A year at work, 2024 edition

In a fortnight, I’ll be celebrating one year of employment at Gerimedica, the healthcare technology provider I was keen to join last spring. Coincidentally, I’m working on one of my professional development goals right now: turn coworker feedback into concrete goals for the second quarter. It seems a fitting moment to reflect on the past year as a whole.

As expected, healthtech is the bomb diggity

I’ve never made a secret of this: Gerimedica had me at hello. Even when I joined educational technology startup Leeruniek in 2020, I knew my next stop would be healthcare technology. My expectations were grand, and I have yet to be disappointed.

Healthcare technology is a space of rules and regulations, intricate interfaces, dozens and dozens of personas, and policy, policy, policy. As a UX practitioner, I love getting my hands dirty with dense subject matter. Luckily, at Gerimedica I can dive in as deeply as I wish to.

I’ve long had a passion for technology that helps busy people spend less time with software, and the work I get to do at Gerimedica feels impactful more than anything I’ve ever done. There’s something deeply gratifying about seeing the effects that smart, holistic design has on people who really don’t have the time to talk to you.

Autonomy is golden

I suppose the beauty of experience is that it’s easier to form trustworthy opinions, and at Gerimedica it’s paying off. I feel people take me seriously, respect my expertise, and actively engage my skills in a wide variety of projects.

Because I’m the sole designer at the company, staying connected to the design community is crucial for me. I reserve a few moments each week to mentor designers through ADPList, even bringing someone in for a one-day internship. My manager encourages this tirelessly.

Tough challenges, learner’s mindsets

I like a good puzzle, and luckily, I get to spend every day at work finding ways to solve them. There are puzzles that are more design-technical in nature, puzzles around interaction design, and many puzzles on the front of social dynamics and UX maturity.

What makes Gerimedica such a good employer for my particular kind of person, is that our leaders rally behind the same purpose, both in terms of product vision and company culture. They make tools available that help us all behave congruently with these things.

What is agile?

I’m going on 20 years in IT, which, pfffff. The longer I’m here, the easier it is to see that agile and Scrum, like the American Constitution, are matters of aspiration. That’s not a dig at my employer, just a general observation.

I collaborate with two distinct groups of engineers: the Scrum teams, and the R&D team. The choreographies through which we turn ideas into solutions are, naturally, vastly distinct from one another. The Head of R&D was already a decade into an engineering career before the Agile Manifesto was ever even written.

I pause and think about that often.

He’s the only person at our company who lived in a waterfall kind of world. I’ve never met a leaner engineer in my life. Collaborating with him, the R&D team, and our various Scrum teams is helping me look more clearly at all the times in my career when the statement “we’re agile” became a whole new type of waterfall in itself.

The value of feedback

As a UX team-of-one, Iā€™m fairly free in the way I lay out my own growth path at the company. These past few months, I asked a dozen people for feedback on my productivity, demeanor, and position at the company. Here are some highlights from the valuable feedback I received.

“A deep listener, a critical thinker, a bridge between teams, a champion of user-centered design. Positive, fun, transparent, fast, honest, enthusiastic.”

My central takeaway from the feedback is that the type of person I am helps me meet people where they are. This is perhaps the most important reality of my career. Where I may sometimes wonder whether I know anything at all, it seems I’m flying solo in that delusion.

“You should take up more space: give me your insights and expertise, take a firm stance.”

Unlike any other onboarding I’ve done, I started my time at Gerimedica by keeping my mouth shut. Designers are like plumbers, often tearing down the work of the one who came before them. I consider it a sign of maturity when someone can come in and not satisfy that urge. It’s clear to me that my coworkers are ready for a little more pushback. Don’t mind if I do!

Looking ahead

2024 and beyond has wonderful things in store for the company, and I’m happy to be along for the ride. I’m looking forward to continuously shape effective collaboration across teams. I hit that sweet spot of a perfect design hand-off every now and then, though mostly I find that, like happiness, it’s not a permanent state, but in constant flux.

I’m taking full advantage of any free moment to better understand the domain in which I find myself. Getting to know healthcare professionals and what they need in their day-to-day work is an absolutely pleasure. Here’s to another year of learning, falling, getting up, and telling people a little more often that their solution is not a UX best practice.

Thank you for reading! I'm curious to hear your thoughts, so feel free to say hello.