming to work. So I mean that’s just one aspect. Obviously, I’m also a woman; there’s a whole intersectionality thing. And there’s a lot going on at work with the whole topic around diversity, particularly in terms of what’s happening with black lives matter and all of that. Is we’re in a situation now as an industry where we have to change, and we have to be better. And I would love to be part of that.

Chris M.: Yes, so I’d like to probe that a little bit. So I think everyone’s kind of accepted that the way things used to be done, is not the way they should continue to be done particularly at the moment.

I’m interested how you see diversity actually kind of aiding that change, and how having a range of different viewpoints and representations can actually help both deliver better outcomes to customers, but also like to the organizations themselves as well.

Abbie W.: Yes, I mean. So again, I think thinking about just the short sort of the last few months and the journey that I’m going on with my teams, and bringing together quite different cultures, quite different mindsets. So from everything from consulting, to pure craft people, to strategists, people with completely different backgrounds. That’s not an easy thing to do, but it’s absolutely the right thing to do for our clients, and for the industry, I think.

Because it’s in those intersections, so it’s in that kind of collision that you get when you bring those different mindsets together, that you really do I guess trying to think the right word, sorry. It’s in those collisions in those kind of moments that creativity really is true. In that, you get something that is lateral or is completely outside of what you’d get if you stuck to a formula that you’re used to.

Or you had a group of fairly homogenous group of people or designers. If you actually force collisions, and sometimes it can be quite tense, because you get people who’ve always thought in one way, and some people have always thought another. And you’re forcing them to kind of find a middle ground, and that middle ground means giving something up. But in doing that, you find something new, brand new that is additive.

And if I think back to your question, what I guess is important right now is that we have not seen this before, we haven’t been in this situation before. Our tried and tested approaches are not going to work. We actually need to shake things up and enable the insight and the accidental outcomes that will bring us solutions, by causing these collisions to happen basically. So it’s a tough gig because we’re doing it remotely. It’s almost another level of difficulty.

But I think if we can make it easy for people to admit that they are holding on to things, and help them let go of those things in a new way. Then really the benefit is there. So from a client perspective, clients are not stupid. If they see a team of straight white guys, sorry to call out the boys, working for them on a project.

More often than not, now they’re going to call it out. Because they know they won’t get as good a solution as they would get if they had a proper diverse and mixed team. And I’m picking on gender and race there, but I think there’s something about if you bring people who’ve got a real business mindset together with people who’ve got much more of a customer and craft mindset together. Clients increasingly want that as well, because they can see that there’s benefit in bringing those two mindsets into one.

Carla L.: Yes, it’s super interesting. Because when I was working in consulting, I did it for many years. I kind of saw a little bit of that transformation. I mean in this country, like a woman I’m not from this country, I’ve got an accent etc. It was really tough I remember being credible, and especially when I had people reporting into me, where they were like English guys sorry again to poke on the guys.

But it was very tough. But I mean I think these problems, some organizations still facing. But it’s interesting that you say that the things are actually changing. But what other kind of common problems you see organizations having at the moment in terms of diversity?

Because now, I don’t know how you feel about this, but I don’t know if it just becomes like ticking a box okay, yes, let’s just add a woman to this, rather than really like embracing the power of diversity and just making it happen for the whole organization.

Abbie W.: I mean again, a massive topic. But what I would say is I think underpinning all of this is unconscious bias. And that’s a much bigger topic to handle. So I sometimes get myself into trouble for calling it out, but I do if I encounter it, and it happens quite a lot. Because the problem with unconscious biases is unconscious obviously, we all have it. But it’s particularly prevalent when you get certain groups of people coming together, because there’s nobody in the mix to say actually that doesn’t work from this person’s perspective, just think about it.

And when you do that, which I have done many times, it kind of throws people because nobody wants to admit they’ve got unconscious bias and also you can’t see. If you’re coming from a place of privilege, it’s really hard to see that you’re limited in your view by that. So I think unconscious bias is a big one to tackle still. But obviously the last few months, there’s been so much action actually, talk and action that more and more people.

People who I think really didn’t get it before, are starting to I think really see it, which is positive. But I think we do have to tackle that mindset shift in organizations. And we have to enable those difficult; we need to create a situation in which someone like me can call it out. And I think that’s the thing, I’m quite seeing you now, so I do it.

But more junior people find it very difficult to call out when they experience the outcome of unconscious bias. Whether that’s sexism or micro-aggressions or all of those things. So I do think we’ve got quite a long way to go, but I do have hope because I can see a lot of change happening.

Chris M.: So I know it’s probably not something where there’s like quick winds or low hanging fruit around this, because it’s as you say it’s systemic change essentially.

