Al Del Degan Hosts Navin Jetha
If you would like to listen to this episode, visit: https://rainforestalberta.podbean.com/e/e0140/
[00:00:00] Al Del Degan: Hey everybody. Welcome to the episode. on this episode, I have another InceptionU graduate. Her name is Navan Jetha, hi Navan thanks for joining me.
[00:00:08] Navin Jetha: Hi, Al, how are you?
[00:00:10] Al Del Degan: Good, thanks. Good. Thanks. It's so cool to have you here. I want to start out the show as I usually do, and you're a really, really fascinating person.
You've got a really, really cool background. And, I'd love to hear a little bit about your mini version of your life story. If you don't mind.
[00:00:28] Navin Jetha: A mini version. Okay. I was born in east Africa, Tanzania, and immigrated to Canada on 1978 or something like that. And, when I first came, it was a really foreign country, right.
Like, I mean, here, I've never seen snow before. Right. So snow, when I first know what it was like, wow, this what's no looks like. And I was just, you know, so fascinated by it. well, when we, when we came to Canada, my parents immigrated for education. So education has been, very near and dear to my heart.
When, if there's an opportunity for education, I just, most of the time I've just gone for it, you know,
[00:01:09] Al Del Degan: They came here for your education or for, or because they're educators or maybe you could just clarify that?
[00:01:16] Navin Jetha: Yeah, my parents came here for our education because they didn't have any educational opportunities. Right. They were entrepreneurs, they were business people, they had businesses running.
And so that's why I also have this, a heart over that I want to business, you know, and, but at the same time, education is very, very important in our culture and it was very highly stressed upon us.
[00:01:46] Al Del Degan: That's pretty cool. That's actually really cool. So now you're here. What sort of a trail led you to, I guess being a health instructor and I think it's yoga.
Correct. And, and then from that you decided to all of a sudden pivot to, becoming a software developer. I'd love to hear how that all happened.
[00:02:06] Navin Jetha: Yeah, actually I started when I first, when I, when we came to Canada and then when it was time to go to university, I did take computer science. So I do have a bachelor of science in computer science, and I was hired by a major oil company right after graduation.
And for six years, I was, I was a systems analyst, a database administrator, technical writer. I had several roles. I played in that one position. So I did learn quite a bit, coming out of. that position, then what ended up happening is that, the company I was with merged with another company and some of us got laid off.
So during that time, this is, this is what happened. I took this, computer science. So I do have computer science background fast forward a few years. What ended up happening in the middle of all that is life happened in the middle of that. I had children, I went through a divorce and things happen.
And when I had little children and I got laid off, I, at that point, I decided, you know, what? It makes like the jobs that I was, they were available to me after that position were all twenty four seven on call and I had two little children and it just didn't make any sense as a. to work at a position where, I may not be able to commit completely a hundred percent.
Right. So what I ended up doing is open a day home and that worked out really well, you know, and I realized that I enjoyed running my own business. I enjoyed being home with my family. I enjoyed, I had the flexibility, you know, So that's, that's what I did. And then after that one day I was sitting around, sitting around.
I was, I was looking at a magazine, it was a guide, it was a recreation guide with the city of Calgary. And I was flipping over the pages to look for a swim classes for my kids to, to put them in the swim classes. And I saw an ad in there saying, looking for fitness leaders. And so I called it was fun. It was interesting because I called right away.
Right. In that moment I phoned one of the fitness centers and she said, yeah, we need fitness leaders and we need a water instructors. She said, can you start with that? I said, sure. So I started off as a water instructor and ended up teaching other things like group fitness. And I started teaching yoga then.
And I became very passionate about yoga.
[00:04:50] Al Del Degan: Yeah. Yoga is so amazing. Like, w I mean, people's lives have been transformed by just getting into yoga. That's amazing.
[00:04:58] Navin Jetha: Yeah. So I found that I, I learned so much from that. Just the, just the fact that I had to be in front of so many people in the at first when I started, I had so much anxiety.
Like I'm like, how am I going to teach? I had no problem remembering the routine or remembering what I had to teach. But as soon as I gone in front of people, it was like, oh my God, it's like, I kind of became paralyzed a couple of times, but then I broke through that. And that's when I really felt confident and I realized I can actually do this.
And I, I fell in love with it. I said, I'm making an impact and changing people's lives. I'm bringing energy to the T to the group. I'm like, I felt so good. And I knew all the people that came from my, to my class felt amazing as well. So that's what kept me going there. Yeah. But then of course, pandemic hit.
Right? And then we all got laid off fitness center is shut down and I was like, well, what am I going to do? And, one of the students in my yoga class called me one day, she missed the class. Cause I was teaching a VR, virtual yoga class at the time she missed a class and she said, I missed your class. I'm so sorry, but I got a new job women in technology.
And she said, why, why don't you apply for one of these programs? I said, that's how I found out about EvolveU. Yeah. So I said, well, yeah, I'll apply for it. You know?
[00:06:34] Al Del Degan: That's great. So when you were in the, the InceptionU evolve program, what, what sort of, I mean, with, I actually either didn't know or forgot that you had a computer science background, but you must have, you know, the, the, the knowledge from the past must have came back fairly quickly.
even though the technology itself was probably fairly new compared to what you did in the past. How did you, how did you feel when you were first in, at the beginning of the program?
[00:07:01] Navin Jetha: Actually now that is completely opposite. And I, you know, what I, what I discovered. That I had a lot of fear coming back to computer science or, you know, a developer, especially developer.
I'll be honest with you, especially developer because, I struggled going through school. I struggle getting that degree and I remember we sat there for hours and hours programming and I wasn't alone. We were in a team together. We work together. Yet I remember those days. And, it was challenging. It was, I found it very, very challenging.
And when I look back, I realize it's just the way my brain works. I'm not very detailed oriented, but then when I came back to EvolveU and I gave it another shot, I said, well, you know, I'm sitting here anyways. The summer's going to pass. Whether I take the program or not. And I, I found the courage to start again and I said, I'm going to give it a shot.
This has, this has entered my life. Am I going to walk through this? Am I going to walk through the door or not? And I can do too much thinking about it, even though I'm an over-thinker, I didn't think too much about it. And I walked through the door and all my fears came back. Right. Because I had all this fears.
programming and developing. And I have these fears that I can't do it and my confidence, it was my confidence. And, well, you know, by project two, I actually felt like I can do this by project two. I could, I, I can actually say I can build a MERN stack. I was able to say that and,by project three, I really enjoyed the process, the agile methodology, you know in project three, we came every morning, spend like 15 minutes a day and we had this task to complete from the night before and it was done. It was actually done. And I'm like, when I first took the task, I would take off in the morning at 9:15, I would say, okay, I'm going to take this task on. In my mind is going off saying, well, how are you going to do this task?
[00:09:22] Navin Jetha: You have no clue how to do it? But there was a part of me that said, I'm just going to take it and do it anyways. You know? And then I would go away and ask for help, find somebody to help me. there were a lot of help out there in the cohort six and there were some cohort five, help. So I would look for help.
I didn't give up and I'd found by next morning I had the solution. I had some things done and I felt so good. I love the process because I felt like it was getting things done. my confidence was going up and I was starting to believe that I can actually be a developer again. So I kind of feel like I got a second chance at it.
and at the end, as we were completing the program, as we're coming to the end of it, I was again, in a bit of a dilemma, wondering, do I want to continue with development? Do I not want to continue with development? And, the reason that was happening in my mind was because I have such a strong passion for yoga and for fitness and for helping people and making an impact in the world.
[00:10:30] Navin Jetha: And I couldn't in that moment, in my mind, figuring out how I was going to do that with development. You know, I didn't know how to bring all the skills that I have learned and integrate it with tech in some way. Right. So I, I have decided I am starting a business and I am want to help. People with fitness, you know, help people with, their back pain, their posture, alignment, you know, maybe mini exercises that you need to do while you're a developer, you know, developing for 20 hours.
Because when I was sitting in EvolveU we would sit for so long developing. And I, and I realized I'm not used to that. I was constantly moving as a fitness leader, and now sitting here behind a computer in classes, developing too much sitting, you know, and my body was like, you're sitting for too long and I would have to take these little mini breaks.
And maybe there was some heel raises or something by the microwave while my T's warming up or something, you know? And I'm like, okay, I should put this somewhere in a, in a, in a course, you know, and put it out there because I really believe that, whenever career we choose. Whatever path we choose in our lives. Our health will always have to be taken care of. Our bodies are always going to have to be taken care of. so I, I want to continue building my business as a side hustle. And at the same time, I would like to find a position in tech somewhere because I have more confidence now that I can do. after having gone through the EvolveU program and after having you wonderful facilitators, you know, rooting for us and saying, yeah, you can do this.
You know, and I think it's finally, I'm thinking in my brain that I can actually do this.
[00:12:31] Al Del Degan: That's cool. And you can probably take that one step further. And the, as, as you have the side hustle going anyways, the job you look for, you might be able to find something in a company that actually builds technology for fitness related, applications.
So that could be a kind of a really neat, merger of your background and your, and your new ideas. But that's, that's really, really fascinating. And, and I, and I like that. Out of the course, not only did you, did you get some education, but you also were able to sort of build some confidence. That's really telling that that's a lot of people don't realize that it's not just a tech course, that there's other, other aspects to it in ways of unlearning and ways of, of, you know, understanding information in a different way.
creative thinking, systems, thinking all those sorts of things. And then you take, the LifePath series to look into. Yourself. And I I've heard so many of the learners from the past cohorts say how some of those non-tech pieces were where some of the most important pieces in the, in the program. Do you want to speak to that a little bit?
[00:13:36] Navin Jetha: Yeah, absolutely. Like, I mean, oh, there's so much to say there, like it's not just tech, tech is just one part of it. I think a bigger portion of it is the,essential skills portion. Where we learned a lot about mindset and unlearning and like you say, creative thinking, systems learning and, yeah.
[00:14:01] Al Del Degan: Well do you think. You know, going forward, you had kind of mentioned that. Well, actually I think it may be was before we actually started recording, but you had mentioned something about you like working with people a lot. And so your, your career aspiration might include something along the lines of some sort of support position in tech.
And that that's one of the other things that, that that's really cool is as a human being, you build all these skills over the years. Those skills can be applied in so many different ways. And a lot of people get stuck on positions in companies and it's like, okay, well, there's a product manager and project manager.
I always get the two mixed up. And then you have, you know, business analysts, then you have software developer and then you have a QA engineer or whatever. there's also. Titles out there, but yet, if you look at what skillsets people have, they actually could easily transfer to a totally different, you know, area that they perhaps have never had the job title of, but they ended up excelling in that position because they have the skills and experience to make that position really successful.
And I suspect you're in that kind of a situation where, you know, you may not want to be at a keyboard writing code each day, but you do love being there. And you've already said you liked the teaching side of things and you, and you like to work, you do like technology, but you also like health and stuff.
And I could tell you, you know, in our industry, in the, in the technology kind of industry there's so many people sitting at desks all the time and, being able to have, you know, small little sort of activities that they can do to make sure that they keep the blood flowing and the joints lubricated while they're in, in that all the sitting at a desk situation that could be really valuable for people.
[00:15:51] Navin Jetha: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. there are so many opportunities out there, you know, with my job searching. I'm realizing there is then the opportunities are actually endless and our mindset, what ends up happening? What I'm realizing about me is I it's like I get stuck in this mindset thinking, oh, that's all that's available.
