Hi, I’m Brian Dys — a photographer from the inside looking out · a composer entangled in electronic music · a UX designer · a spouse, a parent, & everything in between.
Recently, we had an event in Avaloq called Open Mic Session. It was a small event for Avaloq Manila (Philippines) and Pune (India), along with the executive board. It had two topic categories which was voted for by employees. The first category was official company business and the second one were topics submitted by anyone who wished to share anything — a hobby, an advocacy, project accomplishments, or anything under the sun, really.
One of the three employee topics that was voted in was mine. It was all about my learnings and realizations in the ten months that I’ve been with Avaloq. It was timely to sit down and introspect how I’ve been in these past months — from being torn about transitioning into a different organization during the pandemic to being fulfilled that I’ve struck while the iron is hot. It was equally timely to share it with my colleagues, as well.
Here’s a transcript of my presentation:
Hello to my colleagues in Manila, Philippines (esp. to the UX design team), Pune, India, and Zurich Switzerland. And of course, to others who are in different locations. Thank you to all those who voted for my topic.
My name is Dys. I’m with Johann in the design team. I do UX design for web and mobile banking, as well as managing the design team here in Manila.
I joined Avaloq in May last year. So, I’m fairly new. In the 10 months that I’ve been here, there are many things that help me adapt in this new environment. Let me have the honor of sharing with you 10 things that I’ve learned & continuously realizing while working in Avaloq.
10. Avaloq delivers on my career expectations
Around March last year, I made a leap of faith when I accepted Avaloq’s offer. It was at the start of lockdowns and the pandemic, after all. Apart from being scared, I was excited because every aspect was a step up from my previous career. Fast forward to now, the level up experience is true — there are many new things that I face and these challenges keep me learning & growing.
9. Our company provides confidence in this uncertain times
Avaloq’s response to the pandemic gives me confidence that despite being in this challenging times, we are in a stable and growing organization.
8. We are Avaloq, we lead Avaloq
With a level of autonomy, we take ownership of our work. We are empowered to contribute and influence the direction of projects.
7. We are empowered to be heard
We have tools and processes in place that create a safe environment for us to listen and to be heard. We have an engaging feedback platform and my managers are open to listening and coaching.
6. The support system is strong
When I joined Avaloq, the team were there to help me onboard quickly. Until now, whenever I would need help from them, they are engaged and supportive.
5. Make the most out of meetings
Meetings, virtual or otherwise, are our opportunities to contribute to plans and our voices to be heard. And also bilas (or bilaterals) — it really helps in alignments and being on the same page with people.
4. In collaboration we thrive
Rarely that we, alone, got it all figured out. That’s why when we work together, we gain different perspectives of the same thing. And that makes solving problems faster.
3. Highs and lows, they’re part of it
Whatever happens, it’s our perspective that we have control of. As long as we learn from experiences, it’s all good.
2. Have something or someone to be thankful for
A little help from my teammate, my manager who’s coaching me. Acknowledgement of these things helps me pay it forward to others as well.
And for the most important thing…
1. Have fun at work and enjoy the thing that you do
That’s what my manager actually said during my 1st week at Avaloq.
Especially during these challenging times, looking at the brighter side of things surely helps.
Thank you everyone! Stay safe and healthy.
The presentation was only 5 minutes long and I had fun sharing it from this side of the world. If any, it was a message of inspiration to make good sense of different situations that we maybe in.
In 2 months, I’ll be celebrating my first year with Avaloq and it’s a new chapter for me. I’ll find out what’s next!
- Slide number 10 by Taha Mazandarani
- Slide number 9 by Dev Benjamin
- Slide number 8 by Tobias Mrzyk
- Slide number 7 by Matheus Bertelli
- Slide number 6 by krakenimages
- Music: Shake by Anno Domini Beats
The first time I’ve been at Avaloq’s office at Philam Life building was during my second interview. I was impressed by the interior design of the pantry. There by the couch were some company brochures in the style of a newspaper. I took one home to familiarize myself with the new company that I was planning to join.
Fast forward to almost a year, I was back to this office to get a Macbook device which was an official issue for UX designers.
While waiting, I hang out by the pantry and had some coffee. There were wine bottles and glasses on the wall but only as decor (they were empty, I checked).
Outside, during lunch, it was a typical workday — only that everyone’s wearing face shields and masks. There were many people lining up at Dunkin’ at Paseo Center. I went to Yellow Cab for a grub.
I was oblivious to the fact that some companies have their employees back on site until I went to the office myself. This was also evident on the road, by the number of vehicles going somewhere. Life goes on, indeed, with the pandemic still as dangerous as it started — we just managed to become familiar of how to stay safe in the outside world. I hope complacency in being careful does not get the best of anyone.
It was a Friday — a celebratory day wherein just last year when my officemates / friends would go out for dinner and some drinks, and sometimes the office turned on its party mode. Now, I had to rush home to avoid the heavy traffic in EDSA.
What permanently changed, we’ll only know as we’re putting old normal things one by one into the new normal.
