I sat down with Laura Fritzsche for a coffee after being introduced by an mutual friend at Equal Experts. I was told about the great work she had been doing on the ‘Healthy Start’ project with the NHS which helps to support families with low incomes by helping them with vouchers towards fresh fruit, vegetables and vitamins etc. Laura has shared her incredible work history of working with Sky as their Lead UX Designer, she confidently gives her advice to anyone thinking about changing cities, or changing their career over to contracting. She encourages everyone to believe in themselves and shares a great quote around living life to its fullest 😊
Laura, you moved to Bristol quite recently, how have you found settling into the city and what do you make of the Tech community so far?
I moved to Bristol in November 2017 after being in Leeds for 15 years so it was a big change. My husband had set is own business up in the renewables sector and with his business partner being located in the south-west, it made sense to move. We chose Bristol as a base because we really love it after having a few weekends away here and for the tech opportunities with my job as a UX consultant.
You worked with Sky for a while, which looks interesting. Can you tell us a bit about the creative work you did there and what it was like moving up into a Lead position in the company?
Working at Sky was a great experience. I had the opportunity to lead 3 different teams during my time there. Firstly, I was responsible for a team who were essentially like an in-house marketing studio. We were responsible for everything from online adverts, tv adverts, print advertising and landing pages. I then moved into leading teams of UX/UI designers and frontend developers embedded into Agile scrum teams. The main challenge for me was not being a female in the company per se but shifting the mindset of designs that are created collaboratively, tested with users and any further priorities derived from user research. Overall, I learnt a lot from working with a diverse, talented bunch of people and on a wide variety of projects!
You made the plunge into contracting! As a recruiter, I find the contract market a lot more male led, why do you think women are maybe a bit more reserved when thinking about moving into contracting?
For me, I had an idea that contracting was not as secure as having a permanent role and also that there wasn’t as great a market for UX contractors as there is for say software developers. I was completely wrong! I originally went into contracting as a stop gap until I found the ‘dream job’ and I can quite honestly say it was the best move I ever made. It would be really difficult for anybody to convince me to take up a permie role again. Perhaps other women have the same reservations as I had or never really saw it as an option in the first place?
If you could literally go back in time and give yourself any advice with any barriers or challenges you’ve faced whilst being a female within a male dominated environment when you first went into contracting, what would you tell yourself?
I can honestly, hand on heart say say that being in a male dominated environment has made no difference to the way I work. I have been very lucky to work with extremely talented, kind people. I would just say believe in yourself, stand up for what you believe in and be open and honest with who you’re working with. Empathy goes a long way in work and life in general.
With contracting, you must have to adapt rather quickly into different environments. But if you could use your UX designing skills to map out your ideal working environment, what would it be?
My recipe for ideal working environment is all about the people you are working with:
• Working with people who have mutual respect for each others skills and experience
• Working together to solve problems
• Listening and contributing in equal measures
• Close stakeholder engagement
A nice office is great, but the teamwork makes the dream work 🙂
The Healthy Start project you’re working on currently sounds amazing, what is your role within the project and how is it all going?
I’m an interaction designer working in an Agile team of designers, developers, business analysts and a delivery lead for Healthy Start (as part of Equal Experts working with the Department of Health and Social Care). For those not aware of it, It’s an amazing scheme that supports families on low incomes by giving money to pregnant women, babies and children under the age of 4 towards fruit, vegetables milk and infant formula. Our goal is to digitise the scheme and make the application process as accessible and easy to use as possible. We are currently doing cycles of user research with our prototype every 2 weeks, testing a new iteration each time. There’s loads to do, but it’s been fascinating so far!
Who would be in your squad?
My husband, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, Richard Ayoade, Sara Cox and my best friend Jacqui
What’s your favourite quote?
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. – Ferris, from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Thanks so much Laura.
A voice for diversity in tech.