Behind UX and SAP Design: Vancouver
SAP is a global company and the scope of our design teams reaches far and wide. In our Behind UX and SAP Design series, we home in on some of our locations and give a glimpse into the working and cultural life there. Today, it’s about Vancouver, Canada!
Vancouver is a thriving city on the southern west coast of Canada. It is known for its gorgeous landscapes and lively food scene. SAP has a great office located out of Vancouver including its three employees Keith, a Product Manager for SAP Fiori, Ezequiel, a UX designer for the SAP Analytics Cloud, and Sarah who is the Head of UX for Augmented BI, Planning and Platform. They shared a bit about their work at SAP and some of Vancouver highlights.
A Little Bit of Background
Roles in UX are enriched by attracting people from a range of backgrounds. Ezequiel majored in information design, which is “All about how to deliver the right message to the right audience, or how to design structured information, instructions, ideas, and concepts and make them tangible and understandable for audiences.” He freelanced for a few years before he came across SAP after hearing via a personal connection that SAP had opportunities in his field. “It sounded challenging and cutting edge, they were offering work in data, analytics, and visualizations and at that time that wasn’t available everywhere. I wanted to get into that, and I fit the bill I guess!”
Keith was born in Germany and moved to California where he grew up, attending college in Northern California. He worked for Business Objects in Portland, just across the river from Vancouver, and after it was bought by SAP, he worked out of Paris for five years, engineering globally. He realized however, “Engineering management stuff isn’t as much fun as really understanding how we should be better solving problems. I wanted to become an individual contributor, and that’s when I went to the SAP AppHaus and started working with these brilliant talented designers. My perspective really changed there.” When offered the chance to move back to the US, Keith chose instead to head to Vancouver.
Sarah studied Interactive Arts in college and applied for a job in UX despite the field being relatively new, and undefined at the time. “It was fantastic because it was both creative and very analytical – it turned out it was kind of my jam!” She also teaches UX at BrainStation, a digital skills training center in Vancouver where she tells her students “Even though UX is a creative field, it is also closely rooted in a science-based process. You start with a hypothesis, collect research, and create a solution that ultimately proves or disproves your original assumptions .” To her, the work feels a lot more measurable than some of what she did in school or as a freelance designer.
UX Design – the Sum of Many Parts
As shown, UX is not only characterized by the final product created but also by the individually taken journey. Ezequiel enjoys UX because finding an answer and creating a design always feels like a physical accomplishment for him. “In UX design, we’re always juggling so many different stakeholders, especially between the end user and the different development teams, engineers, managers, and product experts.” With that in mind, UX is always fresh as well as exciting and a challenge that keeps evolving. For Sarah, UX is a unique challenge because “It’s a beautiful combination of creativity and science, design processes and theory, with user testing and research. Keeping the balance of this combination takes intentionality and discipline, whilst always remaining user centered.” Keith adds that “For me, it’s really about the solutions that we’re building and whether we are building the right solution. We’re not necessarily always changing lives, but we are making the lives of our customers and users better with our solutions. And that’s directly observable.” All three individuals agreed that a huge appeal of UX was the challenge but also having work that makes an impact and improves one’s daily productivity. According to Ezequiel, a successful design is “When the user is able to make it from beginning to end without feeling anxious or feeling confused, or without having to look things up”. Solutions should be intuitive, and the user should be able to complete tasks easily which should increase productivity.
The Daily Grind
The daily work life of all three of the individuals seems to begin pretty early in the morning. Sarah rolls into her first calls usually at around 6:30 am. Since her role is global, she speaks to all the sites she manages in the morning. “Starting early means leaving early – so when I can, I try to leave the office around 3 or 4 to maintain a healthy balance,” she comments. Ezequiel has a very similar schedule and his normal workday usually starts with a few calls in the morning to align with other designers and stakeholders on virtual projects. Following his morning calls, his day is composed of individual work at his desk and other meetings. Keith mentions that his calls start at 6am and he usually does work with customer engagement such as escalations, ASUG support and UX product in/out-bound activities. Keith, Ezequiel, and Sarah all agree, that conversing and meeting with colleagues is essential to working in UX design. Since SAP is a global company, the days start early and sometimes end late depending on the different schedules and locations.
Let Vancouver Connect you to Nature and Food
Vancouver is known for its nature and residents seem to enjoy spending time outside. Ezequiel mentions that Vancouver is centrally located and he likes to go for hikes because the mountains are very close. “It is a city where you can go for a hike in the morning and go to the beach in the afternoon.” Additionally, Vancouver is known for its wonderful food and wine selection. A huge destination for any foodie looking for a good bite. Keith refers to the great and robust wine region called Fraser Valley here, which is about two hours away by drive. There is a ton to choose from in Vancouver and Ezequiel exclaims that “There’s a lot of great food here, especially Asian food.” So, whether you are spending your time outside in nature or grabbing a bite to eat, there is always something fun and exciting to do in Vancouver.
A huge thanks to Keith, Ezequiel, and Sarah for all your support and help.
This story was written by Elizabeth Hoo and Victoria Thomas.