Catherine is a UX Designer based in Cape Town, South Africa. She joined AWS in January, 2020.
HereAtAWS: Tell us about your career journey. What brought you to your current role at AWS?
Catherine: Prior to AWS I worked mainly for Insurance and Banking companies’ in Johannesburg and Centurion, whilst living in Pretoria. I had the opportunity to visit Cape Town quite often for work and was lucky enough to meet my current partner through that. We had a long distance relationship for a while and I decided to relocate to Cape Town to be with him. I reached out to AWS on LinkedIn and was lucky enough to get an interview, and the job. Luckier still, AWS was one of the few companies who could offer a good relocation package. Cape Town is an expensive city compared to the rest of South Africa. I managed to move all my belongings and furniture over which was amazing. A year later I’ve bought a brand-new home and I’m living the best life with my partner in Cape Town.
HereAtAWS: Can you explain in simple terms: your role, who your customers are, and how you help them?
Catherine: Being a User Experience Designer means that I get to solve complex problems for customers and make their everyday jobs easier. I have projects that stretch from tools for internal AWS support staff to external AWS customers.
HereAtAWS: What technical and/or soft skills do you need to succeed in your role?
Catherine: Technical skills include an understanding of design thinking and methodologies and processes required to complete the user experience design of a project from the discovery phase to the final design mock-ups, which I then hand over to the software engineers. The best soft skill to have as a UX Designer is empathy, being able to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and have a deeper understanding of the struggles that they go through to complete their job.
HereAtAWS: Have you had to learn any specific new skills (technical or soft) for your role?
Catherine: Being able to design for immense scale. AWS’s customer base is huge. Being able to design experiences that scale to meet the demands of thousands is definitely a skill that I picked up and that I’m continuously improving.
HereAtAWS: What’s the most exciting part of your job?
Catherine: Hearing from users how a simple change has made their daily lives easier.
HereAtAWS: What’s the most challenging part of your job?
Catherine: Being continuously innovating. Because of our brand our customers expect us to be at the forefront of innovation.
HereAtAWS: What initially interested you in working for AWS?
Catherine: The fact that it is a global company. Being able to work with people from all over the world is amazing and always eye-opening. It allows for so much more diversity and amazing collaboration with a wide variety of different perspectives and backgrounds.
HereAtAWS: What were you excited to be working on when you first got here?
Catherine: Anything related to AI and ML. Being able to allow technology to do more for customers so that they can do less, and focus more on the difficult problems that technology can’t solve for them.
HereAtAWS: What advice would you give people joining AWS?
Catherine: To think big. AWS allows you the possible to create things that others haven’t created before. You just have to be brave enough to put those ideas forward.
HereAtAWS: What three words would you use to describe workdays at AWS?
Catherine: Fast, innovating and diverse.
HereAtAWS: Do you have any needs or commitment that require flexibility in your role?
Catherine: Definitely, a lot of my team sit in Seattle, being able to take late night meetings in the comfort of my home is a huge win.
HereAtAWS: Is there anything else you would like to add about your personal journey?
Catherine: Being able to work for one of the best and biggest companies in the world while living in my home country close to family is something that I never imaged would be possible.