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Kathryn Sadler: Conversation Designer

Kathryn Sadler joins us to discuss her winding career path through linguistics, UX design, and conversation design. After studying languages at university, Kathryn worked in business consultancy and tech startups in Australia. She then transitioned into voice user interface design and UX before returning to her passion for conversation design. Kathryn gives us the inside scoop on her day-to-day work crafting conversational experiences. She also shares how her background in languages informs her approach to crafting natural dialogues. Tune in to hear Kathryn’s insightful perspective on conversation design and her advice for aspiring designers.

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Please note: this transcript has been auto-generated and may contain some errors

Thank you for joining us for another episode of Digitally Diverse, where we do a deep dive into the careers of some of Australia’s best designers. Today we have the privilege of having Kathryn Sadler join us, who is a senior conversation designer. Thank you so much for joining us, Catherine.

You’re welcome. I love to start off our episodes by just getting a really broad overview of where you’ve come from, your career today. Just a bit of an overview for listeners who may not know who you are.

No problem. So, yeah, I’m a senior conversation designer. I’ve been working in conversational AI on and off for 15 to 20 years.

So I started out, I did languages linguistics at uni, worked for a business consultancy in the UK doing project coordination, and they had projects in Russia and I’d studied Russian at uni, so I was able to use my Russian a little bit. Came to Australia as a backpacker, didn’t really know what I was doing, and just by chance got a role with a company called Appen, who were, at the time, they were tiny, they were like 1520 people. And now they’re one of the main australian tech stocks.

They’re a company that collects AI training data and from there stayed in tech, worked as a VUI designer. What’s a voice user interface designer on IVR systems? So the phone systems, whether you call Telstra or Vodafone or banks. And then I took a bit of a break, had a bit of a career change, went into UX design for a few years and then I actually came back round into conversation design, as it’s now known.

Working with Nova FN radio network, they had a couple of smart speaker apps, so they wanted somebody with some UX design experience and some voice experience. So that’s how I kind of came back round and then I’ve had a couple of roles since then. So it’s as if I’ve followed a deliberate path now because it’s all kind of come full circle, but I very much haven’t.

I’ve just kind of gone, oh, that looks interesting, I’ll do that, I’ll do that. I think, yeah, a lot of people who work in tech just find themselves suddenly in something that probably didn’t exist when they were at uni. So that sounds like that’s your story, I guess.

What are you up to at the moment? Are you just freelancing or what are you working on? So I’m looking for a new role at the moment. My last role was a contract with Salesforce at the beginning of the end of last year, beginning of this year, before that I was with a ten person startup. So it was a bit of a jump from ten people to 80,000 or however many they had before they started all of their layoffs this year.

So yeah, at the moment I’m looking for a new role in conversation, like, oh, generative AI or prompt engineering or conversation design. There’s a few sort of interesting opportunities out there, so I’m just sort of choosing carefully where I’d like to be. Definitely.

And I know for me anyway, I recruit in the UX space and the design space. And even in Australia we’ve got a pretty robust design industry. But the conversation design is a pretty niche part of that industry.

Can you tell us a little bit about what that entails day to day for people who are unaware? So yeah, it’s incredibly niche, which I find interesting. Even globally it’s quite niche. Like, a lot of people are seeing conversation design as the big new shiny thing.

A bit like UX design was ten years ago and going, oh, I want to do that, but there’s roles, but there’s not that many roles out there. I feel like it’s a combination of language. It’s good if you’re good with languages, whether you’ve come from a languages or linguistics background like I have, or copywriting or content design, you’re also using that experience design.

So my UX design background, but also you need to be pretty, I feel like you need to be more comfortable with tech hands on than general UX UI design roles because you can be doing a bit of everything depending on the company you’re at. So at Salesforce it was almost more conversation design advocacy and looking at best practices and sort of assisting various areas of salesforce that had their own chat bots because it was quite fragmented. My previous company, Talkfire was a startup, so many hats just jumped in everywhere.

I was head of conversation design. I was probably the only person that was end to end across all of our projects. So I was project management.

I was overseeing the QA, coordinating the tech resources, doing all of the conversation design, which involves looking at the logic for whatever you’re working on, whether it’s a smart speaker, an Alexa application, or whether it’s an IVR or a chat bot. So you’ve got to sort of work out the logic, map out the flows, think about the copy. You’ve got to be quite careful about how you phrase things so that people, especially with voice, so that people come back with a response the way you’re expecting them.