But really when I opened my mind up a little bit more, even just a little bit more, it doesn't have to be that much. I realized there are endless opportunities and. So, yeah. Sometimes I'm looking at these jobs and I go, yeah, I can do all these jobs, you know? And do I apply for all these jobs and yeah, I do want to talk to a customer or don't want to talk to somebody while I'm doing my job.
I really honestly don't want to sit behind a computer, having to code all day. I don't think that. Be good for my soul because I need to see people and I need to be around people, but there are so many endless opportunities where I can take a little bit of technical portion of technical that I have learned and bring it into another position.
So, yeah, you're right. A title of a job. It doesn't say too much about what I will be doing if I apply for a job. And so we must keep our minds open to what we're applying for. And, and, you might be doing a little bit of tech and maybe doing some business work or talking to people more, but tech is here in every area of life, you know?
So I think just getting any kind of technical education. is, is valuable right now at this point, because right now the, way Calgary's changing, forget the world, but Calgary's changing right now. I'm hearing that it is the Silicon valley of Canada. So, you know, you might as well get some tech education because every job that I've applied for so far, even if I'm not looking for a tech job, they require some technical skills.
So I'm just keeping an open mind as to, what kind of position, that I will land I'm being open-minded it will be my first junior tech position after so many years of being away. I consider myself going back to junior level and I'm okay with that. I know we're okay with that. And I'm okay to start, at that point.
yeah. And. yeah, just keeping an open mind, I think is very, very important when you're job searching.
[00:18:28] Al Del Degan: Cool. So if a potential employer just happened to be listening to this podcast and listening to you talk what's what sort of thing would you like them to know about, well, you specifically, but also about the people that have taken these, you know, we call them bootcamp programs, kind of, what sort of message would you like to pass along to them?
I would like to let them know that the people who finished the EvolveU program are very, very capable of learning and getting the work done because we have been trained to get the work done. I mean, we've been trained to get the work done the next day. We use the Trello system. We use the agile methodology.
We have the EvolveU program has taught us so much more than just technology. We have learned the business process. We have learned the technology. I can't imagine the person who is not graduated from EvolveU. I can't imagine that person not being able to. Do well in any company that they get hired in, right?
[00:19:45] Navin Jetha: Because they have the background, they have the knowledge, they have the skills, they have the support.
[00:19:52] Al Del Degan: That's a that's actually, that's actually a really good. Yeah. Yeah. That's a really good point. one of the things that you had said there about the support every time, a new cohort of learners graduates from the program, they don't just disappear off the face of the earth.
They usually hang around and help the next cohort and they end up, we have an alumni process where people can stay together and get to know other people from the other cohorts. And so there's that sort of, you have sort of an instant network and an instant support framework for,your future career.
What would you like to tell someone who's kind of on the fence? Not really sure if going down the bootcamp road is, a good idea or not. What would you say to them?
[00:20:38] Navin Jetha: I would say go for it. I would totally say go for it because even if you feel like you've never done any tech before, or you're sitting on the fence and your mind is telling you.
Things, you know, listen to your gut feeling because listen to your guts because you've got will not lie to you. And most likely it's going to say, go for it because the world is changing. Technology is everywhere. It's in every part of life now. So taking a course like this, a bootcamp course is invaluable at this point, at this stage in, the development of the world anywhere you would be totally an asset to any resume.
[00:21:27] Al Del Degan: Excellent. I like it. ha ha ha ha
[00:21:29] Navin Jetha: Don't you believe that Al?
[00:21:33] Al Del Degan: Totally do absolutely. 100%. you know, there's a sort of two camps. There's, there's people who say no to everything and then they feel like they're, they're getting their life back because they're not, not always, you know, in the middle of something all the time. And then there's the other side of the people where they feel like their life has changed so much by saying yes to everything. I mean, that's a little extreme. I mean, obviously there's a happy middle, but I think people should take on challenges and things that scare them. I think they should say yes more often than, they say no .
You have more regrets for things that you didn't do than the things that you did do. so, you know, always sitting around wishing you would have done something is a horrible way to live your life. So sometimes you should just give it a shot and go for it. Like you said, go for it.
[00:22:18] Navin Jetha: I would totally say go forward because otherwise you will live in your comfort zone and. To know that you are not in your comfort zone is to actually go out there, take a risk, put yourself out there. And that's one of the things I learned from the EvolveU program is to take a risk, is to put myself out there.
And one of the things I really, really got was that not to be afraid to put myself out there, it doesn't matter whether I'm going to do a tech field or not a tech field. But just to get one thing just to even have gotten one thing. And if that was, if I only got one thing out of EvolveU and if it was, don't be afraid to put yourself out there, that would be enough to have taken that program if I got nothing else out of it, but I got so much more than that.
So I am so glad I said yes.
[00:23:18] Al Del Degan: That's great. I love that. Well, I, on that, I think that's an absolutely perfect note to, to end the show. And, I would really, really like to say, thank you so much for taking the time to be here. I wish you all the best and anybody. Who's, who's looking to hire somebody in the, you know, to, in a technical person that can be involved with customers and has the kind of background and energy that you have. I think they, they should totally be contacting you. And on that note, we will have your LinkedIn profile in the show notes and in case anyone does want to talk to you and, yeah. Thanks for being here.
[00:23:56] Navin Jetha: It was fun. It was fun.
[00:23:59] Al Del Degan: Of course it was always is.
[00:24:00] Navin Jetha: Thank you.
[00:24:01] Al Del Degan: Have a wonderful day.
Peter Beaudoin Hosts Tamara Loiselle
If you would like to listen to this episode, visit: https://www.rainforestab.ca/podcast.html
[00:00:00] Peter Beaudoin: Thanks Al. Hi, my name is Peter Beaudoin and I'll be your host of today's rainforest podcast. Today's guest is Tamara Loiselle she's the CEO and founder of Synergraze, a Calgary based company operating in the ag space. So welcome to Tamara.
[00:00:12] Tamara Loiselle: Thank you, Peter, for having me.
[00:00:14] Peter Beaudoin: So it's really great to have you here. I know that we've. Sorta we met actually prior to, to COVID and I think we've been trying to connect and get online for a while. So it's really good to have you here. So we'll just start off, I mean, tell us a little bit about Synergraze and, and what problem are you trying to solve?
We are working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cattle, as a by-product of their digestion cattle belch methane, which is about 25 times more potent as a greenhouse trapping gas than is carbon dioxide.
[00:00:42] Tamara Loiselle: And cattle produce the equivalent carbon emission. As the entire global transportation sector, the same as every car, truck, train, plane, and ship on the planet combined each year. So we are focusing on creating a cattle feed additive that is capable of reducing methane emissions from cattle by approximately 90%.
[00:01:04] Peter Beaudoin: That's great. So what is it? So what, is the actual product.
[00:01:07] Tamara Loiselle: Ya, so its a natural product, which is very exciting. So it's a natural algae based product and, of the 4.9 million head of cattle here in Alberta having just 20% of them on this additive would reduce carbon emissions equivalent to taking a million cars off the road each year.
[00:01:25] Peter Beaudoin: Okay. So, so when we talk about it's an algae base, so where where's it actually coming from? Cause that's, I think is a really intriguing thing about the technology. Where do you source the algae from?
[00:01:34] Tamara Loiselle: So we are actually building a production facility here in Canada and we are. Tank cultivating the algae ourselves.
So it originally obviously comes from the ocean and as a Marine species, but we are tank cultivating and processing then getting to cattle producers here in Canada.
[00:01:56] Peter Beaudoin: So just want to explore that a bit. So in terms of cattle feed, You know, a dairy cow. I mean, I don't know the exact number, but can eat 20, 25 kilograms of, of sort of a feed a day.
What's the feed. How does it actually work? What are you actually doing to, to add this to their food? What does it look like?
[00:02:12] Tamara Loiselle: The best analogy is a supplement pill or a little powder that we're just sprinkling into their food. It's less than 1% of their daily diet. Is this algae based. So it just gets mixed in.
So if you're at a feedlot, it's just getting mixed into they're daily ration by weight and they just eat their food the way they normally would. So there's no change in their feeding protocol.
[00:02:40] Peter Beaudoin: So let me, let me ask you about a little bit of the business drivers. Cause I know that like in markets like California, they've mandated sort of a 40% reduction in emissions from livestock.
Right? So by I think by whatever 24. You know, in California has some of the largest dairy herds in, in north America, but w w what's happening in Canada and the rest of the world with regards to sort of methane reduction. What's the, you know, where, where are we going?
[00:03:04] Tamara Loiselle: Well, you mentioned California, which is interesting because it is the very first jurisdiction on the planet to mandate methane emission reductions in cattle, those new legislative requirements kick in beginning in 2024.
And there's a lot of cattle producers in California that are really scrambling and desperately searching for solutions because a 40% reduction it is big and there's not a lot of solutions out there that can offer that. So a lot of them are spending millions. Anaerobic digesters to, reduce the methane from the manure piles, where our solution is going to be a fraction of the cost and far more effective if you're getting up to a 90%.
So in Canada, we don't have any legislation driving reductions, but we do have incentives, around, particularly in Alberta, around a carbon credit protocol for the reduction of methane in cattle. So it's a voluntary protocol so that exists and other jurisdictions within Canada, other provinces, as well as the federal governments are also closely examining having such similar protocols in their arsenal, which I think will definitely drive and insent methane reductions in cattle production facilities.
[00:04:19] Peter Beaudoin: Great. So obviously it's a, it's a great solution. So I wanted to talk a little bit about your sort of entrepreneur journey and it's interesting. Cause like I said, we had met at. You were pitching, I think it was the foresight event. You reminded me.
It was 2019. I thought it was 2020, but you know, it's that long ago, it's a year and a half ago, longer than that. And when we, you know, when we met, you had pitched and you went out and all of a sudden COVID hits. So what's happened in the year and a half since, since you came out of the Cleantech accelerator.
[00:04:45] Tamara Loiselle: And that was a wonderful experience, actually, that. Foresight platform. Calgary clean tech accelerator was great to really get me focused and thinking about things we could be doing as a, as a company. And then you're right. COVID hit. And I really focused our efforts on raising funds, developing our, get to market plan.
And, during that period of time, we did apply for the era emission reduction, Alberta. They had a challenge in food, farming and forest, and we were a successful applicants in that. So yeah, we really focused on raising money and getting our plans together. And now we're off to the races and building a facility.
[00:05:27] Peter Beaudoin: That's great. And I wanted to talk a little bit about that. You know, you say you one and I know how much blood, sweat, and tears you goes into this size of application. But just to be clear, I mean, from what was posted on the ERA website, you, you were awarded $5 million on a 20 potential $20 million project.
[00:05:44] Tamara Loiselle: Right? So firstly, congratulations. Okay. Sorry. $15 million project. So. and that's, that's huge. Right? So, so, and congratulations on that. Cause I know how hard it is to apply for those and, and, and to be successful. So can you tell me a little bit about, so, so what, what is this, the, the Cadillac natives project and what impact will this have on your business?
Well, our, our, I mean, our entire company is focused on this cattle additive. So as I mentioned before, is algae based feed additive. You know, the impact of the era grant greatly accelerates our. Timeline to market and really got things going for us in terms of, you know, provide, you know, other potential investors, making the decision to, to get in.
