Design Thinking in Your Career : an interview with Tracey Lovejoy

What are the chances that there is another Tracey out there certified in coaching after a few decades of UX work, another Tracey focused on empowering UX Pros to their fullest capability? Those chances can’t be big, so it was a hoot to find Tracey Lovejoy, a talented and insightful Leadership and Career Coach who specializes in helping UX professionals.

Tracey had a successful career as a UX Research Manager during which she co-founded the now 10-year old EPIC (Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference) and cultivated exceptional teams. She is now the proprietor of Lovejoy Consulting and co-founder of UX Careers Unlimited, proud sponsors of the You In UX summit premiering in May.  Our conversation this week is just the beginning. I wanted to share a few nuggets to inspire you this week – there’s nothing in here that you can’t take action on right now.

TH: What’s the advice you wish you had gotten at the beginning of your career?

TL: I wish I had known that I could use my ethnographic skills to study the people around me to make their lives easier. Once you frame your wok to make their lives easier, you create different deliverables, you go to different meetings, and you show up differently in those meetings.

First I thought it was about presentations and having people come. Then I realized it was, “Let me help you write the user section for those requirements.” Use your design thinking to make you more successful in your organization.


TH: What should UX Pros do right now to move their careers forward?

TL: I would say: every UX pro should continually look around them and look at new problems to solve and how to reframe the problem… it’s not necessarily new knowledge or new tools, but helping the organization see the world and products in new ways, in context of new information that comes to be.

Spark conversations rather than coming in and telling. [Then] those ideas actually begin to belong to other people in your organization; that’s a powerful way to bring new ideas. The least powerful way is throwing it over the wall, “I’ve done a deck. Here’s the info. Let me know if you have questions.” That will fail every time.


TH: What’s your take on career planning?

TL: I think approaches to career planning should be different for different people. I do not believe in any one size fits all model to apply to everyone. It’s not always the 1-, 5-, 10-year plan. The first year I saw I had to write 1-5-10 year goals down I was embarrassed to say, “I love my job and don’t want to do something different in a year.” As a starting point I think it is critical for people to think about what motivates them: money, praise, learning new things, moving up the ladder, diversity of projects, the right cultural fit, working with executives, etc. Then use your motivations as a starting point to guide your career planning. People are often surprised when they realize they are motivated by different things than they assumed. For me, I never used the more traditional approaches of ‘write down what you want to accomplish’ and instead

I followed opportunities that were interesting, not because of promotion, but because it ended up creating a satisfying career that kept me engaged and motivated. As a manager what I could see about folks who only were doing it for promotion…I didn’t feel they’d really be able to BRING IT. Those who were rewarded were super stars because of intrinsic motivation and enthusiasm; they wanted to be there.

A model I like is Ian Swinson’s model that is tailored for UX professionals and is more about thinking through your skills and interests, then framing those into potential career paths. At its core the process treats career planning as a design exercise. He will be sharing the model at the You in UX event next month.


Thanks, Tracey! 

We’ll be learning more about Ian Swinson’s model at the You In UX summit that UX Careers Unlimited is launching in May. Sears is a proud sponsor of this global virtual summit featuring 40 industry leaders in addition to Tracey like  Don Norman, Patrick Whitney, and our very own VP of UX, Robert Dietz – all to amplify career potential for UX professionals.   For more info on this amazing access to UX mentors from across the industry, check out

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