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Designers / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Julia Le, Lead Experience Designer at Our Very Own

Julia Le is the Lead Experience Designer at Our Very Own, a Melbourne-based UX and technology agency.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I have always been a creative child who enjoyed drawing, painting and solving problems. I graduated at UTS with a B of Design in Visual Communication.

I got my first break as a UX/UI designer for a start-up HR tech company. From there, I knew I wanted to focus on the UX space to create more products and services that address people’s needs and pain points. 

I believe that design is the intersection where logic and art coincide with human motivations.  I fell in love with the endless opportunities within the digital space.

I escalated my design career by working at a digital agency. It was there that I was given opportunities to work on various websites and applications for both small and large businesses across multiple platforms. Throughout my design career I aim to make positive contributions to all products, and services I am fortunate to work on. 

I worked in house on the award-winning GEM (Global Experience Macquarie) Design System, along with other strategic digital projects. I recently started a new role as a Lead Experience Designer in UX Design and Development Consultancy based in Melbourne.

I’m excited about being able to build out an environment where young designers can be nurtured. I have also been spending time outside of work mentoring young designers around the globe through Adplist, it’s been such a rewarding experience. 

I am always open to new opportunities and looking at learning more, making an impact and being very purpose-driven. I want to continue to collaborate with like-minded individuals to design meaningful experience-led solutions.

2) What does a day in life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

I start my morning early with yoga and meditation. Some days I will go outside and read as I find it is a nice way to wake up. I love a cold shower in the morning and have found it is a good way to set the intentions for the day.  I enjoy a glass of lemon or warm water before checking my emails. Other days I just hit the snooze button and roll back into bed. 

Currently, I use Monday.com for anything work-related and Asana to project manage my life admin. I prioritise what I need to focus on for the day the night before. I lay out my ‘work uniform’ – these days it’s a lot more on the comfortable side. I browse creative design projects featured on Muzli before diving into my work. 

Daily stand-ups with the leadership team at 9:20 and the project team at 9:45 to discuss any challenges and priorities. No two days are the same, often I am collaborating with the tech or user experience team. Together, we brainstorm ideas and test solutions in order to deliver the best solutions for our customers. 

I try to avoid meetings, where there is not a clear agenda. If there are no clear goals (or snacks) please don’t invite me.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

My team has always been provided with the flexibility that allowed us to work remotely even prior to the pandemic. I believe working remotely cultivates a much more productive environment with fewer distractions.

I do enjoy workplace water cooler conversations and real face to face interactions. I enjoy working remotely and I believe that companies should continue to encourage ways of working to suit the individual. It’s nice to not miss a parcel, prep your lunch or pop out to run some errands. I am very much looking forward to heading back into the office that’s for sure. 

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

To me, life-work balance means knowing what’s important and being able to prioritise those things during the day.

Self-love and self-maintenance are so underrated. If we focus on being the best, most authentic version of ourselves the rest just follows. I keep a pulse on the things that matter to me. I think I’ve done a good job creating boundaries for my professional and personal space. 

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

I am currently doing the ‘90 days to change your ways’ challenge. I have found more time to work on self-maintenance and self-care. This includes a proper skincare routine, gardening, exercising, reading, learning a new skill – basically anything that is good for the soul. 

During the past 12 months, I’ve really valued spiritual practice and the importance of finding your own inner peace.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

Where do I begin? There are so many resources available to us these days. I’ve always enjoyed reading autobiographies – it’s a nice insight into how different people deal with different real-life situations.

Heart Talk: Poetic Wisdom for a Better Life by Cleo Wade is a book I keep in arm’s reach. Victor Rolf’s Man’s Search for Meaning, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho have always been a favourite of mine.  

The Design Better Podcast and just recently, the social media platform Clubhouse has been an interesting way to engage, learn, teach and connect with people across the globe. 

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

  • Calm app for meditating
  • Spotify for podcasts and music
  • Painting and drawing materials for creativity
  • Asana and Google Sheets for organising 

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?  

I think we are all constantly trying to do our best and we’re all really just making it up as we go. I think reading an interview about how mothers or fathers who have to juggle everyone’s else’s agenda would be an interesting read. At the moment, I am curious to know how Melanie Perkins does it.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Eat well, move well, sleep well.  Commit to unlearning and relearning. Surround yourself with good people, respect them, listen to them, learn from them. Spend time getting to know yourself better and play to your strengths. Only you know who you are, and how you can show up. 

Life can be beautiful, it can be messy and complicated. Normalise chasing your dreams, falling in love, finding purpose and taking risks at any stage in your life. Treat yourself with kindness and love yourself. Remember through every dark night there’s a brighter day.

I’m starting a podcast that will be published at the end of the year which I’m so excited about sharing with the world, visit empatheiia.com and stay tuned, friends.

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About Author

Balance The Grind gives me a platform to talk to these people about how they're achieving their ideal lifestyle. I'm inspired by the passion, the work ethic, the hustle; and these conversations motivate me to live life the way I want to live it.