Last month, I’ve wrapped-up with the 4th part of a talk that I’ve shared with the UX design team: Documenting your work as a designer. This topic tackles the other side of design work (and any work, in general), which is documenting your experiences and learnings from projects.
- Part 1: The whys and hows – anchor the documentation activity on a purpose
- Part 2: The process – making sense of the documentations and keeping them meaningful
- Part 3: The case of the briefcase & showcase – curations
- Part 4: The work – getting your hands dirty
The talk goes from abstract concepts towards concrete steps in starting a portfolio curation. What each of us actually produced were our top 3 highlights of last year.
This week at Avaloq, I officially re-wore my hiring manager cap for the UX design team, as we’ve officially published our open positions. I spent the latter part of the week reviewing applicants and determining who among them are candidates.
Appreciate all of you, designers (and you, one industrial designer, and also you, one visual merchandiser), for submitting your applications. Recruitment is still in its initial phases, so keep ’em coming!
So, what goes on in the process of having an application go from an applicant to candidate status? Let’s go over the surface of the skimming level of the recruitment process.
The goal of skimming is to prepare a group of applications for evaluation and deliberation. At this point, the objective aspect of it is the presence of two things: the résumé and portfolio — one cannot do without the other in order to have a balanced basis for moving forward with an application.
The objective-subjective part, on the other hand, is determining if the résumé and portfolio’s relevance and quality fit the bill. The criteria is essential to the objectivity of the process and in itself is subjective as well because it is based on our organization’s culture, team’s mandate, and my professional approach as a hiring manager, among others.
This is not a black and white approach either because even without a portfolio, if an application fits the criteria, it is put on hold pending completion of the tandem (résumé and portfolio).
At this early stage, the relevance of the résumé and portfolio pertains to the position being applied for (or with other available design positions).
- Is the work (includes personal) experience relevant (both in the field and number of years)?
- Are the portfolio items relevant (presence of UI designs and UX case studies)?
Bear in the mind that the recruitment is specific to the UX design team. Needless to say, a basic expectation is to be impressed by résumés and portfolios that are themselves designed — both information architecturally and visually.
- Is the résumé conducive to easy-understanding of the person’s strengths?
- Is the résumé visually-pleasing?
- Is the presentation of portfolio items conducive to easy-understanding of the person’s strengths (written descriptions and background information are essential)?
- Is the presentation of portfolio items visually-pleasing?
- Is the portfolio itself visually-pleasing?
Once an application fit the criteria, it gets a candidate status. Candidates are evaluated and deliberated along with others in the same category (e.g., associate category is separate from senior category). Skimming, true to the word itself, is a quick and reliable activity; still, a thorough process ensues in the next level — starting again with the candidate’s résumé and portfolio.
I know, the title says, Of cover letters because that idea inspired me to write this article (although it is mostly about skimming). Cover letter, it is cherry on top — when it is intended for the specific position being applied for (in contrast with a generic one). In my experience, a particular application with a specific cover letter is like hearing the person introduce themselves — in which, I would gladly listen.
A cover letter is not part of our requirements or criteria, though. An important note is that a strong application is holistic in its approach in propositions (i.e., job applications) and that includes a specific cover letter, a well-designed resume, and a cohesive portfolio.
This week, the UX design team is having our regular bilas (bilateral meetings) which, undoubtedly, is one of the most important part of Avaloq’s culture. Bilas serve a wide range of benefits from an unstructured kwentuhan to an avenue for the team to express what’s working and what could be better in terms of our daily work experience. This activity strengthens the bond among designers and empowers us in paving our career paths in the organization.
It is feedback that we get the most out of during bilas. Knowing that everything is going well with a person is a welcome relief, especially during this pandemic. On the other hand, feedback on how we are with our projects and collaborations is essential to the quality of our work and its outcome.
Here’s a simple guide for a constructive 1:1 discussion of feedback inspired by Scrum’s Sprint Retrospective.
Needless to say, any kind of feedback is better than no feedback at all. The source of the feedback is as important as the quality of the feedback itself.
Starting from one’s self, a self-assessment could be done then work outwards — from your own team towards cross-functional teams. The important thing to remember is relevance — the feedback must be coming from a collaborator or a person who has worked (or currently working) with you in a project.
Happy to be working with self-starters and a proactive UX design team. We catch and remedy difficulties and hindrances early on through our constant feedback activities and of course, through the openness of everyone.
Woke up early morn scampering to find all the knickknacks that once filled up my backpack. I emptied it since March early this year and retired it into a forgotten corner of the house. The quarantine’s end wasn’t in sight, after all. All the things that I think I might need when in the office were all lined up on my desk — they are the following:
- water tumbler
- coffee tumbler
- laptop computer
- notebook and pen
- battery pack
- digital pouch
- toiletry pouch
The bag? Yes, it’s nowhere to be found. I was about to check a mountain of luggage one by one and thankfully, Jaycelle was half-awake to tell me that it might be in a box full of bags. There it was, my old army green friend.