And, like I said, it really enabled our pathway to. commercialization and we have a three-year project outline that we'll have a first, first level commercial scale production facility that we'll be producing about 460 tons per year. Dry weight of our food additive getting to market.
[00:06:44] Peter Beaudoin: So, so th th that's great. So if I understand correctly, I mean, the funding will be used to build the first of its kinds facility to actually grow and produce the algae.
And so for, and you said 460 tons a year, dry weight. So I mean, how much, how many, you know, is this enough for the Alberta market, the Canadian market? How big is that? you know, at the end of three years, when you get to commercialization, what does that mean?
[00:07:04] Tamara Loiselle: So that 460 tons a year will feed enough cattle to result in a 78,000 tons per year reduction in carbon dioxide equivalent, from cattle and feed lots.
[00:07:18] Peter Beaudoin: That's great. That's great. So, I mean, is the plan then, I mean, if this is successful, then you actually grow more facilities or you, you then sort of scale, correct. This is really the you're proving the ability to scale this technology.
[00:07:30] Tamara Loiselle: Exactly. So then we would scale up from there and also increase the number of size of the facilities.
And work on our formulations. There is active ingredients, so we can also be looking at increasing the concentrations of active ingredients. So there's a number of fronts we're looking at to yeah. For expansion.
[00:07:46] Peter Beaudoin: Great. That's great. So, and, and it's a three-year project then on your, where are you building the facility?
[00:07:51] Tamara Loiselle: So we, we have activities in both BC and Alberta. And, our focus for our market or commercial rollout market is here in Alberta. And like I said, we are a, we are an Alberta based company, but we do need,actual free oceans. So we do have, some facilities out in BC as well.
[00:08:09] Peter Beaudoin: Tell me a little bit about that cause I am interested. I mean, you know, you say you, you, you harvest it from, is it you're harvesting it from the ocean and then you're growing it at the facility, is that correct?
[00:08:19] Tamara Loiselle: So we have seed stock. That's been sourced and everything pretty much happens on, on tanks in the facility.
[00:08:27] Peter Beaudoin: Oh, so you don't have to go back. It's not a continuous thing. You, you can sort of get it and grow from it. Wow. Okay. Okay. Well, let, let's talk a little bit about your, your sort of personal journey. I'm interested to know a little bit, I mean, you're now, because again, when we met you as a year and a half ago, I know the CEO is sometimes a lonely job, right?
So what what's, what's the biggest challenge, I guess, about being a CEO, you know, especially during COVID, I mean, what has been your biggest challenges,
[00:08:52] Tamara Loiselle: Biggest challenges. Well honestly its been pretty exciting. I've been pretty invested in this project for, for a number of years. So as things started to get moving, it's just been, it's been pretty exhilarating.
So, you know, it's been a wonderful journey actually. And then putting together a team and, you know, having a team that everybody works well together. And is, is running on all cylinders is it's all been really quite exciting, you know, because there was a couple of years to get things funded. And that was really the biggest challenge.
Once that fell into place. Everything else has just been running on, on, on full tilt.
[00:09:32] Peter Beaudoin: So how many staff do you have now tomorrow?
[00:09:34] Tamara Loiselle: There's about, there's six of us right now and there's kind of a core group. We will be expanding that as well, actually, probably within the next month or two, we will be looking for more folks, but yeah, it really went from one to six.
[00:09:50] Peter Beaudoin: It's interesting. I mean, I am, you know, cause you said you've been working on this for a few years, so. Where like, can you tell me a little bit about sort of, how did this start? Cause, I mean, I met you already in your journey when you were at the foresight accelerator, where did it start? I mean, you've been at this a few years. Can you tell us a little bit more about where to originated?
[00:10:09] Tamara Loiselle: So my background's environmental science within the faculty of agriculture at university of Alberta. So I always had this interest. I come from a ranching family, so I always had this interest in environmental science, but also connected to agriculture and other things.
I spent a number of years working with indigenous communities on, on environmental training and community capacity building had come across some research by actually a Canadian researcher who did it, who had his initial discovery. So Dr. Rob Kinley here in Canada, while he was at Dalhousie university and had, published some work around the connection between algae and seaweeds and methane reduction. And there's lots of algaes that will have a small impact on methane reduction in cattle, approximately, you know, say around 15% or so, but then he discovered, one particular species that had a, he was testing in vitro at that time that had a 99% reduction.
And that's what really kicked off this whole area. And. Really a lot of excitement because, because there's so much carbon dioxide, equivalent, greenhouse gases that come from the cattle production sector, there is, there's really a lot of people around the planet, investing resources and time and energy into this.
So once he made that discovery, it definitely fueled, development. It is a species that nobody has ever commercially grown before. So there are technical and scientific challenges to be. Developing and growing this. And so I had just reached out, after reading the research and the saying, Hey, I'll be really interested in commercializing this over here in Canada and kept that relationship going.
And, now here it is five years later and we're finally building a production facility
[00:12:00] Peter Beaudoin: So five years. Yeah. So we always hear of overnight successes, but usually it is five years. So, you know, it does take a while, like, so I can appreciate that. So I guess is, you know, again, five years you've gone through, I know the, like we said, the foresight accelerator, and now you've won the ERA funding.
If you were going to look back and go, Hey, if I did it again, you know, what would you do differently?
[00:12:20] Tamara Loiselle: Well, honestly, I don't think, I, I think everything like the timing just really fell into place for everything. So I'm not sure there's anything I could've done differently. I mean, getting also involved with the clean tech accelerator was, was a huge benefit.
Maybe that'd be one thing if I, you know, give suggestions to other people that are in startups, I like getting involved with that type of a accelerator and support was something that was very beneficial.
[00:12:45] Peter Beaudoin: But let's explore that. I mean, because did you find that or were you recommended to go into that? How did you, you know, firstly, how did you find the foresight accelerator?
[00:12:53] Tamara Loiselle: You know what I was at the, the technology awards event at SAIT just meeting people and actually I, and I, and this is horrible. I can't even remember the name of the woman, but I was just, just somebody I had met there that evening. a lady was telling me what I do and she's like, oh, do you know about the foresight accelerator?
And. Made some introductions and I, applied immediately and, ya it was accepted and it was the first time the foresight and platform had done a clean tech program. And, yeah, it was, it was a really good,experience and connecting with others CEOs of startups in a similar space
[00:13:29] Peter Beaudoin: challenges. Yeah. Yeah. So are you still in contact with some of them? Are you still working, I guess, with the foresight accelerator or how does that, how has that evolved after you've sort of completed the program?
[00:13:40] Tamara Loiselle: Yeah, so I'm still connected, with, folks from that program and the, and the foresight itself and, yes. Actually I had a couple of communications yesterday with one of the other fellow CEOs from that program.
[00:13:53] Peter Beaudoin: So it's been great. Well, that's good. That's good. So I guess is I did want to ask you, are you looking for investors? Right? Cause I know that after coming out, when I met you a year ago, you were, but now you've got this great project with ERA. So where are you on that front?
[00:14:06] Tamara Loiselle: So we, we have, successfully raised dollars and we're fully funded for the next 18 months or so, and then we'll be looking for investors after that, for that time period going forward. And so, yeah, always happy to chat with interested potential investors and, we'll be definitely making, an effort, to be bringing in more investment to in that 18 month window.
[00:14:29] Peter Beaudoin: So can I ask, I mean, looking forward, I mean, you know where, you know, if you want to say.
Cause obviously in three years, you're looking to have the facility built and starting to scale. So if we look forward in five years, I mean, where do you want to be with this?
[00:14:42] Tamara Loiselle: oh, in five years, I would really like to see good chunk of north America's cattle. On an additive, such as Synergraze .
Yeah. So, like I said, I mean just 20% in just our province alone is the equivalent of reducing, you know, taking a million cars off the road. So if we could have 40% or even more, or if it became industry standard practice to have a, an additive such as this, that can reduce. 90% of our methane emissions, that really goes a long way to making a significant dent in the greenhouse gas emissions from the cattle production sector, and mitigating the environmental footprint overall of the sector.
[00:15:25] Peter Beaudoin: That's great. That's great. So, if listeners want to know more, what should they do?
[00:15:29] Tamara Loiselle: Well, they can check out our website at synergraze.com and you can also reach out to me on LinkedIn.
[00:15:36] Peter Beaudoin: Great. Well, thanks for your time today Tamara. I know it's been a while since we've been trying to talk, so it was great to chat today, so thank you.
[00:15:42] Tamara Loiselle: Thank you for having me. It was a pleasure.
[00:15:44] Peter Beaudoin: And for the listeners, I want to say, thanks for listening. Have a great day.
If you would like to listen to this episode, visit: https://www.podbean.com/ew/pb-8ktqf-10f7f60
[00:00:00] Patrick Wu: Thanks Al. Hi everyone. Welcome back to the rainforest leaders, innovators, and big ideas podcast. My name is Patrick and with me today is Louis Berman. he is one of the founders. Is that correct? Of the Calgary UX meetup?
[00:00:15] Luis Berumen: No, no, no. I took over some of the direction in 2019 but yeah, they, they meet obviously been around for almost 10 years, actually November 3rd we are celebrating our first decades of existence. And, yeah, let's say I just took over from a large lineage of design leaders and thought people that wanted to make Calgary UX an ongoing thing. So yeah, it's an ongoing thing for ten years.
[00:00:45] Patrick Wu: So it's only, it's only been two years for you and you already made like a very big name for yourself. I think you, you are like the face of the Calgary UX meetup group, and there's a lot of people in the community we think. No, no, you, at this point.
[00:00:58] Luis Berumen: Yeah. So tell me, I don't, I don't think I should be the face, you know, I think, if we have to have a face, I think it should be collective or at least somebody with a much better face, but if they say it needs to attach the name to for community I am find with it,
but really the idea is to make it something that allows people to step in, to make a project, to build creative spaces and to move on. Right. They don't need to stay to long but just good enough to make it up.
[00:01:29] Patrick Wu: Yeah. Great. Well, I mean, we've, we've already kind of gotten into that a little bit. So how did you get involved with the Calgary UX thing?
Or maybe let's go back a little bit. Like, how did you get into design? Where, where, like, you know, what were you like as a kid? How did, how did you get to where you are today?.
[00:01:45] Luis Berumen: That's that's almost 40 years back. So it's it's yeah, let's say flashback eh, well, the honest truth is that I always felt like a designer, you know, and, in Mexico, yeah.
We kind of history of creative endeavors, trying to be very artistic in many ways. At the same time, we don't have a design culture to really grasp on. So for me, it was a mostly trying to understand the symbols of the building something I tried to do to put together some toys or some ideas or some drawings, and then finding that a yeah, that's called design.
And, yeah, it takes a couple of decades to really it out what actually a designer does, but really the incentive and the ideas were always there.
[00:02:43] Patrick Wu: Did you, did you go to school for design?
[00:02:45] Luis Berumen: Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Yes. in that sense. yeah, I want to, well, the university's called Jalisco, which is in Guadalajara my home town.
And yeah, I spent five years in university just trying to learn how to be a designer. It's a, it's a very interesting curriculum because you can be, you have to learn graphic design, industrial design. And at that time when we were a, just discovering what exactly the web is, you know, beginning of the 2000's and was smart about multimedia, right?
So we were thinking about, either design the pages in flash or trying to understand basic HTML and trying to see how the upgrade the website and just see. So it's been a long time and we have be there. Let's say that is phase for also a longer time, but what can I say? You know, if you have a.