But are there any bits of advice you might give to people who are either experiencing like on the bad end of this unconscious bias, or those who are actively trying to make sure they are delivering projects more inclusively? Have you got any advice that they could follow to help kind of move things in the right direction?

Abbie W.: Yes. I mean, so I think, and it’s hard to place yourself into someone else’s shoes sometimes, but I think that’s where you start and really talking about it has got to be the starting point. I think when it comes to the latter part of the question, which is about how do you avoid these kind of non-diverse situations. You’ve got to put that into your operations in a way; it’s got to become something that’s operationally normal for someone to not get away with creating a team that’s very homogenized.

So what I mean by that is it becomes so part of the routine you basically have maybe you start with like a checklist, and that sounds really obvious. But you have a checklist when you kick off a project, right? And you want to make sure that everybody has what they need. Part of that is our team reflective of the customer? Do we have a team that is diverse and therefore able to represent the customer that we’re designing for?

Or are we just in a bubble and an echo chamber? And I have intervened many times walking into a project team as we’re about to kick off, going you can’t have this team, we’re going to have to start again. Because it’s all men or it’s all white or whatever. So something like that is a bit more top-down, I think. Actually, having that as part of the process. And that, if you unravel that out, it’s like having representation at all in the team, and that’s a much bigger topic around recruitment and the industry.

And the industry being quite difficult to enter, and that is a whole topic that needs to be addressed. And a lot of people are trying to work out how to fix that. But the way that then ends up in a company like mine is there isn’t enough representations. We do have to keep pushing and forcing that as well. But then if you go down to the project level, we have to do everything we can to make sure that we’re not showing up.

I mean and genuinely have a brief, which is to create something for middle-aged women. And it’s all men on that team, that’s just not going to work. So that’s one, and then the first bit, which was about how to deal with, was it how to deal with unconscious bias or how to call out? Yes. What’s really amazing, I think, and I’m always really impressed by this, is that the teams are so good at grassroots interventions.

As in I don’t really want to call anyone out, but there’s a team that I’m working with, and they’ve created this kind of safe space for female designers, which they’ve invited me along to. And it’s such a safe, open conversation, discussion they can talk about anything safely and not feel the pressure of is somebody going to judge me? And within that, I think you can build confidence.

So I would encourage people that have teams to create safe spaces, where you can talk about how they’re really feeling and what they’re experiencing, and then work out together how to intervene because each case is very different. It might be that you coach them about how to deal with the situation themselves, or you have to step in or something else. But I think creating safe spaces where people can start to voice some of these concerns is really important.

Carla L.: That is really important. I mean in my working experience, again going back to that, I’ve experienced a lot of like sexism and racism. And it’s very subtle, but then you as a receiver kind of like you can feel it, you can feel it. And even as I said to you before, as I said before, being more senior than the people doing it.

Still, like I was so scared of saying something because it’s kind of like you show weakness. It’s like oh, they’re going to think that I’m weak and I’m not strong enough, and I need to put up with all these things. But since I started working at Google, they actually create all these spaces where you could go and say something.

It’s actually like lots of living channels where you can go and say something, and it’s so important to have that space. Because you don’t feel like you’re going to be judged, but still the organizations can listen to you. And sometimes action it, I mean sometimes they don’t do anything. But at least you know that you have that space.

Abbie W.: Yes, definitely.

Carla L.: So that is super important. And I’m glad that all companies are trying to follow this because it’s going to help a lot of people out there who for some reason, they think they’re different. Or they are different, and it’s okay to be different, so yes.

Abbie W.: Yes.

Chris M.: Cool. I’m going to jump to a slightly different, well, marginally different topic and then talk about your experience working on BBC iPlayer. For anyone that’s not in the UK listening, that’s essentially the video player or video consumption kind of app for BBC content.

So yes, I’m just interested to hear a bit more about how you’re involved with that. And also how you tested with users, particularly as regards like making it accessible and inclusive and all that kind of stuff.

Abbie W.: Yes. I’m totally happy to talk; I would just caveat the fact that this is a long time ago. So this is like 12 years since I worked at BBC.

Chris M.: Okay.

Abbie W.: But the thing is it stayed it stuck with me because it was such an impressive setup actually. And an amazing team, I learned so much from working there that I think I carried through with me in life, in other jobs as well. But I think it was, talking early 2000s here, I think the BBC were incredibly hot on this topic.

Probably way ahead of their time actually. And what they were trying to do with the iPlayer, I think it’s hard to realize now, but they were inventing something that didn’t exist for an audience that was completely inclusive. So the iPlayer was for everyone that had a TV license, which was huge percentage of the population of the UK. So it had to be usable by everyone, which I remember the time thinking that’s just crazy.