To, well, actually saying that this was in the days before generative AI, where it’s all a lot smarter now. We don’t have to be quite so precise about how we do things, but lots of hats, bit of research. Yeah, bit of everything.

It’s interesting to me, looking from the outside, it seems like a lot of the projects that you’ve been working on have been pretty like cutting edge. The first of their kind, like pretty greenfield projects. What’s that been like? Just constantly been working on things that haven’t really been done before.

It’s scary, but it’s fun. When I came back into conversation design, it was really like at Nova, it was more. We were like a little R D team in a radio station, which is kind of unusual, working on their smart speaker apps and looking at ways that we could, because advertising is such a big thing at radio networks, we were looking at ways that we could sort of sort of incorporate.

We did like a fun interactive advert on Google smart speakers so that people could enter a red room competition for Nova via their smart speaker. So that was kind of fun. It was more sort of playing with what could we do that’s new? And at talkvire I was working on projects for the lot, make a wish, Australia, Southern Cross, Austereo as well, which was sort of triple M cricket.

And that was again, more sort of companies were just sort of trying to think of new ways to interact with their audience and sort of be seen as sort of leaders in the field, sort of trying something new. Yeah. Not only do you have to have the technical know how, but it sounds like there’s a lot of creativity and a lot of just thinking on your feet and pushing the boundaries for a lot of the projects that you’re working on.

Yeah, it can be quite interesting. But more so, I do think that you take what the customer is sort of thinking of and you’ve got to sort of go along with, okay, well, we can’t actually do this. You need to guide them.

I mean, like with anything, you’ve got to guide them as to. There’s a lot more constraints, certainly with voice tech, but also with bots in general. So that’s something that customers might not have thought about.

Yeah. So there’s sort of a lot of guiding the creativity side of it, but also just understanding the logic and how it’s going to work so that you can work with the developers really closely and make sure that you’re not designing something that they. Then you can’t just design something and then punt it to them and they go, hang on a minute.

Yeah. How does this happen? Yeah, you mentioned before that you’ve got a linguistics background. Can you tell us a little bit more about your tertiary education and what that entailed? So, yeah, like I say, it seems like I followed a deliberate path, but I have no idea.

Like, at school I was like, at a level in the UK you do sort of three, four, five subjects. Back when I did, it was three rather than HSE, which is quite broad. So I did maths and languages because I really didn’t know which direction I wanted to go.

I ended up doing monolanguage studies at university, which was specifically french, german and russian. And then within that I had linguistics modules, but they were specific to the language. So I did a lot of phonetics, but that was relevant to German.

I did some french sociolinguistics, which it was really interesting. But you have to be a certain personality, I think, to study languages, you’ve got to be quite confident to get out there and just not worry about getting things wrong and just to become fluent. And at 21, 22, I wasn’t that person, so I probably should have.

I looked at maths and linguistics courses, actually at uni and looking back now, because right now it would be super useful with generative AI and large language models. So now I’m kind of like, wish I had backed myself and followed that, but I was a bit too scared of doing a maths degree. It seemed a bit too sort of intimidating and I guess a traditional maths course or a bachelor degree back in those days.

I mean, forgive me if I’m wrong, but it kind of would be a little bit limiting. Like, if you wanted to work in tech, you would go more into the computer science or the it route where just pure maths would be like, okay, I’m just limited to maths, where at least with languages you can apply it to different things. I think if I was in your shoes, I would have picked the same thing, to be honest.

Yeah, look, I don’t have regrets because the languages got me my first role, which was working with Russian, and my experience in that job got me my role with Appen, which was my first role in conversational AI. And it’s all led to the next opportunity. Exactly.

And, yeah, like I say now, maths and linguistics would be super relevant, but I’m not quite sure what I would have done for the last 20 years. Exactly. Sort of waiting for that sort of moment to come.

I guess it would have been quite specific. Well, I guess. Was there a particular catalyst when you were at appen that you were like, oh, holy moly, like light bulb moment.

This is what I want to be getting into. Was there a eureka moment for you getting into tech? Look, it was accidental that the role at Appen was purely accidental. I just saw the ad and I was talking to another company at the time, and Appen were working with all these languages and they were asking me about my phonetics sort of studies, and I was like, wow, this is really obscure and quite interesting.

