In our series #WomanPower in IT, it’s time for our UX queen and Strong Women in IT winner (polish report from 2023) – Patrycja Leszek-Królikowska. She exudes charisma and is driven by her passion for action. You can learn more about her work in the IT industry and her feminine strength in this interview. Join us for an exciting conversation.
1. Patrycja, you started your adventure at Ailleron several years ago. How has your career path unfolded, and what do you currently do?
December 1 marked my 8th anniversary at Ailleron. I started my adventure as a Senior UX Designer, then as a Team Lead, a General Manager, and now a Business Unit Director. Everything I do at Ailleron, I always do with users, customers, and their digital experience in mind. The mission of the entire UXLab is to create, together with our clients (banks, leasing companies, or other financial entities), the best possible user experience in an open and creative space where every idea, including the crazy ones, counts just as much.
2. As a team, you have many interesting clients in Poland and abroad. What does such a typical cooperation look like?
A well-prepared meeting and workshop is essential. I repeat this always and everywhere. Time is very precious, so I can honestly say that I appreciate structured meetings very much. So, our work mostly starts with design sprints, i.e., 1-2 days of intensive workshops with the client, either on-site or remotely. Then we talk about the requirements, discuss the data we have, inspire each other, do good market research, and finally design a dream solution together on a piece of paper. Each participant creates his own, regardless of his position. Then, we choose the best one by voting, which often shortens long discussions to a minimum. The next stage is protopping, where the magic happens. The magicians, i.e., UX and UI designers from UXLab, create a viable prototype in a very short time, then we move on to testing, and then we find out if the idea is good and if we went in the right direction. I’m proud that so many clients get into this process. After that, we have more user testing, creating a design system, more screens, iterations, and modules. And so on until the final design.
3. Due to numerous Design Sprints, meetings and workshops, do you and your team travel often to visit clients? Or maybe online meetings are already the prevailing standard?
In 2023 year, we have been with our clients at workshops in London and Vienna. We also travel in Poland: Warsaw, Wroclaw, Poznan, Lodz. We also hold meetings at our headquarters in Cracow. I am a firm fan of “live” meetings. The energy and shared creative design vibe during the concept phase is then irreplaceable.
4. Your portfolio is really rich. Which project was the most interesting to you and which one are you most proud of as a team?
We always design with and for our clients. And we always work in such a way as to be proud of the final result. Our portfolio is indeed wealthy; we have many projects for banks, financial institutions and leasing, while we also have projects for hotels, the travel segment, real estate, tax, and generally for clients from all over the world. We take away something interesting from each project, which strongly inspires the following realizations.
5. Can we preview this portfolio somewhere?
We are building it on the dribble. Stay tuned; it is developing all the time. Look at Ailleron designs, themes, templates and downloadable graphic elements on Dribbble.
6. There has been a lot of buzz about the umami strategy recently. How can this theory be applied to UX activities? Does it have practical application in your UX Lab?
An excellent article titled “Competitive advantage & UX in umami style”, about umami strategy, was written by our content expert – Justyna Drogowska. It’s based on Aga Szóstek’s book and UXLab activities, and you can read it here. She perfectly captured how we at UXLab combine strategy elements with working with our clients. Umami also has an undefined and non-obvious taste that I love. When I eat a dish like this, I know I like it. “Something” in it, that “pinch of magic”, also comes into play in workshops and creative design. I am optimistic about my work and new challenges because of this magic.
7. The UX team has grown significantly in the past 2 years. It is a sizable, strong and close-knit team. What is your strength?
Yes, we have a very versatile team! I will answer this question in points because I like specifics myself and I think this will be the best summary. The strength of UXLab comes from the following:
- desire to design good experiences,
- curiosity about the world,
- solving real user problems,
- challenging each other,
- smile and joke every day,
- relaxed and light atmosphere while working.
Professional quality items should be delivered in a friendly and good atmosphere.
9. There is female power in your UX team. Have you noticed a trend that more and more women are deciding or maybe even “daring” to enter this more technical world?
Our UXlab currently employs 11 people, including 5 women. I have been in the IT industry for more than 14 years, and over the years, I have definitely noticed that more and more women are entering this world. This is beautiful because diverse teams in terms of gender, age, competencies, and passions have the most incredible power of action and are the most effective in delivering super-quality solutions. Hence, the power of our UXlab.
10. What 3 pieces of advice would you give to women still considering or concerned about entering the IT world?
I love challenges, especially sports challenges. I know that with a clear plan and monitoring your achievements regularly, it’s easier to get the success you dream of. So, the 3 simple rules I follow when preparing for any ultramarathon or climbing a mountain peak also translate into principles that I follow in business. Here they are:
- set a specific, well-defined goal that you want to achieve in IT (e.g., become a lead, manager, IT analyst, or UX designer)
- prepare a plan of action: start with a list of trainings, courses or majors to finish, think about what internship you should get, and how many years of experience you need, and start observing people who perform similar functions (e.g., on social media) and network with them.
- implement the plan, regardless of the setbacks encountered, and persevere to the goal.
One more pro tip: be curious about your world, observe it. Draw one lesson from every experience, if only from going to the movies, traveling, or meeting with friends. It’s important to remember that change is needed for continuous development; don’t be afraid of it. Only through change can we grow, and to change, you need to reflect, observe the world, and learn your lessons.
11. Out of topic 🙂 What is your team’s way to best integration party?
Hehe, you’d have to ask the whole Uxlab. From my point of view, one of the best integrations we’ve been to was a trip to a hostel in the mountains in November. There was a campfire, guitar playing, and singing… Practically zero comforts and we still remember it to this day. And the first snow fell that time! It was really great!
Patrycja, thank you for this interview. You are a great example for us, the Ailleron girls 😉 and all #AilleronExperts, that success is within reach when you firmly stick to your goals and look boldly ahead. Thanks for being with us and creating this strong team! Girl power!