We sat down with lead designer at Salesforce, Niamh Harman, to discuss her career in technology.
I'm Niamh, currently Lead UX/UI Designer at Salesforce. I work on the Business Technology team in Dublin, focusing on designing innovative employee-facing solutions for the employees of Salesforce. My focus is design for positive social impact. This has been explored through fitness & nutrition innovation through digital products, mental health wellbeing, design solutions for large corporate companies and working closely with charities to initiate awareness through visual design. I am always looking for new ways to combine design and technology to change people's lives, using design for social impact is an ever-changing space!
HOW DID YOU GET INTO TECHNOLOGY?
I started studying Visual Communication (graphic design) back in 2008 at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin and graduated in 2012. I loved every minute of NCAD: it was absolutely wild! I then went straight into agency life in Dublin, working on branding identities, food packaging and design for print. It really wasn't until 2015 that I started focusing on the area of UX/UI Design, studying with the UX Design Institute in 2018. Over the past few years, I have designed UX/UI design and branding solutions created for Intel, Vodafone, Bank of Ireland, Primark, Amazon, Microsoft, Laya Healthcare, Irish Distillers, EY and UNICEF.
I love to learn; I’m currently studying Design Management and focusing on how to be a better leader and grow a design practice.
WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CAREER ACHIEVEMENTS?
My biggest career achievement to date is the work I did with Spectrum.Life (Ireland’s largest employee health and wellbeing company) from 2014 to 2021. The company started as one of my branding clients in 2014, I worked with them as a freelance contractor in 2016, growing a small design team and then becoming Creative Director of the company in 2020. When I started with Spectrum.Life there were 10 employees; when I left, there were 130 employees. This was an amazing journey and I loved being part of an Irish tech start-up.
Some stand-out projects for me were the wellbeing brands (I still love identity design and strategy, even though I'm all about the product design space now). Finding ways to excite and empower employees to talk about their mental health and get more involved with their fitness or nutrition was an inspiring space to be in and seeing the social impact it had on people's lives was amazing.
Designing for the pillars of wellbeing — body, mind, and life - has so many impacting opportunities. Creating a well-being brand and a unique solution that employees familiarise themselves with can really help to break down any stigma associated with mental health and wellbeing.
My biggest personal achievement has been finding ways to give back. This is really important to me and being able to give back to the world in the form of design is even better. I've mentored 80+ designers through the ADPList and work as Impact Lead atADPList's new initiative Design4Changewhere I pair designers up with Non-Profits for pro bono design work.
Separate to design, I have been an active Soup-run volunteer with Dublin Simon Community, a homeless charity in Dublin for over 7 years, which is really rewarding!
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Put yourself out there and get a mentor! Follow the fun. Share your work with the world! You're not a heart surgeon - you're a designer. Nobody is going to die if you mess it up. Get a hard drive, back up your work! Also, it's ok to fail, failing is learning. Draw more.