They the impression of how you want to be a designer at the end that technology comes and you adapt to it. Right. So it doesn't matter if you've had to do graphic design and industrial design, or UX in this case.
[00:03:51] Patrick Wu: It's crazy to think kind of what, what the internet was like on a back in the early two thousands, late nineties, like the wild west of the internet back then, like definitely, flash for example, even just that name alone was like, man, we haven't heard about Flash in like ages my goodness. But how, how, how much, in your opinion do you think the Internet's kind of evolved since those days?
[00:04:13] Luis Berumen: Wow. Hmm. That's a good question. Because in many ways it has the both, and also has the bolt. So when are you? I, at the beginning thought that the internet was a way to connect people by that's a way to
to to talk to a stranger and trying to figure out where, what this person needs you and who they are and trying to get me to conversations that we never figured out before. You know, so it busted at the time of having a Yahoo chat, I don't know if you ever heard or seen about it?
[00:04:43] Patrick Wu: I remember like MSN and AOL, but I guess Yahoo had their own thing back then, you know?
[00:04:50] Luis Berumen: Yeah. So, so in that sense, there were not many opportunities to do beyond your own sphere or having your own community and just stuck to some particular set of people. It was more like a access to everybody at the same time and just fantasy. What was going. And now things are much more regulated and certainly things have evolved up to a point where extremely hard to remind you that life without internet existed before that, at the same time, it's also very easy to just talk to a particular set of people or go to it does take a really niche set of interfaces and experiences there. So that's where I feel like we have been through a very interesting journey but at the same time we have missed, something's not developed.
[00:05:38] Patrick Wu: Yeah. Well, since after graduating then where did you, where did you end up going?
[00:05:42] Luis Berumen: Well, I, I spent some time in Mexico saving some money to go to Barcelona.
I always wanted to live and work there. That was my dream since I was 12 years old. And, yeah, they, they, original idea is, or was to get the master's degree in product development and that time I was dreaming about making physical products, you know, it just like a Stoller sort or a crutches or anything that had a industrial design component.
I was super excited about it. Then once I finished my master degree. I worked for a little while over there, and that's when I had the opportunity to start working at an agency and discover there was that there was something much more a relevant happening at the time the because my introduction to user experience.
And I had the chance to start working for the e-commerce side of Panasonic. And yeah, it was, it was a very formative experience because it was really crazy how you can make a change and suddenly 8,000 people will be able to, to see that right now, 8,000 doesn't sound like much. But for me, it does the idea of a, if you design a product, eh, you have to wait six months until all the moulds and all the material gets done.
And if you're lucky maybe 20 people are going to buy it and they are going to like it. And maybe it's going to get a potential commercial. success and yeah, if you made a mistake well, too bad you cannot fix it. I'm very prone to mistakes. I really appreciate it.
[00:07:22] Patrick Wu: I mean, it's a human thing, right? Everyone's prone to mistakes.
[00:07:26] Luis Berumen: Oh, well, in that case I'm more human than others, you know, but really what I wanted was to be able to. To connect with as many people as possible and having, having a platform like an e-commerce site, you can just kind of see right away how an improvement happens. And also a how that actually helps the bottom line for the business, that's just incredible.
[00:07:56] Patrick Wu: So you went from like an interest in physical product design and you kind of went into e-commerce.
Do you miss in product design? Would you'd like to try and like do a project back then, or
[00:08:06] Luis Berumen: it's funny because nowadays everything is circling back right now you have internet of things. So basically it's kinda like your, your products are just gaining his soul, you know, made out of a code. And you have artificial intelligence and censors., yeah, it's, I think of it. The next step, for UX is being much more involved into the physical side of the experience or getting into the beautiful side that emulates a ton of activity it's full immersion into, into other physical environments that we cannot really access. So you can see that.
[00:08:47] Patrick Wu: The tools and capabilities that you can learn from one experience either industrial design and graphic design. Are never really left behind. Right. It's just, they're just waiting for that. it just kind of becomes like this all encompassing thing of design at that point. Right.
[00:09:03] Luis Berumen: Or or maybe they have multiple branches that just suddenly invites them through other branches and it's just computer code right, but it's beautiful
[00:09:13] Patrick Wu: it's very true. Like even, even with what I'm working on right now, it turns out, even though I. Like my primary projects was working on a software product. It's integrated with a whole bunch of hardware. It's integrated with a whole bunch of physical devices that people are using. And you had to have to think about what does that whole experience look like outside and beyond the app?
What do people do with these products physically? And it all becomes like this full vertical thing, which I guess makes sense why our UX department has actually rolled into sales and product development because in the end, it's all very much tied to. The product development life cycle as well. So what are you up to these days?
So like, if it's not managing, not just managing the Calgary UX meetup, but then like what, what would you be doing otherwise?
[00:09:59] Luis Berumen: Wow. yeah, so I keeping myself quite busy, but then let's say my full-time job right now is that the Enbridge innovation lab and, yeah, there's quite a lot of, of work that is related to internal things sensor artificial intelligence
I'm not working on the side of, of virtual reality, but there, there is a group of people and teammates that I worked in on that side, let's say they are, they're proposing quite a lot of interesting things
[00:10:27] Patrick Wu: Enbridge is an oil and gas company, right?
[00:10:30] Luis Berumen: Yeah, exactly.
[00:10:30] Patrick Wu: So what are, what are they doing on, on virtual reality and, and that kind of side of innovation then?
[00:10:37] Luis Berumen: I can't really say too much on that side. Yeah, because obviously that is a bigger thing. and also some of the, the solutions that are, but these aren't meant on it for the company. So the company certainly is that big, that allows a part of the company to produce their own solutions that other part of the company will adopt
and that's, I think one of the most interesting things that caught my attention, because most of the time you don't get to have a captive audience, right. Then you don't get to see who is going to be your or decide who's going to be your user, but in this case, have much more control on that. So that made it really interesting.
[00:11:20] Patrick Wu: Maybe, maybe then the better question to ask is not specifically within Enbridge, but like, do you find that our oil and gas sector is actually taking advantage? like design aspect of things and integrating them into their products and services.
[00:11:32] Luis Berumen: Hmm. That's a good question. Eh, I think actually I've seen quite a lot of, really great companies and solutions that have come out.
It seems maybe, well, when was that it was 2012. Yeah. So whenever you see a, sort of a crisis happening on the oil and gas industry there's also a conflict, a counterbalance of either a group of people that are trying to use technology to improve efficiencies or a kind of like the market adjusts itself to match the particular circumstance.
So let's say from the first crisis that I remember the site, these have been here for 12 years, so we had a couple of them going on
[00:12:16] Patrick Wu: Oh man ya, that was like 10 years ago now almost.
[00:12:20] Luis Berumen: So let's say for, they saw this opportunity for processes to need to apply and sometimes you involve a kind of like, assisting on a crisis or performing some particular actions or a time to be on, on places and, a consensus that are normally quite dangerous. And I guess also you can see that there are many places, especially in Canada, where if you just stay more than half an hour, you are going to die, because the second it's either very cold or they, the environment is potentially hazardous.
So if they send me anything that allows people to avoid those spaces, there is a chance for technology to assist in that sense.
[00:13:08] Patrick Wu: Let's, let's talk a little bit about the Calgary UX meetup group then. So what you already kind of alluded to it, but like what drew your attention to this? What, so you, you know, a little bit about what happened before, do you know kind of how it was started? It's like 10 years ago you said.
[00:13:26] Luis Berumen: I don't know.
and this is maybe something I need to do. You know, I need to make a, an event where I gathered all the original, foundational elements and try to see, try to piece together. This history you have for such a long time. And certainly I've been a member since I think it was two thousand and 14 or 16, but at the same time, one of the biggest challenges they had was.
[00:13:54] Luis Berumen: quite a lot of, the, the events and the setup where physical and we're downtown. So for me a to actually get there on time, that meant either leaving work earlier because I was working in the Northeast or trying to plan my day around it. And that was very hard for me. So it just was one of the classic ones that you just sign up.
And I was just looking at the events that I, I just missed, I'm going to make it my personal homework. You're not just trying to get this out, that, that, that history and trying to find a way to record it and pass it on. So it really feels like it belongs and it's part of a much more complete compass
[00:14:36] Patrick Wu: So, how did you eventually get roped into becomming like the main organizer of, of the Calgary UX meetup events then?
Well, I think, yeah, listen, that's a good question. I think it was just a set of coincidences. I think it was around 2018 when they got a email. I think it was from Jason [???] At the time. And he was,just as asking for, for us to complete a form, if you want it to be a collaborators, you know?
And, I just filled it out and forgot about it. It's the classic thing. Yeah. I would love to collaborate. I would love, I would love to volunteer and I, I just really put it on the back of my head and nothing happened until it was 2019. And then it was, yeah, I, I was contacted again. It's like, Hey, yeah, we're thinking about passing the, passing the Baton to another, another team.
We want to make it complete to the new leadership team. And I was invited there and, at the beginning we were, we were happy more members and,yeah. Then COVID happen and. what can they say? You know, if things got complicated for all their other team members and it's completely understandable, right?
Like it was a completely out of the circumstance. We were going to switch things, quite delicately, and also it's been a challenging time for everybody on the mental, physical and professional side. So it's some of us couldn't continue and, I just stick around until maybe another people come and that's got the baton
2019. It must've been an interesting time because you didn't really have a lot of time before suddenly 2020 hit. And then everything that came along with 2020 right. And do you, do you find that, like, I guess the, maybe the size of the group has now, like when you, when you started to going from physical events to virtual events, cause everyone had to go to virtual.
you know, I've been noticing that there's a lot more people kind of coming from outside of Calgary and outside of Canada, like just joining in on a lot of our meetup groups. Have you, have you kind of seen that, we've been getting a lot of growth in this meetup group then?
[00:16:46] Luis Berumen: Yeah. Yeah. What would seem crazy?
when, when I used to started, we were 1900 members. Now we are around 2,200. I, I keep tabs of where everybody's coming, you know, based on, on meet up information. So, so let's say it's publicly available. I'm not, not gripping on anybody's information, but for me it's really irrelevant because it really tells me what.
[00:17:12] Luis Berumen: And what kind of audiences are we attracting? Also a what kind of connection? So pernicious from the start of the working week, you know, so these days, for example, working with, the, a similar group from Edmonton makes a lot of sense, right? Like we need to work together as a province. And what has happened also in the very recent years is that there have been very recent in recent months.
Oh, feels like years, you know, but, yeah, we have been attracting quite a lot of people from a Toronto, from Vancouver. and from San Francisco and I don't know exactly what are the key reasons why they are looking at us, you know, but at the same time, It's really interesting that this places that normally is half a much more mature set of companies and practices and a better market for UX, they want to look at us and they want to connect.
[00:18:13] Patrick Wu: That's really interesting. Yeah. So, well, what's your hypothesis then? Of why, why do you think there's so much interest from these like, you know, cities that we would otherwise assume to have a much more mature tech org like innovation ecosystems, then
[00:18:27] Luis Berumen: That's a very good question it's really hard to point out yet because part of that could be maybe because of the accessibility of the events we try to actually welcome everybody. Right? They can hear me saying that the beginning of every event, but this is Calgary UX but if you are not coming, from Canada, you're welcome anyways and we really mean it we need everybody from everywhere. But at the same time, I think, some of the, the external circumstances that are happening allows us to start thinking outside the whole city.