And in all honesty, when I first started there, I had no idea what they did. I was just sort of trying to learn as I went. And it was quite technical.

We used to work on dual boot windows machines, so sometimes we would have to just reboot into Linux and do stuff in Linux. And all of this was completely new to me because I had done nothing on computers up until that point, but I loved it. It was a steep learning curve.

But just being able to sort of do all this really interesting tech work, sort of the department I managed, I was managing projects, which was their phonetic dictionaries. So what Appam would do is they would go out to a country like Korea, do a data collection, sort of collect participants that met certain demographics, record them reading scripts that were what they called phonetically rich, so they could collect all the different sounds of the language, bring the audio back to Australia. Native speakers would transcribe that audio, and then my team would take those word lists and put all the phonetics in to tell computers how.

So that’s how it all sort of gets put together. Yeah. Wow.

Which was just. Yeah, it was so interesting. And I got to work with actually pretty rarely it was the languages that I actually studied.

I worked on Japanese, we worked on arabic languages, Korean. Yeah, it was so diverse. It was really interesting.

I really enjoyed the work I did there, I have to say. Yeah, talk about being chucked into the deep end like that is just a baptism of fire. Yeah, it was.

But I was young and fresh and keen. Well, yeah, I think that’s the common denominator with a lot of people who just land themselves in tech. Is that kind of like the advice that you would give to perhaps some students who are wanting to get into the tech realm or perhaps people who are wanting to get in there from another industry? Yeah, I guess I would say just find out as much as you can, like on social media.

I mean, I mainly use LinkedIn, follow people, read articles, sign up for newsletters, watch webinars, join webinars if you can. If they’re live. Sometimes various conferences that are on, often they look very expensive.

Sometimes you can get free tickets somehow. Sometimes you can just hit people up and say, do you have any concession rates like I’ve done at the moment when I’ve been out of work? Yeah. So just find out as much as you can.

TAFE actually has a new, I think it’s relatively new, the Institute of Applied Technology. They have a lot of online courses at the moment in AI and they’re actually really interesting. They’re sort of short three or four hour courses and I think they give you a really good overview.

So if it’s something that you’re considering investing in sort of more time or money in sort of actually paying for a formal course, I think it’s good to get a little taster first and really decide whether that’s sort of what you want to do. I blindly just sort of went from one thing to the next. I didn’t really take the time to do that, I guess.

So I’m giving advice that I should probably have followed, but it was also different back when I was getting into tech. That’s great advice coming from hindsight is usually pretty spot on. And yeah, I agree some people, you invest sometimes years in going to university or doing a course and investing all this money and time, and then you get into so many friends, actually have gotten to the end of their degree and be like, oh, I actually don’t think I want to do this.

Especially when you’re so young as well. It’s really easy to get all swept up in like, I need to go to university, I need to do this. And you just don’t know what you’re actually going to like and what the industry is going to be like when you graduate and when you actually get out there.

Yeah, absolutely. It’s hard because sort of 18 to 20, you’re trying to work out what you want to do. You’re following the advice of teachers and parents probably.

Possibly mainly, which I did, and I kind of wish I hadn’t. I kind of wish I’d backed myself more. And, yeah, you can very much feel pushed down a certain direction, whereas you’ve got to try and step back and be objective.

It’s really hard to do, but I always say I’m still trying to work out what I want to do when I grow up. I’m still sort of just going, oh, well, this is interesting for now, but what’s next? I do admire people that are like, as a teenager are like, I want to do marine biology, and they just follow that and stick with it. I do admire that, but I also admire people that finish a degree and go, yeah, no, that’s not for me.

I think I want to be a plumber instead or something. The world’s always going to need plumbers. No, I totally get that.

There’s nothing wrong in realizing that as well. I feel like there’s lots of people who are like, oh, well, I have invested all this time into university or this course or doing all of this training. Well, I’ve got to do it now.

And like, no, you actually don’t. You can pivot and you can use those learnings in another sense and they might come in handy 10, 15, 20 years later. So, yeah, I totally get that.

It sounds to me like you really lack a challenge when it comes to your next. You’re always wanting to find something interesting. Is that kind of like what lights you up and inspires you to do the work you do? Yeah, I guess.

