Eight years ago, Andrea Zager left a successful career in finance to join Hexoo, becoming a lead UX designer for complex systems, websites and applications.
We sat down with Andrea to understand what it’s like to switch careers, and pick her brain about the User Experience world.
So, how did you end up a User Experience Designer?
I got into the field after working in finance for 14 years, first in the Czech Republic and then in Israel. In Prague I was a treasurer of an international brokerage company, managing risks and liquidity. Later, as a senior treasury sales of a leading bank, I tailored and sold financial products to blue chip corporations. In Israel, I helped a tech start-up sell its derivatives pricing platforms and risk management systems to major banks in Europe. I was making good money, but, as the cliché goes, something was missing. I wanted to get out of the world of deals and numbers, and start creating things – things you could touch or experience.
During those years, my life partner was managing a User Experience company, which, serendipitously, worked with a lot of clients from the financial world. He’d often consult with me on his challenges and run solutions by me, which both filled my aforementioned void and quickly made me fall in love with UX. From there, the decision to switch careers was easy.
How does your previous career help your current one?
Planning an experience is essentially prioritizing a system of complicated needs and decisions. The process involves comparing options, looking at alternatives and differentiating the important from the less important. These are things I used to do for years. Having intimate knowledge of the world of economics, finances and even the stock market has made it easy for me to plan products and services with a financial orientation. Our clients are used to making swift decisions under pressure, and my background allows me to comprehend their challenges in ways most design partners can’t. It also allows me to be more influential when developing new or existing products, all while ensuring users are led down an optimal path to everyone’s satisfaction.
What attracts you most about UX?
It’s an exciting, versatile field with different worlds of content, and I love that everything I do is rooted in human interaction. Every project brings different challenges, often requiring me to gain a lot of specific knowledge in a short amount of time. I love discovering new worlds with different rules, and the wonderful feeling of knowing people are using products I planned, designed and nurtured. Hearing clients talk about the meaningful change and impact I’ve made on their products never hurts either!
What has been your biggest challenge in the past year?
My biggest focus in the past year has been on optimizing the handoff process with the developers, whether they’re on the client side or at a different firm. My goal was to encourage collaboration early on, and ensure the final deliverables live up to our vision and standards.
What do you find most fascinating about your job?
Not to nerd out…but recently I’ve been especially drawn to Big Data. Thinking about rules and patterns to find a needle in a haystack in the shortest time possible, from figuring out crimes to tracking how diseases spread – predicting the future by analyzing what happened or is happening – that stuff gets me really excited!
I think this is one of the biggest challenges for modern-day society. How do we use “Big Brother” to our advantage, promoting individual safety, peace and financial stability?
What are you most proud of?
Unquestionably, my team: Alon and Gitit. We’ve assembled a talented, harmonious and passionate team with just the right amount of ego. We all want what’s best for each other, and have formed together a phenomenal working environment that allows us to think, create, and implement.
When you’re not at work…?
I love to paint, swim and run. I try not to do them all at once, though. And definitely, I like to take on some new challenges....lately it's been kiteboarding.