So are there people from Toronto that are considering to move to Calgary, because obviously the housing market is way cheaper, or they have the maybe a different set of opportunities that they cannot really find in Toronto. Or they just were actually originally from Calgary, but they moved to Toronto and now they're seeing some activity and they want to come back because obviously the main families still here or their roots are stronger than maybe some other inclinations or some other connections that they have yielded over the years. So I still not completely 100% sure because it's still, it's hard to kind of like piece together the information, But I have a really good guess.
[00:19:53] Patrick Wu: Well? I mean, I imagine it's a lot of harder for you to just go straight up to these.
People's like, so why are you here? Even though we told you you're allowed to be here. Right. And it's a harder request in to just kind of throw at people I imagined,
[00:20:06] Luis Berumen: but at the same time, what can I say? You know, I, while some of that happens, I get to see some people from the select channel. Just mentioning that.
I'm from Calgary or I'm from Toronto and they want to see what's going on here
[00:20:23] Patrick Wu: not just like north America, like I'm from Brazil. I am from Spain. I am from like all these other places just around the world that like, you know, I, I distinctly remember there's a couple of events where people are like tuning in from Israel at 2:30 AM their time.
It's, it's crazy to see how many people are willing to come to these events. And, you know, the Calgary UX meetup does run a whole bunch of different events. So I remember seeing events for like, how do you use the software more appropriately? How do you do design systems? How do you find a job? What do you think?
Like have you kind of taken a look to see kind of like which types of events are people more interested in or are they all just generally very well attended.
[00:21:03] Luis Berumen: That's a yeah. I can see a pattern when it comes to about a double sponsored workshops has had a, huge response. And, yeah, there'll be as a brand and also the, the speakers are very well positioned, so they're really, really great.
So, yeah, let's say this once. I know that there are going to be a heat. Also, anything that is related to career development works very well. And, yeah, I think that even though those numbers are normally pretty fantastical, because sometimes it's really important to place him in a way that allows for other conversations and also a yeah.
Having a particular sense of when some conversations need to happen. One, one thing that was happening at the beginning of the years that I've got, when we had these a yeah. W we had this combination of things, the winter term was ending, which normally is the season for winter blues, and also COVID was rampant and the economy was unbelievably fantastic. So, yeah, I was noticing quite a lot of desperation. Sad faces on around the community. Right? So in that sense, there, wasn't a start talking about the community, to start talking about why we need to be involved or one why we need to up, because we need to make a, to focus more on hope on creativity and time to get us out of those well, let's say thoughts that somehow we're circulating,
[00:22:47] Patrick Wu: Building community to support each other. Right. During, during really tough times, which I think you've been doing a really, really good job, with, with that. Recently, the Calgary UX meetup has also joined platform Calgary, is that correct? And, now that the platform innovation center is done mostly, mostly done at this point, what's in, what's in store for the future, for the meetup.
[00:23:09] Luis Berumen: Wow. Yeah, let's say you asked that question two months ago. I was going to tell you. Yeah, well, we're going to meet in person and platform is going to be our next big place where you are going to be able to. And we'll all gather and create these sorts of,spaces where we're never going to meet with the different at a community center and potentially get a stronger sort of relationships.
But eh, obviously COVID is still around and, yeah, we need to reassess the plan. The plan is still is the same. But the one that's going to happen. I think maybe, both whenever I think of a date, it sounds more like I'm guessing. Right. But yeah, the idea is the same, you know, you're part of a community and Platform amazing partner, and I'm just trying to assist and support on whatever they are. doing and ya, we'll work together, I think,
[00:24:17] Patrick Wu: I think if people are still finding the meetups and the events and the topics that you discuss really valuable each time, then why not keep doing it. Right. And then when we do have the ability to come meet up in person, that will be a different dynamic. because obviously when you're meeting in person, now you have to figure out kind of, what about all these other people who are outside of Calgary, who might not be able to make it, and then. How do you ensure that that's all accessible still
[00:24:41] Luis Berumen: Yeah, that was there were a couple of ideas that I bounced some, some, community members and, yeah, certainly the possibility of having maybe mixed media event, part physical part to be virtual is very attractive. Exactly. Yeah. Or in my, in, for example, let's say you make it in the in-person workshop.
And at the end, you make a beautiful presentation of what happened with the other option. So that what allows us to start thinking about very creatively about how to involve people from different places. How do we manage your sources and technology to really achieve all of the circumstances that were not used to.
But at the same time, it implies some more planning implies some more training because as soon as we changed the skew, people potentially could get lost. So we will need to find more, more community ambassadors. So more, a catalyst that will allows us to connect and keep people in the loop. But, yeah, it's sort of, for us, we're just waiting for it for the rest of the province and the work to be on the same page and to be healthy
[00:25:58] Patrick Wu: I mean, I think for a lot of people who are looking to get into user experience, design or design in general, The meetup is a great resource to do it. What kind of advice do you, do you have for people who are saying I'm interested in learning more about UX or I'm interested in pivoting my job into UX?
any, any kind of advice from either like the events that you like hosted or just from your own personal experience?
[00:26:19] Luis Berumen: Wow.
Yeah. Okay. Well, not many. that's an answer that, that's a question that I answer pretty much every even day, you know, there is quite a lot of people that we reach either from Calgary UX, or I'm also a mentor at the U.P. And also I do some mentorship at design life.
And I think that the most important part, ah is to understand what kind of experience do you want, you know, because quite a lot of people have the intuition that they can be great designers and they are creative and they're very talented and they're very smart and they can come from different backgrounds doesn't matter.
But I think it is very important. To do a bit of research on what do you think they're going to get out of being a UX designer? Because it's a tough job, you know, like not all the time you're going to be able to create meaningful experiences. UI interfaces can be challenging. You'd have to convince a lot of people all the time and yeah, you have to either find alignment or sometimes
Deal with the circumstances that maybe investing on UX is not going to be possible at the time and is sometimes frustrating and the things that most people do not really get to feel that once they until they're getting into, into the profession and I want to let them know that yes, it's a wonderful profession.
You will love it. I'm sure that a, if you have a inclination to make the world a better place. This is going to be the profession for you while at the same time. Yeah. It's going to be challenging and it's going to rely much more on your capabilities to influence people, even if you don't have a leadership role or a, well, structured is sort of for authority than let's say how good you are working on [???].
[00:28:22] Patrick Wu: Yeah. I mean, I didn't realize it until I kind of started doing this work. How much UX actually is not even working with the software team that much, but you're working. The sales product team a lot more. And, it's, it's all stakeholder engagement first and foremost. And then you get, you go into your like Figma or your XD, our boards, and try to like figure things out.
But before then it's actually a remarkable amount of planning and it's a lot of thinking. then sometimes there are just days where my brain is just completely fried. I don't know about you.
[00:28:54] Luis Berumen: Well, actually, yeah, not many Fridays Fridays. That's when my, my brain is toasted. I guess we should have this conversation, on a Monday instead of Friday, today is Friday yeah
yeah. So normally a Saturday I used to spend it, you know, lay down and completely deflated. And then on Sundays I start taking that more physical shape again. But, yeah, at the same time we need more designers, right. So I'm not going to scare away too many people. And just to let them know that.
They, the challenge us out there. It is such a wonderful profession and has so many opportunities to be explored that we still haven't really imagined. So if they are coming from any other background or they have any inclination this is still valid they just need to find a market place for that or a company that's looking for these kind of people.
[00:29:56] Patrick Wu: Yeah and I think, I think having more design maturity is definitely a lot of like something that I think a lot of companies can really benefit from. just having, and even though I think a lot of people still think of design as like, you know, logos and graphics and websites and stuff like that. I think design is that bigger thinking, thinking, brainstorming strategic almost,organization organizational strategy type thing that you need to put together sometimes.
And I think that is where a lot of our companies, even within Calgary would benefit a lot from people who are passionate and interested in design and are able to kind of come in with that, with that skill.
[00:30:34] Luis Berumen: Yeah. I couldn't agree more. I couldn't agree more. I think one of the biggest challenges that the city has is to take full advantage of the opportunities we have.
Now, there are many companies that have great technology, but they still haven't figured out for it to commercialize how to make it more user friendly or more available for a bigger audience, because they, they are very well at building things, but not very well, but not, they are not great at explaining it or making it accessible for, for a largest set of, So I think this is the pain that we can start working.
And also another challenge is that sometimes the designers need to start thinking as entrepreneurs, as investors, as the stake holders, and either become or taking a role like that, or a being able to empathize and have to understand what did they need from what their react in the way they react. Because sometimes, yeah.
W we are really focused on trying to push out ideas, but yeah, if there are not any, eh, there is not that common ground to actually allow these ideas to do grow. Then we are not going to have a really good time with time trying to get traction on those projects. Right. So, yeah, it needs to be challenging because those are the kinds of things that they don't teach you at school.
And it's not until you start seeing that your products are failing time over time. Once you start asking yourself, well, why I'm not getting buy in? Why not? Why this idea is not really holding any sort of water.
[00:32:16] Patrick Wu: Yeah, no, it's, it's a, it's almost like a little bit more business school stuff could be snuck into design school every so often right? Well, last couple of questions I want to ask you first off, what's been like the most challenging thing about what you're doing. What do you. Not like it could be something trivial. They, you know, do not like getting the amount of emails. It's just like, something trivial like that, or what's been really challenging for you.
[00:32:37] Luis Berumen: Wow. That's a good question. and this is something that you need to consider if you want to stay inside for a really long time. I think, I think , we design for communities so I, there's something that point where I will need to make a decision of what's going to be my, my next. What kind of experience I'm looking for the next 20 years.
And at some point, those are going to come as a revelation or more as a, as a set of options that I would take for my own life or for the life of my family. But I think right now, the biggest complexity that a designer to face once they are reaching out some maturity, how to see current problems that we have been working on for years and how to see them in a very fresh way, how to adopt a beginner's mind. And especially once you are facing some frustration, how not becoming [???]. And it's very easy to make a parody of somebody else's needs or somebody else's issues. But it's really hard to be able to withstand the kind of things the negative things that you can be feeling at that particular moment and not piling them up with all the experiences that are missing that are accumulating from, from the past. Right. So all the time that the client said "Make the logo bigger" and you're like if I make it bigger it's going to be the whole size of the mobile phone. But what can you say you know? This side of the business is that ya you have to breath in, breath out and just trying to see how you're we accommodated the logic.
So you get the possible outcome. Yeah. After you do that for awhile, it starts digging in something. It starts a road in some, some processes in mind. Right? So it's not about how do you remain in this space? without really losing your sense of humanity at some point.
[00:34:46] Patrick Wu: Great. And I'm sure there's going to be a lot of people who will be interested in chatting with you and then coming to check out some stuff. So hopefully for the rest of our listeners, they, we will see some of them at our, next to Calgary UX meetup. I'm, I'm so grateful that we got a chance to, talk today.
So thank you so much for your time.
If you would like to listen to this episode, visit: https://rainforestalberta.podbean.com/e/e0137/
Al Del Degan Hosts Diego Gomez[00:00:00] Al: Hey everybody. Welcome to the show. today my guest is, Diego Gomez. Diego is, one of the learners who's graduated from the InceptionU evolve program to pivot his career into becoming a full stack developer. Diego thanks for joining me
[00:00:17] DIego: Oh,thanks Al, I appreciate your time and having me on the show that takes a lot of your time as well.