Like I say, it is scary. And I used to think I hated change, but actually I’ve seen a lot of change in the last ten years, the different roles I’ve done. I think mainly it’s exciting working on stuff that’s pretty cutting edge and working in tech generally, like everyone else, it feels, is really smart.

Everyone else just seems much smarter than you. So as much as it can be intimidating, it’s amazing some of the people you get to work with. So I think it’s the people I work with that probably I find the most inspiring rather than almost more than the work I’m actually doing.

Yeah. And I think with the fact that you’re in the AI space, what’s your opinion of how that’s changed over the last ten years or so? Has there been some really big takeaways? It’s not even so much in the ten years, it’s the last six months. Nothing was really well, the last six months generally for the public, with chat GBT launching at the end of last year, I mean, we sort of knew all these things were happening.

But even conversation design as a role, because I’m not currently working in that role, I don’t have the ability to see the hands on changes, but I can see from hearing about my old team at Salesforce and how they’ve had to completely pivot from how they approached conversation design before, whereas now they’re pretty much doing prompt design. So, yeah, just in the last six, maybe twelve months or more, it’s hugely changing. I mean, my first speech, sort of voice tech project was a long time ago for Optus.

It was one of their IVRs, and I had to do all the system testing on that and it worked. It was flaky. You had to be quite specific what you said, and you had to make sure nobody was coughing in the background or you weren’t out on the street on a mobile, but it did work.

So in some ways, up until recently, I didn’t feel like it was that different, other than obviously smart speakers and voice assistants, but, yeah, generative AI and large language models now really having a huge impact. That’s huge. I’m sort of still observing what everyone else is doing and learning how it’s going to change things.

So it sounds like you’ve had quite a windy journey so far, Catherine. So I’m curious if there’s any speed bumps or challenges that you’ve faced in your career and how that’s kind of shaped where you’re at. Yeah, definitely.

There have been. So the first probably ten to 15 years of my career were pretty smooth. I kind of stuck with one company for a long time.

I was with appen for three or four years, and then I went to dimension data and I was at DD for, I think, nine years. In the end, it was a long time, and I actually sort of suddenly realized, hang on a minute. I felt like I had no control over the sort of role I was doing.

So I found out, I started looking. It was funny, actually. So I was a voice user interface designer, business analyst at DD, but they tended to throw any work at my team that wasn’t specifically development work, engineering work, so I could be doing whatever they sold, writing a technical document or system testing or whatever.

And I kept seeing these ads for UX designers, and it looked a lot like VUI design. There was a lot of overlap, but I didn’t really know what a wireframe. So I just by chance, I applied for one of these roles and managed to get an interview.

And they kind of realized that I wasn’t the UI designer, but they actually mentioned to me about general Assembly. A UX design course and general assembly were just doing their first immersive user experience design course the following year. Sort of like the next month, the beginning of 2014, I think it was.

You’re an OG. This was a big deal for me after being in this company for so long, but I took three months unpaid leave, spoke to my managers, took this time off, did this course, trying to pivot. Initially, DD were trying to sort of shift my role, but I ended up getting a role as UX designer with Fairfax and then spent the next four or five years in UX design.

But sort of through that time and since I’ve come back into conversation design, I’ve actually had my roles been made redundant twice. I just missed a third redundancy last year. So that’s sort of thrown a few curveballs.

So I’ve shifted roles a lot more often than I really would like. Like nine years in one company, that’s too long. Yeah, that’s a good amount of time.

But I’ve jumped around since I’ve left, sort of in the last ten years, I’ve jumped around a lot more than I would have liked, ideally, but saying that it’s been a great exposure to many different companies and company structures and how they work and being in so many different people, different industries, real estate, travel, SaaS companies, UX design and conversation design and just different team structures and different design teams, it’s a great experience. Obviously, always looking back, you kind of realize that it wasn’t a bad thing. But yeah, the first time my role was made redundant that hit me pretty hard because I’d been struggling to find a good role, a good fit, and then that happened and it really threw me for a little while.

It really sort of smashed my mental health a little bit, to be honest. So this time around looking for work, I’m being quite careful with. I’m always quite open about mental health and sort of, I don’t think it should be like a taboo topic.

So I think it’s something we all need to think about. Definitely it’s been an interesting, turbulent few years, but it’s also sort of helps you grow and helps you realize what you’re looking for too. Like, it’s made me realize what I do and don’t want from a role.