Kind of flies in the face of everything you learn about how to design a product. But they did it, and I say they, we, I was obviously part of the team. But we, they have amazing access to audiences. So they really, the use of the audience as they call them a part, we’re part of the design process throughout.

And so it was tested in releases, and it would be tested with a panel, and they’d have like different versions of you of user testing throughout the entire product, design and development process. So really impressive, more than I’ve seen since, in lots of times, I never see anything as robust as that. And in terms of accessibility, every design that they ever did had to be accessible. So they had a team completely dedicated to accessible design. So they had to meet the highest standards of accessibility. So it wasn’t an add-on, it was part of the design process I’d say.

And I just remember one really, I don’t know if this is relevant now, but if you think about the interface today. I just remember so. Clearly they’d done all of the testing’s using basically wireframes, up to the point where the UI was going to be designed. And I think they, I don’t even know who it was, but they went out to tender for the UI design.

And in the end, it was done by the in-house BBC team, because what was designed externally, because again I think it was so new, just was not accessible or usable enough for the audience. So they designed it internally, and that interface that they designed is pretty much still the basis of what you see today. And it was a really tiny team. So I don’t know I’ve got a lot of praise for them. I think I feel really proud to have been part of that team.

Chris M.: Yes. It’s surprising how little it’s changed; it’s almost like the IOS of video sort of content platforms, isn’t it?

Abbie W.: Yes, it really is. If we look at what’s happened since nothing really has deviated that much from the idea.

Carla L.: Yes, that’s amazing isn’t it how, and that’s how important it is to be inclusive. Because then you can future proof products, and then they can be live for many years. Obviously, with today’s situation, again, like being flexible as an organization like it’s super important to be able to respond quickly to customer needs.

How have you been advising your clients to do that? And perhaps we can talk about a bit of live-in business. And tell us a little bit what it is, and how it’s helped organizations going through this pandemic?

Abbie W.: Brilliant, yes. No, thank you for that. I think living business is, it’s something we’ve been building up for a few years. But I mean it’s definitely really needed now in terms of it’s a bit of a, it’s a framework really. It’s a kind of way of helping organizations think in a certain way, and it brings together lots of different design disciplines and methodologies.

But essentially, it’s about helping companies organizations to think about themselves much more holistically. And their people and their customers as being really interconnected. So if you’re trying to do something for your customer, your people need to also feel the kind of same level. It needs to be that your brand purpose speaks to both your customer and your people in the same way.

And that you need to connect those two things or all of the organization really in a kind of, an inorganic way that’s really flexible, and that can shift and change in this kind of world of constant change that we’re in today. So I mean there’s never been a more important time for people to be able to do that. And I think it’s quite a big, I mean the idea of it is quite big, and it’s quite a lot to take on all at once.

But there are ways you can break it down. So we’ve worked with clients over the years in lots of different ways. But I think where we would start is this methodology we have called the vital science audit. Which is essentially working with the client to understand how well set up, they are for change culturally. So what are the cultural barriers to change? And then potentially what are the biases that they have internally that are getting them in the way?

Getting in the way, sorry of them being able to make change happen quickly and positively. And that kind of audit helps us understand then what interventions might be needed. So one of those interventions might be okay; they actually need to build an in-house design team, to help them create better products and services for their customers. So we can help them with that.

Or they might actually need to shift their thinking from being quite product or business-centric to being customer-centric, which is another thing we’ve seen a lot of. And how you do that is really about strategy, and kind of getting them to rethink their strategy through a design lens and through human lens.

But yes, so the topic itself is large, but essentially it’s about stopping, moving from being quite a mechanistic structure, to be something much more organic and human as a business, and that’s all.

Chris M.: Are there any common patterns or problems you see organizations having? Or is it generally quite unique to that specific organization?

Abbie W.: I think there are, I mean a lot of the time, and again we’ll probably see this now with the changes that are happening due to COVID. A lot of the time, you get like a CEO or a C-suite that really buy into this change.

And they can see it, and they want it to happen. It’s when you kind of move down through the organization that you get quite a lot of stickiness. So people who have run things in a certain way for certain period of time, or they feel, everybody feels like it’s human nature.

You feel a sense of self-worth by what you have control over. And essentially to do this, and to make this change happen, or to even constantly make change happen, you need to be able to relinquish control. And a lot of organizations, particularly at the kind of like below C-suite level, find that really difficult. It’s a cultural stickiness if you like, and that’s quite hard to overcome.

