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Women In Tech: Ioana Teleanu, UX Manager at UiPath, “Designers should spend more time talking to users and less time on pretty screens”

UX design UiPath Ioana Teleanu
Image credit: Ioana Teleanu
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With over 200K followers on Instagram alone and thousands of users getting their dose of curated UX Goodies on other social media platforms, Ioana Teleanu, UX Manager at UiPath since 2019, has become an ambassador of the UX design profession in the past couple of years.

Ioana Adriana Teleanu’s career path is based on self-discovery. She was born and raised in Bucharest and evolved from an elite high school student into a project management college graduate.

During her Master’s degree, she entered the corporate world at ING, as a Customer Care Officer, and metamorphosed out of it as a UX Architect almost a decade later. A creative endeavor that suited her childhood dreams better.

Her online presence boomed during the pandemic when people took the opportunity to pursue other careers, and she became an online mentor to many. This inspired her to also start different projects as an entrepreneur.

Today, she will tell us more about her journey into UX design, how motherhood inspired her, and what is next on her professional agenda.

In the “Women in Tech” series, we will introduce you to talented tech professionals that are riding the wave of change in the most exciting tech companies and ecosystem organizations in our region. Having a strong and devoted team is one of the prerequisites of success for every startup venture and what investors are most often looking for, so we want you to meet the ladies who are making innovation happen. 

We will explore different roles and jobs – from technical talents to professionals responsible for the growth and exploration of new markets, to IT jobs you haven’t even heard of, yet. We will also talk about what it is like to work in tech – the skills you need, the challenges you meet, the work environment that helps you thrive, and the future of work altogether.

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UX design UiPath Ioana Teleanu

The Recursive: Tell us about your career path so far and how did you land your current UX design job?

Ioana Teleanu, UX Goodies: My career path was a bit unconventional – I don’t come from a design background and after exploring different corporate roles within the ING Bank, I eventually discovered and transitioned into UX Design.

After the UX team was established in ING, I realized that I want to be a part of it and started reading and learning about this fascinating field. After a while, I was able to land an apprenticeship opportunity which paved the way toward a full transition into a UX role.

From ING I moved to UiPath. I’ve also had several collaborations with startups and design agencies on the side for the past couple of years.

How would you explain to a 7-year-old what your job is?

I help people interact with apps and websites in a useful, valuable, and easy way. My job is to make it so that even grandma can use it!

What is it like to work for UiPath and what do you like most about their culture?

What I loved about UiPath from day 1 was their “can-be-done” attitude: everybody put in the work and effort to solve problems fast and smart.

Their culture is one of collaboration and debate – I always love the conversations we have and where they lead us by bringing together cross-functional perspectives.

What does a day in your life look like? Tell us something we don’t know about the field you’re working in.

You probably don’t know that we spend more time talking to users and asking questions than we spend designing. – Ioana Teleanu

Sure, it can be the other way around, depending on where we are in the design process, depending on the context, team structure, roles, and more. But mostly, designers should spend time learning insights – this will go against popular opinion, perhaps – which is that designers spend most of their time doing pretty screens.

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How do you manage to balance different projects, keep the creative juices going, and also your mental health top-notch?

Tough question! Easy it is not, as I’ve recently had my first child and that makes the balance equation furthermore complicated, but it also helped me get better at setting boundaries and respecting my free time.

As designers, we love working on 2-3 projects at the same time, as one project informs the other and the other way around – it helps our productivity and inspiration. So working on multiple projects simultaneously is pretty common in a UX career.

For the past years, I’ve always had a part-time side gig as a UX designer as well as a content creation outlet like UX Goodies. Last year, I also launched my own UX bootcamp. I love juggling multiple projects, but I love most taking breaks from them to spend time with my daughter.

What did you want to be growing up and how has this vision changed over the years?

I had no clear dream, to be honest. Even in my mid-20s, I still did not know what I wanted to do with my life. As a child, I was very drawn to everything artistic: painting, writing, poetry, singing, to name a few, but my parents discouraged this path and that left me a bit lost and confused.

Being able to define and build a career is something that I don’t take for granted and am very grateful for.

What is your definition of success?

Having a balanced life. Having enough free time to enjoy my daughter’s childhood. Strictly professional, success is when you feel proud of your work.

What do you think makes you good at what you do?

I am genuinely curious about people, I have always been. So, understanding their needs, goals, hopes, and pains comes naturally to me, or so I feel.

What are your professional goals for this year?

This year I hope to see my UX Bootcamp Mento Design Academy grow further. Apart from that, I’m just excited to come back to my daytime job at UiPath after my maternity leave ends.

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Tell us about how you coped with a big failure in your career? How did you move on?

I’m an overthinker and an anxious person, so I tend to ruminate over every small mistake or failure. I can’t think of one big failure in particular, but I have several examples of mini-failures or things that I could have done better that ended up getting on my nerves for a long time.

What helps me overcome the excessive analysis is to turn those thoughts into actionable improvements as early as possible. Instead of saying:

“Oh, why didn’t I name my layers, that would have made my life so much easier”, I simply start naming my layers (designers will understand the struggle).

How has your professional life been influenced since becoming a mother?

I spent countless hours unpacking my professional fears around motherhood in therapy and with my coach and mentor Stephen Gates. Most of those conversations ended with: “let’s wait and see”. And they were right: my expectations were gloomier than the reality.

I don’t feel that motherhood slowed me down professionally or that it forced me to “sacrifice” something. I would say that I’m lucky enough to have experienced quite the contrary: some of my professional projects bloomed with motherhood. 

From remote work, through automation, a 4-day working week, to universal basic income, how do you imagine the future of work?

I think the future of work will bring more autonomy to individuals, as execution will be taken over by automated solutions on many levels. Another trend I believe in is that we’ll see more people pursuing rewarding careers, thanks to the democratization of education and mentorship.

 

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Elena is an Innovation Reporter at The Recursive with 10+ years of experience as a freelance writer based in Bucharest, Romania. Her mission is to report internationally on the amazing progress of the local startup ecosystems while bringing into focus exponential projects developed in niches like health and education or by female entrepreneurs.
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