[00:00:24] Al: Thanks.
Thanks very much So Diego, maybe you could give us a little bit of a background because you're a career pivoter right. So maybe you could talk about maybe a bit of your education and what life was like growing up, and then what you did for a living before you decided to pivot your career and how
[00:00:41] DIego: sure.
Thank you. well, I guess my career has been very,transitional and rocky always, I've never had sort of like,one thing that I wanted to. Until I finally found the coding. yeah, just growing up. I was always very, into maybe traveling entrepreneurship. I did a little bit of a program with the government of Ontario.
I'm originally, landed immigrant in Toronto. And, so, there, I had a program in which, the government helped me, have my own company for a little bit. from there a little bit of, labor, logistics, I was never into having a loan. I didn't have the opportunity to pay for my own studies and I just, me and the government, I didn't really, want to have that pressure on me.
So I pivoted towards logistics and forklifting and things like that. And in my off time, I would, do a little bit of YouTube coding and stuff like that. And just the. the time the, and wanting to travel, I decided to do a little bit of tree planting, experimenting with those sort of jobs where it's more independent and where it can develop skills on my own and gathering knowledge from different people as well.
as I traveled my own country, same time I came back into Calgary at some point. And now I do the coding, which I appreciate the government and your program and the InceptionU program, for, for a hosting, such an opportunity.
[00:02:01] Al: Excellent. Cool. when you were going through the program, what did you, what sort of, experience was it for you where you feeling like.
Super confident and everything was really going well. Or did you jump in and go, oh my God, what am I getting myself into? How was that experience?
The experience is sort of mixed on both of the things that you just mentioned. Because it was very exciting. It was very, I was very confident, sort of applying to it.
it's something that I always was interested in and wanted to do, but there was also that side of, nervousness fear going into it, because obviously there are people who have had a lot more time to look at this stuff. Looking back and never even heard of the, Imposter syndrome that everybody talks about.
[00:02:46] Al: And, but I certainly felt it just doing know there was a name for it. and now the experience through it made me realize that, there's a lot of things that not only I can achieve as somebody that you know, has just my basic high school, but was somebody who's got a lot already going on. Completely pivot into something that seems unreachable at some point, but yeah, just both, feelings, I think made my experience very, like a roller coaster sort of thing.
Let's dig into that a little bit because you know, sometimes there's this debate and I was just on LinkedIn live, yesterday, or, sorry, the day before yesterday with regards to this concept. of university degree in computer science versus, you know, a bootcamp like InceptionU. And one of the things that, that I had mentioned kind of was that.
Difference in not only in timeframe, six months versus four years, but also the difference in cost in your case, there was a government funded program. So there was no cost to you other than your time versus university. You're looking at, you know, $50,000 plus. And so someone in your position, the situation you were in, in life , you wouldn't have been able to do university, even if you really, really wanted to write like.
You know, you might've been able to do something through student loans or something, but you would have been having a huge burden of debt in that timeframe, plus four years of your life where you can't really earn an income. And you're, you're stuck just getting through the degree. So I guess in, you know, further to my discussion on LinkedIn live, there's also these situations like yourself, you must be pretty grateful that the, this program was available for you and the government was able to fund it because now you have.
Basically the same opportunity as somebody who came out of university, you know, within reason I'm not, I'm not going to split hairs there, but you both would be applying for junior level jobs in the same place. what are your thoughts on that?
[00:04:46] DIego: Yeah, I think looking back on all these things and now being involved in these discussions, right.
Because I never. I thought of a career where you could have such discussion, right? Like if you are going to be a doctor, which obviously we can't really compare, but at the same time, most of these careers, you really need to have these, preset, trajectory. I I'd say, or I would call it. And for these, I, I find them really interesting where you can be starting from zero, have no knowledge, have nothing.
Be able to compare yourself to somebody that, as you just said, like you could go through four years of university and at least to be able to compare yourself to it. Maybe, maybe, sure. This person has a little bit more intriguing and detailed knowledge of certain things, but practically we're at a same similar level.
So I can, I really appreciate that. And as I mentioned, I think I've been somebody who has always looked for this sort of support from the government and agencies, because not only they're there for you to, to, to use and. and the advantage of, but at the same time, you're there for a reason. And I feel like they're there for the opportunity.
Right. and we were not using them. Were we them? And since high school, I've always been more of a practical person. I appreciate in Canada, we have a co-op programs and that's how I got out of high school in grade ten. I just went and did my co-op, through my last semester of high school and created great relationships with my employers.
then I did my program with the government of Ontario, where they also funded, my summer company, which was a skateboard company. And I was very grateful for that. I was 18 at the time and I did it all on my own. And then later on my forklift licenses and things like that, I also did it through the government.
[00:06:33] DIego: So, throughout this COVID-19 thing where I have been laid off, even prior to COVID-19, I was already looking into, what am I going to do? I'm already. 26 now, what am I asking you? Going into like, you know, you always compare yourself and your life in in the, InceptionU program was a very big not to compare yourself to others, but it's a very difficult thing to do, right?
Mostly in social media. You just, that we're in right now. So I really thought that the opportunity given here was amazing. This is for people like me. Rednecks in a way towards, and loans and things like that. But at the same time, for people who are really pivoted, people who have been doing something for 30 years and, and really need a new opportunity.
And I really appreciate the government people, it's additions like InceptionU are really take it upon themselves to, to carry on the next generation.
[00:07:26] Al: Cool well-put and, and I think that the funding and that really helps make level the playing field for people who want to get into, you know, a new career field, like this.
I mean, certainly you weren't sitting around on the couch, drinking beer and playing video games, your whole life. Like you actually been out doing stuff. It's just like, you are limited to the stuff that you could do because of the, the financial situation and your immigration and all those sorts of things.
But it's cool because now you're in, you know, like you said, you're, you're somewhere close to equal playing field with other people who are just starting the career as a software developers. And, you know, five years from now, you could be, you know, a senior developer for some company making a whole lot of money.
And, and that's, that's a really great opportunity, I think.
[00:08:14] DIego: Yeah.
It not only humbles me, but it makes me very excited. So, yeah. You made it feel very,
[00:08:21] Al: right on what, what would you say Diego to companies that are looking to hire new developers? Traditionally, they looked for kind of intermediate to senior level developers with the, with the thought that they could, you know, hit the ground running and they wouldn't have to spend too much time babysitting them or whatever with, with yourself, but not only yourself, but with other people that you went to through the program with what do you have to offer to a company who might, who might consider maybe looking at somebody with a little bit newer, greener experience.
[00:08:55] DIego: I feel like,
the biggest thing would be, perspective, a different plan perspective sometimes, comes into a big play in no matter if it's a bigger large or a small company. cause I feel like. the the sort of things that I've been through and the sort of things that I've learned or haven't learned, or didn't pick up also bringing into a lot of things that I can develop or bringing to the table sort of in maybe not just developing but ideas.
because as we've talked throughout the time to. Have different experiences. We all have general and different understandings of things. And when we come together, as soon as these, experiences and talks and discussions is when we actually develop these, innovation and ideas that really bring data problems that we want to solve in society or the problems that we want to, bring upon us.
That really, really developed. So I really appreciate those things. I really appreciate those make series of knowledge and, and perspectives. I'm a chess player and, by since an early age, and the thought is, you know, six hour games, get up, look around. Go up on the opposite side and look at your opponent's view and how can you play as the opposite and kind of play yourself.
[00:10:10] DIego: So, it's always great to have different perspectives. That's how I
[00:10:14] Al: nicely put that's really, really cool. So what is, what's the future for Diego look like in your mind? What, what are you thinking about now doing now?
[00:10:23] DIego: Well, right now, I just feel like I'm getting. we're a hands-on experience on a company.
who would love to have to pportunity to share my experience, gain experience, grow. And at the same time, for me, it's always been, a big thing, the entrepreneurship. So hopefully in the future, I can actually create a business and, opportunities for other people as well.
[00:10:44] Al: That's that's
a good attitude.
Fantastic. Okay. Well, is there anything else you'd like to, Talk about before we wrap this up. It's you know, obviously the, the concepts that we talked about here, where we're talking about, you know, an opportunity for anybody to get into the field of computers and become programmers. We talked about your journey.
We talked about companies taking a look at people who are fresh out of these programs is, is a good idea. Is there anything else you think we should
[00:11:13] DIego: mention? I feel we should mention that. distress and pressure that people now carry on everyday. We kept career pivoting or staying, or, you know, all these pressures that we have today are, I think software development are brings along the entrepreneurship and the freedom feeling to it.
in a sense, obviously we have different perspectives of all these things, but I would like to say. We need to slow down a little bit on my own, our stress under pressure and just loop back and see and see what really is important to us. What's really important to come forward in. Really make them worth, what's going to happen, whether it is, you know, working where he's having a business, where he is traveling, just make the best of it.
[00:12:00] DIego: And, and yeah, that's, that's all I got to say.
[00:12:03] Al: Right. That's that's actually a really good point. I think a lot of people they're focused so much on getting through work so that they can have freedom when they retire. And I know people in my own life who their focus for their entire life was make money, put it away, pay everything off and then be free when I retire and now they're retired and they're having problems with their health and they're not able to do all the things that they wish they could do.
There's probably a really good. Middle ground where you're focusing on today and enjoying today, but also keeping an eye out and putting something aside and focusing a bit on what the future is going to look like without being all, all one or all of the other. That's a really, really valid point. And I think you have a real euphemistic approach to, to life.
I think I can, I can see you traveling and really enjoying yourself and being out there in the world and just absorbing it all in and then bearing down and getting the, getting the job done because it needs to get done. You got, you got a nice little mix in the middle there.
[00:13:14] DIego: Yeah. Well, on a side note, since we're there, I did a biking trip, across Ontario, on the Trans-Canada trail from Toronto to Calgary.
And that was just a trek and it was just amazing to get to know my backyard and get to know other people that are out there and these communities. And it was just amazing how, what you're saying is amazing because a lot of these people. older people, right? Didn't really have the opportunity to do these things.
Or they did do this back in the day. And we were just pulling people behind this, like how I want to come with you. I want to do this thing. I just don't have the time or, you know, whatever it is that tie us to whatever it is. And, and just having that opportunity to, to have that time where a lot of people don't have these opportunities, you really makes a difference in how you can look at things once you were back in society, I guess.
[00:14:04] Al: Right, right, right. How long did that trip take you?
[00:14:07] DIego: It was a whole summer three months.
[00:14:08] Al: Oh, wow. Three months.
[00:14:11] DIego: Yeah. It's just, it's actual backpacking and it was pretty, pretty cool.
[00:14:15] Al: Nice. That's exciting. And would you do it again?
[00:14:19] DIego: I would, I would just plan it a little bit better.
That was a week's worth of planning and me and my friends just kind of. took ourselves to MEC, bought a couple of things and it just hit the road,
[00:14:33] Al: living life on the edge.
[00:14:35] DIego: It's young. And it's like, actually at that time I had enter, I kind of betrayed myself when I went into a program there for game development, did it for a month.
And I just, I had to go back on my own, but I can't take this money. I can't take this pressure and ended up traveling the world. And now I'm here. So. It's kind of funny how to, how the world ends up bringing you to those things that interests you. And at the end of the day, you can't force it.
[00:15:02] Al: Yeah. A hundred percent.