Yeah, I think that a lot of people are also in that situation at the moment or over the last twelve months, redundancies and layoffs have been happening. And the more that I speak with people who, as it’s happening, it’s awful, it’s gut wrenching. You feel the rejection and you feel like it’s such a hit to your confidence.

Like, oh, my skills are redundant. Like, what the heck? But it’s interesting to hear from people. A month, after three months, after six months, after twelve months after, it feels like there’s lots of people who are like, oh, actually, no, I can press pause and I can actually figure out what I want.

Rather than like, okay, I’m just in my job and I’m doing my thing and life is normal. It forces people to actually look at their situation and where they want to be and they all of a sudden have control of the direction again, which is really nice to. It’s a nice way of looking at it that.

Yeah, it sucks in the moment, but it’s a good opportunity to take stock. Yeah. And I’m lucky.

I have a lot of support for my husband, so there’s no pressure to jump to the next role. Like, I’m careful, which I have done in the past, which has partly contributed to the changing roles because I jumped to a couple of roles that probably, in my gut, I knew weren’t right and definitely weren’t, which means you’re then looking for it like you’ve just started a role and then you’re looking for another role again. So, yeah, this time around I’m a lot more cautious sort of looking.

What are really the key things? What are the key values for me? What do I want in a role that I just don’t want to sort of give up and also sort of job hunting generally. Yeah, it can be quite demoralizing, but I read somewhere once, I’ve got it on a post it on my monitor, actually, your value doesn’t decrease just because someone fails to see it or just because they’re looking for something else because you can feel the rejection can be quite sort of tough, but you just weren’t the right fit or whatever. There’s always going to be other opportunities out there.

Definitely. And it’s all about timing as well. That’s got such a huge factor to it.

Yeah. When you were going through those few redundancies or even just like now, job hunting is really tough. Is there anything that you do on the regular to help your productivity or your motivation? Anything you do for self care? The main thing for me is exercise because then I feel like I have a sense of satisfaction that I’ve achieved one thing that day and I try to get it done in the morning.

The later I leave it, the harder it is to motivate myself to get out. So I’m pretty lucky. I’ve got some running buddies that motivate me to get out and run because I’m not a natural runner.

I run because it’s kind of good for you and keeps me fit. But getting out on my own for a run, it can be pretty sort of hard to do. So I’ve got some running buddies I meet sort of early a couple of times a week.

I do a bit of strength training as well and I’m pretty good with a routine, sort of. I’m pretty disciplined at sticking to that. And I really find that helps getting outside generally.

Sometimes during the day, I’m like, I’ve got to get outside for a walk. And this sounds a bit silly at the moment because I’m not, but I try to meditate regularly. I’m out of the habit at the moment, but I did really well sort of earlier this year.

I was being really good with it. And again, it’s just sort of that they say it takes six weeks or something to create a habit. And with the meditation, that’s something I’ve got to get back to.

And I know, I think I was expecting sort of massive changes when I first started to meditate, but it’s more just. It gradually just quietens things down a bit in your head and it’s easier to step back and step away from the noise. Yeah.

I think when I first started years ago, dabbling and trying to work out what this meditation was and how you do it, there’s a lot of expectation on yourself, but if you’re sitting and your mind’s going crazy, well, that’s just the way it is some days. Yeah, sometimes there is no off switch. But, yeah, you’re right, it definitely helps turn down the volume.

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So headspace is the app that I use and I almost feel like that, I forget his name.

Andy Pudicum, the british headspace guy, the founder of, like, when I hear his voice, I’m so used to it now, his voice just calms me down. It feels like an old friend. Sounds a bit cheesy, but the Pavlov effect, or whatever it’s called, just like the association.

Yeah, absolutely. Is there anything else that takes up your spare time on your off hours, apart from, like. Yeah, exercise? I mean, I’ve got my sort of routine of my sort of general early morning runs on the weekends sometimes.

I used to do a lot more trail running, so I used to like to get out for longer trail runs. And that’s always nice, just getting out in the bush. And I normally do a lot of ocean swimming.

I’m also out of the habit of that at the moment, but I go down to manly on the northern beaches and we’ve got to swim down there sort of across a marine reserve. But, yeah, another thing I’ve got to get back into. But apart from that, I’ve got two cats, so hanging out at home with my cats, drinking craft beers, big into the craft beer scene, dragging my husband off to various breweries.

