WomenInTech: Lauren Barless

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Lauren Barless

Years in Technology: 7
Current Title: Product Designer
Current Organization: Format.com

1. Why did you join the technology industry?
What attracted me to working in product design was that the design process is user-centered. I previously worked in the marketing and advertising world, which is more focused on designing to the needs of the client, rather than the end user. In my current role, I love that I can have one-on-one conversations with my users to solve real problems, and directly impact their lives.

2. Who is the person who has inspired you professionally?
Tegan Mierle (iamtegan.com) is a close friend who really opened my eyes to the world of web design. She took a chance on me and hired me as a designer at her company Pilot Interactive in 2010, where I learned how to design for the digital space

3. If you could give one piece of advice to your 13-year-old self what would it be?

I wish I could tell my younger self to embrace her techie side and throw herself into learning how to code. It’s a skill that I picked up easily at that age, but I didn’t continue to pursue it. Trying to learn how to code many years later as an adult has proven to be much more difficult, andI wish I had just stuck with it.

4. How do you think we can encourage more women in tech?

It can be intimidating to get started in this industry, especially when you may not have the same background as your colleagues. But everyone has something to bring to the table, and diverse teams build stronger products. Tech companies need to make the effort to be welcoming, inclusive and encouraging to people who may feel like outsiders. The first step is to become aware of the issues around diversity, acknowledge that it is a problem, and take steps to address it in meaningful ways. Then they need to examine their company culture, create mentorship programs (especially for marginalized groups), and empower their existing employees to grow their careers with training opportunities.

5. What is the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is getting to see my work on Format.com being used by thousands of creative professionals around the world, every day. I love when we get positive feedback from our users about new features that I’ve helped to develop. It’s very gratifying to see people who are so excited for about a product update that they post about in on Twitter or Facebook.