I think that is underestimated when organizations want to go on this kind of change. And if you look I mean I don’t want to mention any company names, but there are ones out there where you can see they’ve probably Google is probably one of them.

But where you can see that it’s not just come down from the top, it’s embedded in every aspect of the organization. In fact, I will call out one company because I can, and that’s Accenture, Accenture is amazing at this.

Accenture has just launched its new purpose and strategy, which is accessible to everyone. But the way that manifests internally is the key to success. It’s about everybody internalizing that, and then shifting behavior to make that happen, which takes huge amount of effort from everyone.

Carla L.: It’s interesting, because I mean you would normally do this kind of process with companies like just running lots of workshops and getting them to feedback etc. Doing lots of like research as well, and part of that ethno approach is to be there to observe to kind of like, but now without that physical contact.

Obviously, I guess you have the common challenges of like doing everything through zoom. But is there anything else that you’ve seen as like current constraints that these new situation is bringing to that process for organizations?

Abbie W.: I mean I think this cultural stickiness is really hard to overcome anyway. I think if you’ve got an organization that is quite constrained hierarchically. So if your structure is quite rigid, then right now in the world of, if your company that where everybody was in the office, and it was quite sort of top-down and you had those hierarchies.

I think I could imagine when that now suddenly has gone remote, that is really difficult to make that shift because it’s not only necessarily about technology, although technology is probably a part of it. For some of those companies, they’re not as digitally savvy potentially. But even when they’ve overcome that, it’s kind of that level of trust that you have to have in your workforce.

So you’re not seeing everybody every day, how do you A, maintain trust between you, and how do you influence people. What are the ways that you do that? And I think if you’ve got that inherently in your organization, then the covert situation probably hasn’t hit you as hard.

Carla L.: Yes, exactly. I mean if you just like wrap up now. If you were a designer, obviously you’re a junior designer like navigating today’s complexity, working from home, trying to do your job. What kind of advice do you give them, to first be able to navigate through these uncertainty, and also to be able to embrace diversity and all these very important topics we talked about today? What advice would you give them?

Abbie W.: Yes. Actually, I think because we talk about coaching and mentoring and things a lot, which I think are really important. And finding a coach or a mentor someone that you look up to or trust I think is a really valuable thing to do, and I would recommend it. But what I’ve done recently, what I think is really powerful is to find someone who can be a sponsor.

So in this time of being remote, is there someone who will help you still be challenging yourself and go beyond your comfort zone. And actually put opportunities in front of you. So not just kind of coaching which is asking you, getting you to talk about yourself and talk yourself into a situation. A sponsor should specifically put somebody in to a situation that will help them grow.

And it sounds like an easy thing to do, but I think it is worth the effort to find someone that will do that, either within your organization. And it doesn’t have to be a boss; it can be someone completely different. Or outside of your organization. I think looking for a sponsor that will not necessarily be your friend even but will help you push yourself. I think that’s a really important thing to do.

Carla L.: Yes, that’s really important. I think throughout my career, I found a lot of sponsors, and I think that’s why I managed to do a lot of the things I wanted to do. Last question, and I always ask this question to all our guests, and sorry if I put you on the spot.

But is there a book or a person to follow or video to watch to a podcast to listen to, apart from design untangled, which is the best one? That you could recommend designers right now, yes anything can work.

Abbie W.: Exactly. So I think, I mean I have a few that I would suggest. But one that I keep going back to, it’s nothing to do with design. is anything by Mary Beard. I love Mary Beard, she’s amazing. But the book, particularly the book called women and power, a manifesto. It’s very short; it’s more of a lecture.

It’s incredibly powerful about how societal norms have formed us as women, and how we need to overcome that. And then for leadership stuff, I love Simon Sinek and Adam Grant, so leaders eat last, the infinite game and give and take, their three books that I would recommend.

And then as a kind of handy guidebook, if you’re a leader, I would recommend create a gender-balanced workforce by Anne Frank which really gives you, it sets you up with the argument and then it tells you how to go about it basically.

Carla L.: Oh, that’s good.

Abbie W.: And I love Roxanne, so Roxanne Gay on Twitter is my inspiration.

Carla L.: Oh, really, okay. I have to follow that.

Abbie W.: Yes.

Carla L.: Thank you so much again, Abbie, for being here with us. For me, it’s been amazing talking to you about all these very important topics. I wish we had more time to talk about it. But thank you so much.

Chris M.: Yes, thank you very much.

Abbie W.: Absolutely, thank you.

Outro: Search and subscribe to design untangled using your favorite podcast app, and leave us a review. Follow us on the web at Designuntangled.co.uk or on Twitter @Designuntangled.

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