Well, I’m sure he enjoys that. There’s worse places, right? It’s not like I’m dragging him off to some wedding stores or like, yeah, I think last time I was in Newcastle, it was for a beer festival. Oh, fantastic.

I know we do have a pretty good craft beer scene up here. I’m hoping that more is going to. That it will rival our winery scene in the Hunter Valley.

I don’t know if that’s a little bit too optimistic, but a girl can dream. It’s growing all the time. Like, it’s huge.

It’s huge in Sydney now compared to 510 years ago. Even up. I was in Brisbane recently and up there, it’s so good.

They just know how to streamline it and just like simple, good beer. I feel like sometimes it’s very easy for breweries to be a little bit pretentious, but there’s just like classic, solid, really good stuff that they’re putting out up there. So shout out to Brisbane.

There are some great breweries up in Brisbane. Yes, I’ve got a mate up there I’ve got to visit soon. So, yeah, there are some great spots.

Is there any podcasts that you like to listen to or any kind of content like books or YouTube creators? Anyone like that that you like to listen to podcast wise? I did get into listening to podcasts a lot more when I used to commute, especially when I was commuting to Nova, because I was sort of on the bus and the ferry. To be honest, since I’ve been working remotely, I don’t tend to do the podcast so much, partly because if I get out for a walk, I’m trying to switch off. But Vux World, which is voice user experience and the Voicebot podcast, and there’s another one, I think, called inside voice.

They were some of the ones. But now I tend to just see what’s popping up on LinkedIn, and I often have a list of, oh, I’d need to watch that at some point, and different webinars, or I find it better to jump onto a webinar live, like when it’s happening, because if I think, oh, I’ll watch the recording later, you just never get round to finding that hour. Whereas if something’s actually happening at a time, it’s just hard because a lot of the sort of webinars and things that are happening, they’re often us or Europe time, so it can be a bit tricky over here.

But apart from that, newsletters, Vux World again, voicebot, there’s a few AI newsletters I’ve started following. The neuron, I think is one of them. He’s really good.

The guy from the neuron is actually going to be at south by southwest Sydney next week, I think, on one of the sessions. Exciting. Yes.

Are you coming down for I wish. I was so excited when they announced last year that they were going to be going to Sydney and I was like, oh, I need to go to it next year because I missed out and then now I completely forgot again. So next year? Next year.

There’s the plan. It’s pretty expensive, so I found a workaround. I’m going to work a couple of days there, so I’m volunteering on, I think a couple of the days they sent the shifts out and I kind of looked at the shift they’d given and looked at the schedule and went, okay, going to rearrange my shifts a little bit so that I can go to some of the sessions I want to go to.

So there’s a lot happening. It’s hard to look at the schedule and work out where to start. That’s actually a really good idea for people who are wanting to get involved but can’t justify the price of a ticket.

Get involved and get volunteering. Yeah, I might have to think about that for next year. Yeah, I’m quite excited actually.

I think it’ll be fun. And some of the roles they’ve got, I think I’m doing speaker liaison and green room assistants, so they should be quite fun. Sort of hobnobby kind of roles.

That’s the hope anyway. Yeah. For mean, is there any particular throughout your career, have you had any mentors or perhaps some business leaders that you’ve worked with or anyone that you’re excited to see at south by Southwest? Yeah.

In terms of people that have inspired me, I guess through my career, it’s often more the people I’ve worked with more so than some random person I don’t know, that founded a company that’s on LinkedIn. I mean, the obvious one is my most recent manager at Salesforce, Greg Bennett. So he’s pretty inspirational.

He’s just a super nice guy, but he’s really switched on. He’s really good at adapting and sort of shifting to different situations. He founded the conversation design practice at Salesforce and now they’ve completely pivoted this year and he’s driving the prompt engineering and prompt design for Einstein GPT at Salesforce, which is massive.

Hilary Sinus and Faye Afsha are a couple of really strong female design leaders. I’ve had the pleasure of working with and I’m an ambassador for an organization called Women in Voice. We’ve got an Australia and New Zealand chapter.

So my fellow ambassadors that run that chapter, they’re all super inspirational. We’ve got a great camaraderie. They’re great.

It’s funny, I make a lot of my friends from workplaces over the years. Like a lot of my close friends have been at different of. I’ve known some people that keep their social life and their work life quite separate, sort of, if you know what I mean.

