Member Spotlight on... Ashlea McKay


ASHM is one of our newer members, but she is certainly no shrinking violet. Currently painting our forums in a wash of pretty pink with her avatar, Ashlea has a way with words and a great attitude towards life.

I asked her a few questions and this is what she had to say:

[B]What first sparked your interest in UX?[/B]
It happened in second year university. I have a Bachelor of Industrial Design and halfway through the course we had a class called User Centred Design and in that class we had a really cool project. We had to in small groups; find a design that irks people, user test it as is, re-design it and then test it with a new group of users. My group chose this ridiculous folding cardboard archive box that none of us could figure out how to fold. It was so much fun and facilitating the user testing was my favourite part. People never cease to surprise me with the things they do and the way they think and you never know what you’re going to get. That’s exciting!

[B]Who is your UX hero and why?[/B]
David Kelley is my UX hero. The IDEO shopping cart video blew my mind. It completely changed the way I looked at things and had me staring at the ceiling wondering if I could hang my bike up there. I never get tired of watching that video; his approach to design and working in design teams is very inspiring. It’s old but it’s so relevant it could have been made yesterday. You can watch it here:

[B]When have you been the most satisfied in your life?[/B]
When I finished university I had a big win that made me feel quite accomplished. My degree was three years long and for the first two and half years I was notoriously bad at using Pro Engineer Wildfire 5 (CAD software). I was so bad at it that 51% was a good grade for me and in third year I almost failed a core subject because of it. Things really turned around for me in my final semester. I had a wonderful teacher who was so patient with me and would sit with me and teach the class from my computer. It worked, something just clicked. At the end of the year I walked away with a grade of 95% and a nomination for the Design Institute of Australia’s Graduate of the Year Awards. I was so proud of myself. I knew things had to change but I never thought I was capable of that much of a turn around.

[B]If you weren’t in your current job, what career would you choose?[/B]
I would probably be a hairdresser! I have platinum blonde hair and I dye it myself and I usually have a coloured streak or seven. My hairdresser is a lovely lady named Heather, and when she found out that I do it myself she told me I have a frustrated hairdresser living inside me and that I’ve missed my calling!

[B]What do you hope to be doing in 5 years time?[/B]
Pretty much what I’m doing now, I’d just like to do it at higher level. My job description is an APS4 General Designer which is technically a supporting role rather than a specialist but I have an amazing boss who turns me loose and gives me full autonomy to lead projects and make decisions. She supports me 100% and I’m so lucky to have her as a mentor.

[B]Who would win in a fight to the death between a mouse and a sparrow?[/B]
A mouse. Those sneaky buggers can hide anywhere! Under the couch, in the firewood pile, in the shed… the list goes on. The sparrow would starve to death before it even came close to finding it!

[B]What are your pets called?[/B]
I have a black cat named Wednesday. I named her after Wednesday Addams from the Addams Family (the black and white TV series not the film). She has a very sweet personality and is quite chatty. She likes shoes as much as I do and spends her days sleeping in the sun and eating my flowers.

[B]Do you have a site, a blog, a twitter feed or anything else that you’d like to promote?[/B]
Yes! I just launched my website and I’m very excited about that:
You will also find me on Twitter @AshleaMcKay and LinkedIn Ashlea McKay


Yay, a great interview Ashlea! I’ve followed IDEO on and off for a while but never actually seen that video. Thanks for sharing, it’s great! :slight_smile: