This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Lucia Bustamente, one of our Uruguayan ADPList’s mentors.
Lucia is a Lead Product Designer at TheoremOne. With over 7+ years of experience, she is a multidisciplinary designer based in Uruguay with a background in Industrial Design and Computer Processing.
Do you want to find out more about Lucia’s mentorship style? Then keep on reading!✨
Of course! I’m an extremely curious person, I like to ask myself difficult questions about the universe and our existence. And I also tend to subscribe to youtube channels about weird facts in history and science.
I am fascinated by traveling and learning about other cultures. I cannot spend too much time in the same place as I live in a small country and in a very quiet city.
I’ve always been drawn to technology and video games and I always knew my work would be related to tech and computers. My restless nature led me to study several things. I have a background in Computer Processing, and studied Industrial Design but for about 7 years I dedicated myself fully to Digital Product Design. I love my job so much that sometimes it doesn’t feel like a job, therefore I feel very lucky to be able to make a living doing what I enjoy.
I’m very interested in volunteering, especially in being part of causes that promote gender equality. Working in a male-dominated field, and living the challenges of being a woman in tech, encouraged me to found a community called Mujeres IT.
I love stray dogs, and personally feel an uncontrollable need to pet them. I’m a fan of amusement parks and horror movies. I also collect toys that are movie or video game characters, I think I’m an eternal child.
My favorite food is ramen, I love the concept of “umami” and I haven’t found it in any other food yet.
I recently became a lead designer in the company I work for, and that was very exciting. And I recently got a house!
Sure! Winter sports, in Uruguay we are not very acquainted with snow, and I am really not good at extreme sports. Also, I consider being a summer person.
The pandemic forced me to exercise at home since I couldn’t go back to the gym. A hobby I acquired during lockdown was buying gym equipment, and exercising with youtube videos. I’m glad that at least I picked up a healthy habit!
Another hobby was baking bread, I think the same thing happened to many people, anxiety makes you hungry!
I think it depends on the context I live in. Perhaps the impact I could have made 20 years ago may not be the same today. Nowadays, in a world dominated by technology and the digitization of data, I understand that my role is essential to make all these information, products, and services easy to use and process; so that people can take full advantage of the functionalities and optimize the tasks they perform.
Having a user-centered mentality, and a high level of empathy makes it easier for me to put myself in the place of others and solve problems more objectively.
Thanks to the holistic view I have as a product designer, the ability to connect all the dots in the face of any problem and how one thing affects the other. I have been lucky enough to generate a high impact by working for various industries such as healthcare, retail, and government.
For example, in the case of retail, I worked for a point of sale product in the UK. And together with design, I helped customers have better control of their businesses, and allow restaurant owners to continue operating during covid.
And in the case of the government, I designed applications that automated the entry and processing of large volumes of data in procedures that have an impact on the entire population.
The greatest impact I generate is in making technology friendlier and solving problems, but also being able to help other designers to develop their careers through my experience.
I’ve been through many moments like this. For example, every time I have wanted to make a transition in my career. I remember when I had the first opportunity to work abroad in a tech startup, in a language that was not my native language. I was very scare, and did not know if I was going to be able to do it. Much of this feeling comes from impostor syndrome, which happens a lot to us, women, who work in technology.
Over time I have learned that the only way to move forward and grow is to leave the comfort zone and face your fears.
A recent moment where I didn’t know if I would make it, was when I had the opportunity to be promoted to Lead Designer of a very large project. I had many doubts about whether I was really capable of doing it. I had several talks with my manager, and the way I got over it was to take over slowly by learning gradually.
I think that in our professional life if we are restless and ambitious people, we often find ourselves in this type of situation. And because we often encounter challenges, we get a kind of training in finding solutions for them.
Yeah, I actually didn’t start in design but first decided to study Computer Processing because I wanted to become an engineer. As a student, I was 1 out of 3 women, in a class of 43. So ever since I’ve been very young I wondered why there were not as many women in universities. Why I don’t see women in tech? That is why in 2018 I decided to found a community of women in tech called Mujeres IT, with the goal of making women visible in tech, not only in the US but in Latin America as well.
We do a lot of initiatives to make people know why women in tech are important and why technology needs women. So yeah, we are doing mentorships and partnerships with companies that need to educate their employees about gender in order to include more women in the field as well.
I myself have faced challenges with being a female in tech. For example, during an interview, sometimes I feel like I need to demonstrate more than I am qualified just because I am a woman. Or sometimes I would not apply to a position because I don’t fulfill 100% of the requirements when any other man would without a doubt.
Fortunately, I have been in the industry for around 11 years now, so I learned how to face challenges and understand how the industry moves from the inside but I am aware that it is still quite a challenge for women who are just starting in the industry.
The type of mentoring that I want to continue offering is the one based on actively listening to the other.
Firstly, understanding their story or the context of their concerns by letting them speak.
I am very interested in focusing my mentoring on designers who are taking their first steps. I like to generate empathy since at some point I went through several of the situations they are experiencing when I was younger.
During my sessions, I lead them towards reflection to help them protect themselves by being aware of what their current situation is and to understand where they want to go by setting goals. Based on that, I give them actionable advice to be able to achieve their goals. I try to monitor their progress as well, soI promote scheduling as many sessions as necessary until they have achieved their goal.
I try to give specific actionable items for each individual case. For example, telling them about my own experience, and what it means for me to be a Senior Product Designer.
We talk about the nice and challenging side of the role, what tasks I do on a day-to-day basis. I also tell them that it is essential that they understand what they are going to encounter because the idea they have in their minds may not reflect reality.
The mentees often come with feelings of anxiety, and with the hope of being able to become seniors overnight, which is utopian.
It is a profession in which you learn more from practice than from theory, which takes time.
Less is more, especially when reviewing portfolios.
Designers who are starting out tend to put everything out there. And in many cases, the role with which they are represented in their portfolio does not match the projects they show, due to the mistaken idea that “showing more is better”, which added to bewilderment or confusion as to which direction to take.
I always recommend, less is more, also think of yourself as a brand.
I ask my mentees How would they sell themselves? Put yourself in the eyes of a recruiter, why would they want to hire you? Then they understand what they must remove and leave in the portfolio.
That’s a great question. I think it’s very important for the tech the signs of burnout before it happens. You know, signs like okay, I feel tired. I’m doing everything wrong. I don’t see my friends. I don’t see my family. You know, little signs that indicate that you’re about to burn out.
I think the key is prioritization. I keep a to-do list and try to finish first the things that are easier to then be able to focus on the harder tasks.
For me, it is very important to follow my calendar and block some hours to concentrate, to find a space for focus time. And it’s very important that you find space for yourself to say okay, I will finish today at five o’clock, six o’clock, and after that, I won’t be scheduling any meeting. I will dedicate time to go outside, watch a movie, exercise, walk around the park, etc.
It’s very important to keep your mind healthy and I learned that recently because I was kind of a workaholic, and I love so much working that sometimes I can spend the whole day in front of the computer and that’s not life. I mean, you can earn money and produce things that are amazing, but that’s not life. And it’s very important to find a balance between personal life and work.
🤙 Check out ADPList and book a session with this amazing mentor. Lucia will be happy to guide you throughout your journey!
Thank you so much for reading this article! See you next time!