And I'm sure you'll remember at the beginning of the InceptionU program, there was a lot of focus on who you are and what you actually want to be when you grow up. And, that. Probably a pretty eyeopening for, for yourself and the rest of the people who took the program. I think there's a lot of programs out there that, that, that you can learn new skills, but sometimes taking a bit of a step back and figuring out you know who you are and where you want to go is, is really a valuable, valuable for sure.
[00:15:34] DIego: I agree. 100%.
[00:15:37] Al: Well, Diego, thank you so much for being on the, on the show. I really appreciate it. And, you know, best of luck to you and we're going to have Diego's LinkedIn link in the show notes. So if you're looking for a new developer, who's got some mad skills and a lot of passion for software.
you definitely want to talk to Diego. He's a smart kid. I can only say kid cause I'm an old fart, but
[00:16:05] Al: thanks so much. anyway, have a, have a wonderful rest of your day Diego and listeners tune in next week for another episode of the leaders, innovators, and big ideas podcast. Thanks so much, ciao for now.
If you would like to listen to this episode please visit: https://rainforestalberta.podbean.com/e/e0136/
[00:00:00] Wunmi: Hi, my name is Wunmi Adekanmbi and I'll be your host today on the inference podcast. My guest on the show today is Carrie Harmer. Carrie is a design evangelist with a passion for social cultural and environmental engagement and community development. She employs design strategies to lead applied research and innovation as a product developer entrepreneurial facilitator, educator unchanged.
the show. Carrie,
[00:00:30] Kerry: thank you so much for having me Wunmi.
[00:00:32] Wunmi: Yeah. I'm so glad you were able to join us on this show. let, let's just, let's meet you, Carrie. How, what's your story? How did you come to be the design guru? What's your journey into design?
[00:00:45] Kerry: That's a really good question. I think I've always had a design mindset. and I think it came from my, from my family, from my background. So my, my grandfather and my father were very design minded or they weren't designers, but, they just had that kind of systems thinking the way that designers think. And I don't think I realized that until I really studied design and started to understand that design is really kind of a mindset and they had that mindset.
[00:01:13] Kerry: And I think that's why I was so drawn to design. I get bored really easily. And I love making things and love the diversity that design brings and, and gives me in my life. Yeah. I just love all the different perspectives that you get with design and the different opportunities that are. I went to school and did, design art at Concordia university of Montreal, which is a great design city.
And I really, really got to immerse myself in all kinds of design in that program, but it was very much, very much about the thinking about design rather than, you know, really skills based in one particular type of design. And so that's what I think led me to becoming. The kind of the design thinker that I am.
I went to, I did grad school. I worked in design for a while in Montreal, and then I did grad school at the U of A where I did my master's in industrial design. And that was framed within sustainability. and I really looked at the emotional attachment that we have really looking at and looking into obsolescence and finding ways for us as designers to really address that issue because of the impact that it has on our environment.
And then I became an editor. And I think that's just, that's the piece around being a design evangelist is if you've got a passion for design and especially sustainability and, and, kind of ethical practices and design then educating is, is a great way to do that is to, is to really engage in those conversations.
And I think, to make a difference,
[00:02:41] Wunmi: what has changed in terms of. The recent focus that has been on in the past few years as been a major focus on design, the design process, design thinking. And I mean, you had your education a lot of years ago and things have changed right now. There seems to be more attention to it. What do you think changed? What's brought that about?
[00:03:02] Kerry: I think, what's happened is that, you know, it was almost as if design had a promotional problem. Often when I tell people that I'm an industrial designer, people don't know. What that is. They think I designed factories. I think design just wasn't really well understood.
But now today, as we, as we've seen the growth, I mean, design thinking, isn't a new thing. You know, people have been talking about it since the sixties and, and understanding the design process and the way the designers think and what it is that they do. But I think in, you know, in the last decade or so 15 years, we've really started to find other disciplines accessing design and understanding the value of the design process and understanding that the value of having designers at the table.
And that's great because design, I think is very much. Transdisciplinary. And I think the design thinking process is very transdisciplinary. I did some research into that at the UofC, in the PhD program, really looking at how transdisciplinary design thinking is as a methodology for getting a number of people, different people with different expertise around the table to solve complex problems.
The exposure that design thinking has given the design industry is really great because it's helping people to understand that. I think we're all designers because. Since the adult we've been making tools. and so we've been designing things to make our lives better. And I think we're just being much more intentional about recognizing that now we've, we've put a name to it.
[00:04:33] Wunmi: And for, in terms of innovation, So many economies are in transition and then pivots into adapt the, the economy, the skills what's, they're focusing on in light of environmental sustainability climate change. So there's innovation of ways of, you know, we rethink how we solve problems and design thinking as being a major part of how many programs and products have been developed these days.
So if you could just share some thoughts on. What do you think is enroll of design thinking in innovation
[00:05:11] Kerry: design thinking is, has a huge role in innovation, particularly the design thinking process and design methodologies. And I think, you know, when you design something all the time, you're, you are innovating.
Designers are always looking for those new opportunities for holes to fill and for needs that are unmet. That's what designers do right from the get go. They really are those problem identifiers. And that's part of the design thinking processes to really understand the problems that that we're being faced with.
And there are complex, there, there are more complex than ever today, and they're more multidisciplinary and, and I think that designers. Have a have an understanding because they're always designing for people. People are always at the center of the design process and, you know, the, the foundation of the, of the design thinking process is this empathy and this understanding of users design is a process that is always user centered
and some people might argue with me, but I think it depends on, on kind of the designer that you all, but we're always thinking about the user and how they're going to interact with whatever it is that we're creating with us, a product, a service, a system, or an experience. And so designers are, are comfortable with testing things out with, with making prototypes, with coming up with a bunch of different ideas,
[00:06:34] Wunmi: bedrock of innovation, right?
[00:06:36] Kerry: It is. Yeah, it really is. And it's that, that comfort with just feeling free to fail. Feeling free to experiment and, and safe, feeling safe in that, which is, is very much the, the experience that designers have. That's what we do is we say, well, I don't know, let's try this. Here's a thing that I'd like to try.
And we're used to collaborating with, with others, with other designers as part of teams, but we're also really used to getting. The specialized knowledge that we need. We're used to reaching out to other people to get expertise. We're kind of trained in understanding what the needs might be and what questions people might have in that process.
And so, you know, we were used to. Figuring out and trying to understand people were used to coming up with a variety of different ideas, to a problem that we've dug deep in an and kind of looked underneath the rocks and then were used to prototyping and testing out things. And we're okay with getting it wrong because that just gives us more information to feed back into that process when we, when we're testing out those, those prototypes.
So I think in a lot of ways, the design thinking process is the innovation process.
[00:07:49] Wunmi: Absolutely. I totally agree. And I like to think about design thinking as very, very versatile, that can be applied to almost every aspect of life actually. So we talk about service design, which in which you include the design process in providing services, maybe as a government to, the community or something like that.
And then there's also in terms of product development, of course. You want to be sure your product is meeting a specific need in the market. Recently, I, I start to think has even individuals can apply the design thinking process. Like how do I solve in terms of my career development? How do I solve the problem that unemployment, perhaps job seekers can even use that process.
to identify what the need in the market is and how they can solve the problem of the employer or the problem of the market, the larger market. And that kind of just creates this context where you can design yourself, design your career designers have as a product to the world. What do you think about that?
[00:08:58] Kerry: Absolutely. Yeah, there's there's a book called designing your work life, which I believe is put out. by some Stanford professors. I think they wrote for the first book they wrote was design designing your life or design your life. And then the next one was designed your work life. And it's absolutely that.
Yeah, you can, you could apply the design thinking process to any problem that you're facing, whether it's okay. What am I going to think about with trying to get my baby to sleep? You know, so let's empathize with what the baby needs and what is the actual problem? Well, the problem is, is not that the baby needs to get to see the problem is that I need to sleep.
Right. And so really kind of looking at, at problems in different ways, the way that the design thinkers do is really powerful because it gets you to kind of say, oh, wait a minute. What I thought was the problem is not actually the problem. You know, there's really concrete methodologies for actually digging, digging down underneath to find out.
What it is that you actually need to be thinking about in terms of creating ideas for, and I I've done this with, with a few different post-secondary institutions as, in a consulting role. And one I did at bow valley college was really great because I had a student services. And so they were thinking about, well, what do our students need?
Really investigating what it is to improve the student experience. So design thinking process can absolutely, it can, it can create a new couch or it can create a new experience for students or it can get your baby to sleep, or it can build your career. You know, it really is like, what problems are we faced with and how do we, how do we really dig into that and come up with some ideas and this such great strategies.
Now there's so many different strategies and methods for all of them. Different processes along the way in the design thinking approach that you see that you can just, if one doesn't work, there's another one to try. And there's, there's so many people doing really great work in this area that I get very excited about it.
And I think once you're, when you're working in the design thinking field, and once you start to think about it and do it, you just naturally apply it to everything in your life.
[00:11:08] Wunmi: Yes.
I totally agree with that. right now you'll work with Mount Royal university and, yeah, maker studio specialist. What does that mean?
[00:11:19] Kerry: Yeah. So it's a great question. So in the library at Mount Royal university, we have a suite of really innovative spaces that support teaching and learning on campus, and also facilitate research into teaching and learning. And so the maker studio is one of those spaces. It's a space on the main floor that has tools and technologies for making.
Mostly for rapid prototyping. So we have 3d printers, laser cutter, digital and sewing machines. We have CNC machines, 3d scanners, all kinds of electronics and robotics equipment. And we have a team of experts and specialists, who can support those tools and technologies to be integrated into curriculum.
So we help students really build their. technological literacy is at the same time as being innovative in the way that they're thinking about the content that has been delivered in their courses. So we worked, I worked directly with faculty to help them to come up with new projects, that help achieve the learning outcomes for different kinds of courses, all across campus, whether that is in nursing or child studies or education or entrepreneurship and innovation, social innovation.
We've done math classes. We've been computer science classes, all kinds of, all kinds of diverse subjects are using the design thinking process that basically guides everything that we do in the maker studio to really enhance students' experiences. And what we're seeing is that students are really having these.
Transformational experiences by being creative in the classroom.
[00:12:55] Wunmi: Wow. I wish I had that when I was a student.
[00:12:58] Kerry: Yeah. It's really interesting because the students get challenged in different ways. They'll often come into the space thinking that they they're not creative and computers hate them. And then what happens is they leave with, or without an artifact, depending on what the project is.
But what they do live with is, an enhanced creative capacity. They know that they can be creative thinkers now, and there, they don't think of themselves as not creative anymore. And they also leave with a confidence in technology that perhaps used to scare them. That now they've learned one kind of technology or a few different technologies in the space, and now they're leaving with a confidence to, to face other technologies.
They're not afraid of it anymore.
[00:13:42] Wunmi: Umm hmm and I know your studio, it's very, very user friendly. I had my two daughters come there to point if you remember that, and they had a lot of fun, just, you know, creating and making, all kinds of things out of nothing. Is that still, is this still open to the public? Because I know. The mic has to do was open to the public.
That's why I was able to bring in my daughters about now
[00:14:05] Kerry: The space is still open to the public, but we really prioritize our students we've become quite popular on campus. And so we're really quite busy with coursework now. And so we don't really have as much access. We don't really, we can't really offer as much access to the general public as we, as we used to.
