To celebrate women's month, we are sharing some of our inspirational community members here at SODA. Meet the fabulous Niamh Harman, Lead UX/UI Designer at Salesforce.
Where did you study and what got you into your profession?
I studied at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin from 2008 - 2012. At 14 years old, I knew I wanted to be a professional artist or designer. I was pretty awful at maths and science in school, but I loved art, design, playing music, theatre and photography, so art college was a no-brainer for me! I graduated with a degree in Graphic Design in 2012 and landed my first design job at a design agency in Dublin.
Over the past 11 years, I've gotten amazing exposure to the industry, people, and the culture of design studios, startups and tech companies; I still love it every day.
What have been your biggest and personal 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 design clients in 2014. I then joined the team as a freelance design contractor in 2016, growing a small design team and then taking on the role of 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. I was excited to be able to speak about this journey at the 'Festival of UX & Design, London 2021'.
I am now working as a Lead UX/UI Designer at Salesforce since April 2021. Our design team is global, so I am always learning new perspectives and growing my UX craft, as well as up-skilling and learning to be a better leader.
My biggest personal achievement is the work I did with Dublin Simon Community (Homeless Charity) for 9 years. Working with less-fortunate people sleeping rough on the streets taught me a lot about empathy and compassion, and kept me grounded.
I am also really proud of the mentoring work I have done over the past few years, I love watching people thrive and be excited about design, and I love being part of their journey and watching them succeed.
Finally, I am proud of my recent relocation. Last year I finally decided to give another city a go, so I am now living in Berlin and enjoying something new. It's such a creative city and I am really glad I made the leap, despite it being scary.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Chill out. You're not a heart surgeon - you're a designer. Nobody is going to die if you mess it up. Put yourself out there. Get a mentor, be a mentor. Follow the fun and do what makes you happy. Draw more. Read more. Be yourself. Travel, enjoy the world, work will be there when you get back. Helping people makes you feel good.
Look for inspiration in the world around you, and bring those experiences into your work. Don't pull all-nighters. Even when it's stressful, try to laugh it off. Don't take life so seriously. Sleep. There is someone that knows less than you do! Lead with empathy. Thank people, always. Bring your true authentic self to work.
What does an equitable space look like for you? How can this create impact?
An equitable space to me is where everyone has opportunities and resources to succeed. It’s where all employees are empowered to perform to their very best and they should feel that they are fully supported to succeed within an inclusive workplace. For me, as a woman in tech, it’s really important that I feel supported and have equal growth opportunities compared to men. I struggled with imposter syndrome and self-confidence throughout my career so having women role models in the workplace creates huge impact. It can be empowering to be surrounded by a group of individuals who can relate to your challenges.