Speaker Spotlight: ‘Making the Most of Mentoring’ with Luke Hay

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Did you know UX Brighton run a mentorship programme for new and experienced UXers?

In January UX Brighton’s mentors and mentees met to reflect on the mentorship programme so far and learn from others to see what they could implement into your mentorship experience. Luke Hay was one of those amazing speakers sharing their advice and insights, and we caught up with him following the event to learn more…

Can you tell us a bit about you and the work that you do?

I’m the senior UX Researcher at Clearleft. I dig deep into the needs of users and customers through user interviews and user testing, gaining empathy and domain insight. I share those insights and context with the wider team in order to empower their design decisions for the benefit of our clients and their customers.

I work with a wide range of different clients and audiences, which keeps my job interesting and keeps me on my toes!

What was the inspiration for your recent talk?

I’ve been involved in helping UX Brighton with their mentorship programme and felt it was time that I shared some of the tips I’ve got after mentoring and managing various people over the years.

The inspiration for me was the fact that I find mentoring really rewarding and as a result I wanted to encourage others to give it a go to.

Any key highlights / takeaways for anyone who missed it?

My talk gave tips for mentors and mentees on how to make the most of mentoring. My main takeaways were…

  • For mentees – find yourself a mentor, or go through a programme like the UX Brighton one to get yourself a mentor. Then make the most of that relationship by thinking about what you want to get from then relationship and setting an objective.
  • For mentors – mentoring is really rewarding, and something I’d recommend even if you’ve only got a couple of years experience. Be aware of your limitations, but you’ll definitely have something to offer to someone who’s looking to get into UX.

Did you come up through a “traditional” techie route or has your career taken twists and turns along the way?

My talk started by covering my career, and it’s definitely had some twists and turns! I started out getting a job at a ‘web company’ before the internet was really much of a thing. Back in 1998 less than 10% of homes had the internet, and the whole industry was a bit like the Wild West!

I’ve ended up where I am now via a couple of redundancies and a liquidation, along with some highlights like speaking at conferences across Europe and writing a book.

It’s been an unconventional journey, and I’m sure there’ll be a few more twists and turns along the way.

Is there a moment that helped define your career?

It’s hard to highlight one individual moment, but the people I’ve worked with over the years have had a massive impact on my career. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some really talented UXers, as well as some genuinely inspirational people in different roles. Several of these people have been quite junior, but their enthusiasm and fresh approaches have rubbed off on me.

What piece of advice would you give your younger self?

Do the things that scare you, they’ll probably turn out ok.

What’s your big tech prediction for 2023?

The obvious answer seems to be flavour of the month; AI. The accessibility of AI technology has increased dramatically and allowed ‘normal people’ to experiment with it for the first time. It’s started a lot of interesting conversations about how, and when, AI can replace people in their jobs. Whether some of the more extreme predictions will come to pass remains to be seen, but I’m fairly confident that computers won’t be running detailed user research anytime soon.

Silicon Brighton wouldn’t be here without people like you giving back to the community so… what does the word community mean to you?

I’ve been involved in the community here in Brighton for many years now. Most of my jobs have been based here, and I’ve been involved with UX Brighton since their first event in 2008.

I’ve got my fingers in several local UX pies as I’m one of the organisers of UX Camp Brighton (an annual UX unconference) and UXup (a community group for people looking to further their careers in UX).


Missed Luke’s talk or want to watch it again? Check it out here…

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