But I’ve always sort of wanted to bond quite closely with people I’m working with. Because you’re spending so much time with them. Yeah, I think as well, especially when you’re working in high pressure work environments and you’re really relying on a lot of people, or a lot of people are wearing lots of different hats, it makes sense that you would want to actually get to know them as a person when you’re potentially spending a third of your life with your coworkers.

So yeah, that’s great that you were able to connect with them in that way. And tell me more about women in voice. I’d love to hear a little bit more about that.

So women in voice, when was it founded? The global organization, I think was founded about five years ago, actually, I think by Joan Palmer Bajorak in the US. And then what they decided to do, I actually don’t know how they decided to do it, but basically chapters started springing up around the world and I loosely knew about the organization. And then I heard that Jenny Stenhaus in New Zealand, who worked with the global organization, she was looking to found a Australia and New Zealand chapter.

So I sort of put my hand up and was like, I’m keen to get involved and it’s mainly about just fostering a network of women working in voice. Tech, conversational AI. We try to host events.

We haven’t been so great at that this year, but we try to host webinars and things throughout to. I was on an overseas trip recently, visiting family in the UK, and I was able to connect with a couple of. Couple of people I’ve met through women in voice in Germany and Spain.

Nice. It’s just this great global network of women. I’d love to be able to share the details and maybe we can pop them in the show notes if anyone is interested in finding a little bit more about that.

But yeah, sounds super cool. And it’s always great to just keep that mentorship and that network growing and being able to pass on little tidbits of knowledge. But yeah, so women in voice have a global mentoring program.

So I’ve mentored other women in the US and Germany and Israel. And then we’ve also actually in Australia, we were put in touch with a professor at Monash uni who were running a program with Monash Tech school to encourage young girls sort of years nine and ten. So apparently after about year ten, that’s where girls tend to be put off careers in STEM.

So they were trying to run these programs to encourage girls and show them how interesting it was. So they had a program called Superbots, which is still running, which we’ve been involved with. We sort of give them some guidance and mentoring.

We jump online and do a little bit of mentoring with the girls. It’s in person at Monash Tech school in Melbourne. But then we do little Zoom sessions with each of the teams and they talk us, they build their own voice bots, so we talk them through stuff.

Yeah. And the response to that has been great. That’s so cool.

That’s been pretty fun to get involved with. No, that’s awesome. I feel like that representation really does matter.

So, yeah, kudos to you for getting involved. And on that note, I like to end the podcast with one of my favorite questions, which is if you were to give yourself, your younger self rather some career advice, what would that look like? What would that be? Yeah, that’s a really tough one, as I’ve mentioned a couple of times, is probably back yourself. I mean, I know everybody struggles.

I feel like I really struggle with impostor syndrome, but realistically, everyone has impostor syndrome to some extent. And I think even not doing a maths degree was possibly because I was being sort of swayed by teachers and parents. So I feel like sometimes you’ve just got to sort of trust yourself, trust your gut, and also just don’t shy away from situations that seem a bit scary sort of in the professional world.

So get out of your comfort zone. Something like this, which I haven’t really done much of before. It’s good to just get out there and sort of challenge yourself and the opportunities that it opens up to you.

Just get out there. Yeah. And honestly, you speak very eloquently.

You can tell that you work in voice. I was like, but yeah, I think that back yourself, that mentality, I think. And especially as women, and women being in Stem, it’s sometimes really hard just to be like, you know what, I’m here.

I’m going to give it my best shot. And the thing that I tend to realize over my career is that people actually really want to help. So it’s fine to ask for help and ask for advice.

So, yeah, sounds like you going out of your comfort zone and joining me today, which I’m super grateful for, is hopefully going to open up some doors. Yeah, well, you never know. And, yeah, network, like, that’s the other advice, don’t be scared to network.

So it can be a bit like, I can’t imagine how people do sales cold calling, but sometimes I reach out to people and, yeah, some people can be a little. They might not get back to you, but then the people you least expect will be super helpful. That makes up for any sort of lack of response you might get from others.

So, yeah, it’s just a amazing. The people you meet and the different sort of different areas that people are working in. Definitely, yeah.

Thank you so much for joining us. I definitely have learnt a lot and. Yeah, thank you so much again, really appreciate your time and your insight.

You’re welcome. Thank you very much.

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