Just because we tend to be super busy with our, with our students. Now, as we've returned back to campus, we've got lots of courses and students that are doing coursework. And so we have to give them priority to make sure that they can achieve the learning outcomes of their projects and meet their deadlines.
But we do all of the workshops that we offer. And our website has, all kinds of resources that often we get inquiries from the public and we'll direct them to the resources that we have on the website. We have a YouTube channel with all kinds of videos on how to use the technology that we have.
That's a beautiful thing that came out of the pandemic and working from home is that we were able to create all these videos. And so there are so many resources on the website now that, we really can direct people just to, to those, to do the learning. And, and, and it really helps our students too, because they can learn outside of our regular hours.
And as we know, students often are, are doing their homework at 11 o'clock at night. And the maker studio isn't open at 11 o'clock at night, but they can still learn from the maker studio at whatever time they want to work,
[00:15:27] Wunmi: Does the maker studio have it's on separate website or is it still on the Mount Royal website?
[00:15:32] Kerry: So still on the Mount Royal website and it's part of the library website.
So you can go to the library website from Mount Royal and under spaces and technology. You'll find the maker studio, and there's all kinds of resources there. People can also make consultation meetings with our team. If they have specific projects that they want to, want to learn about. Sometimes we get emails from folk
who are asking for, you know, for particular information. And we're very tied into the creative community in Calgary. And so often we refer people to, either our community Makerspace like fuse 33 or other manufacturing facilities. So for 3d printing, for example, maybe shape ways. So we've got lots of other resources that we can connect people to.
We're really, we're really a hub in the city of that kind of knowledge. And that's why we belong in the library.
[00:16:19] Wunmi: Yes. I was just getting into that. Actually I know a Mount Royal university has an internal innovation ecosystem of sorts. And so I was wondering how exactly does that work. Within Mount Royal university.
And how was, what's your face? What's your contact with the rest of the larger innovation community in Calgary?
[00:16:41] Kerry: Yeah. So Mount Royal has a, really, a really vibrant, innovation ecosystem. And we've actually done a bit of work to really map out what that looks like and identified some students in the last year.
that we interviewed to find out what their innovation journey was. And we did a campaign with Avenue in the summer and have a, a website that actually highlights a number of students who we really think of as innovators. And we've got all these, obviously we've got curriculum, so we have a social innovation minor.
[00:17:12] Kerry: We've got innovation courses on creativity and entrepreneurship courses and design thinking is really embedded throughout the campus facilitated, I would say, in a large part by the maker studio and I actually just last week gave a paper with Dr. Katherine Pearl at, the international social innovation research conference in Milan about.
How we're using design thinking to facilitate social innovation mindsets on campus. And we had examples of, of ways that we've done that through a variety of different initiatives or spaces or experts that are on campus, places and events that happen. And the, and there, they might be tied specifically to a particular faculty or program or discipline, like for example, the center for psychological innovation or the sea and supply chain analytics lab, or the health simulation lab in nursing.
So we've got, you know, places like that. We've also got the Trico Changemakers studio, which is a social innovation and collaboration space that does all kinds of interfaces with the community. And I'm sure I'm sure your listeners are probably well familiar with that space. And of course, we've got the institutes on campus as well.
So the Institute for community prosperity, environmental sustainability, the Ms. DACA's research Institute and the center for community disaster research. And of course the center for innovation and entrepreneurship under the direction of, Ray DePaul, which hosts innovation and social innovation sprint.
every semester, even in the summer for students where they can take part in a month long sprint and really hone their innovation and entrepreneurship skills. And then they can lead into launchpad, which is kind of an eight week entrepreneurial incubator, where they can take those ideas that they've come up with perhaps in the sprint or perhaps where if they were making prototypes in the maker studio, or even in curriculum, we've worked with students who have come up with concepts and new innovations as part of a collaboration with the maker studio and, and, coursework.
[00:19:18] Kerry: And then they'll go to launch pad and pitch those ideas. And get support from community partners, for things like legal services or design services, things that they need to be able to really launch their businesses.
[00:19:30] Wunmi: That's really encouraging and it's encouraging to see. post-secondary institutions taking active roles in community development and innovation, you know, it's no longer just go through university to learn.
And then that's it. We are focusing on the next set of students and people just, you know, the, the mentality of I'm just going to learn what I will now apply in the workforce. Now students can graduate. as entrepreneurs. Already set on their careers that is very exciting to see. And it's not just Mount Royal university, I think Alberta is very blessed to have this innovative post-secondary institutions.
[00:20:10] Kerry: That's right. And, and I think that, you know, the, kind of the innovation that happens in the city, that there's so many generous community partners in this city who really are open to working with students. And so there's never. There's never a difficulty for us to be able to reach out to community partners and involve them in any of the initiatives that were, that were running on campus.
And so I do feel that kind of the doors to the university are always open for people to come in and participate. And, and we're really lucky to have so many, so many people who support our students in that journey. That you're right when our students graduate, whether they're graduating from business or not, they graduate with those innovation mindsets.
They graduate with an entrepreneurial mindset and an opportunities and a community that is, is really opening their arms to help them and support them through this process.
[00:21:04] Wunmi: I'm excited for the times we we're in not just in Alberta, but it's, there's just this energy in the air where you just believe so many things are possible.
And just being in that space where, you know, there are communities you can turn to, even when your post-secondary institution is like, an innovation hub. I think that's very, very, encouraging and empowering.
[00:21:28] Kerry: I think so. I mean, Mount Royal university is an, ashoka designated changemaker university.
There's this energy on campus where, where the students are really empowered to make a difference. And to seek opportunities to have an, an impact on making the world a better place. And that's, I think what I really enjoy about Mount Royal is that the students do you feel empowered? They feel supported. And there's so many opportunities for students to, to participate in those extracurricular activities that really help them to, to bridge that gap between the university and industry and the community outside of campus.
[00:22:08] Wunmi: Do you think we need more people making a career out of. The design process design thinking, because right now, like we mentioned where you discussed earlier, it's now at the forefronts, you're having to apply design thinking to most of the things we're already doing. So do we think we need more people in that field?
And if we do, what path might people do?
[00:22:30] Kerry: That's a great question. I think we do, but then I really believe in the power of design to make meaningful change everything in our world is designed. And so what that means is that we can redesign things. I'm really enjoying right now, the work that the creative reaction lab is doing, where they're, looking at redesign for, for justice.
And so there's so much possibility for innovation designers and for innovation design to. Make the world, what we want it to be and to shift us in a, a more sustainable and a more equitable direction. And do I think there's more room for all kinds of designers? Absolutely. Absolutely. And how do people access this space?
Well, I think we're all designers and we all come at, come at our disciplines with, with some kind of a design approach. does it mean that we can 3d model and object and, you know, or a product not necessarily doesn't mean that we can do an amazing graphic design or a design, a building or a space?
Not necessarily, but that creative mindset I think, is, is part of being a human being. And so I think there's, there's so much possibility for design to, to be part of everybody's toolkit. And so that's that, that is what, what I do in my position, both as, as the maker studio specialist, but also I'm teaching two classes.
This academic year as well. I'm teaching social intro to social innovation, and I'm also teaching the civic innovation course and, and both of those courses really deal with human centered design. And so I think that that design can be embedded in all of the disciplines. And I think anybody can access that.
Like, I'm really excited about innovation design and innovation designers, and if you're not familiar with that as a term, the moment in Toronto on their website actually have a really nice description of, of what an innovation designer is and I think if people are interested in, in getting into that field, you'll see that there is a value in every single discipline.
And that nobody has all of the skills , and they have this really nice map that you can map your yourself onto that allows you to be able to see, okay, I've got strengths in this, but I don't have strengths in that. And the beauty of that is that then you can kind of start to partner yourself with people who have the strengths that you don't have, or if you're just entering into this field, you can say, okay, w what's really interesting to me.
Oh, I've got some of that skill I could build. I could build that up. And the work that they're doing is fantastic. Really interesting work also. I mean, if we're thinking about locally, I think we're really starting to see a growth in that area, in the innovation design field. And so you can look at what J five are doing in Calgary, or even the city of Calgary's innovation lab.
And see what they're doing. And there there's many more in Alberta as well of folk who are really using design based approaches to innovation.
[00:25:36] Wunmi: So because it was already embedded in so many other disciplines, you don't think it's necessary to major in design as a discipline.
[00:25:45] Kerry: I think everybody can take from design and certainly employ that into, the, the work that they're doing.
And, everyone could add a little bit of design to their toolkit, but certainly we, we still do need that expertise. We need designers, we need more designers at the table. We need more designers in, in every industry because of the way that designers think and to be able to facilitate because for some people.
And I see that in my, in my day-to-day work for some people. Design is intimidating. And they don't think of themselves as designers. And so I think we need the people for whom design is, is a natural ability or the people who have developed that expertise to be able to facilitate others to come along because it's, it's not easy for everyone.
But, you know, if you've got, if you've got the skills as a, as a designer, then you can, you can bring people along in that process and designers who are trained in that are all very much trained in, in co-design as well. What we refer to is having people participate in the design process. So we need both.
We need designed to be everywhere. I think we need design expertise. but we also need a little bit of design in everybody's toolbox
[00:27:04] Wunmi: on a lighter note, you did say design is a mindset and it kind of permeates every aspect of your life. So what's the most mundane thing that you've had to, that you applied the design process to in your life.
[00:27:20] Kerry: One example I always use with, with students who don't think that they're creative. I explained to them that well, every time you make a meal, You design it, you might follow somebody else's design. That is the recipe, but you choose how you put it on the plate, right? So you might have, I don't know, three different things that you're putting on your plate, maybe your burrito and some rice and the salad, but you don't just dump it all in the middle of a bowl and say, there you go.
Or, you know, or I'll put it in three different plates or maybe you do, maybe you do it differently, but everybody's making a choice and they're designing what that plate looks like. To make it appealing for the person that they're, that they're cooking for or for yourself. So that then it's the way that you want it with the sauce on the top or this also on the side.
Right? So we're always making design decisions in everything that we do everyday. We get dressed, we're making design decisions. As to, you know, okay, how am I going to compose this outfit today? So those are the mundane things, just eating and dressing. And, you know, how do you design your sleep cycle?
You know, the, those basic things that they're, they are very mundane. but it might be also, I, I make a lot of clothes. I do a lot of sewing, so it might also be that I'm going to design my outfit and make it, and then I'm going to wear it. Tomorrow's. It can be a little bit more complex or it can be super simple that, you know, it's the pandemic and I'm wearing my leggings again.
[00:28:49] Wunmi: Right. This has been absolutely refreshing. And just the last, now like to ask. What's not on your LinkedIn profile. What's interesting thing. Is, is there about you that we can't find on your LinkedIn profile?
[00:29:03] Kerry: Oh, do I have to share those things here?
So I think one thing that's not really on my LinkedIn profile is that I actually worked in the music industry for 10 years. before I became a designer. And so I'm always, you know, in that creative field. but music is very much a passion of mine and I love live music and I've missed it so much over the last year and a half.
Yeah. And sometimes people don't expect me to listen to heavy metal, but I do. I listened to lots of other music too. I I've actually through the pandemic and, and working at home I've really i'm really enjoying, some of the new classical music. So yeah, my musical tastes are,
[00:29:47] Wunmi: That's great. Thank you so much for joining us.
[00:29:50] Kerry: Thanks for inviting.