Tech Role Models: Ethelia Lung, Interaction Designer at YouTube

Today's Tech Role Model is Ethelia Lung. Ethelia is an interaction designer at YouTube.

Today’s Tech Role Model is Ethelia Lung. Ethelia is a Chinese Interaction Designer at YouTube. She currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area, but she’s originally from Hong Kong. She moved to the States for university and have been here since, working in her dream career. Outside of work, Ethelia likes to write, explore food places, and make things with her hands.

What’s your official title and how long have you been in this role?

I’m an Interaction Designer, and I’ve been in this role for around 10 months.

What attracted you to this role?

I love that design is a vehicle for so many things: education, communication, innovation, and more. My role allows me to translate research and user needs into an interactive application and/or use case.

Walk me through a typical day in your role. What activities do you engage in? What types of meetings do you join? When’s lunch?

I get to work a little bit before 8 am, and take an hour or so to answer emails and look at my to-do list for the day.

I work through my tasks in between meetings. These tasks are typically comprised of status updates, discussions, and reviews, and I have them throughout my work day.

Lunch is usually between 11:30 and 1:30. Sometimes we have team lunches at a bi-weekly cadence.

What skills/technologies help you succeed?

My focus is on digital design, and in particular screen design, so software that help me achieve those deliverables are what’s in my arsenal – from the Adobe suite to Sketch to Figma.

I also have experience in other design areas ranging from 3D design to motion graphics design, as well as front-end development areas such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

I think what’s helped me the most is the variety of “skill sets” I’ve touched, thanks to explorations when I was younger and more carefree, and academia.

What’s the most fun or creative part of your role?

Being at a large company means there are resources to conduct research and respond to larger issues from a more informed perspective!

What are the biggest challenges you face in this role?

Communication is incredibly important. There are so many people on the project team, and projects will likely touch other stakeholders company wide. It took me quite a while to really understand the wider processes and how to navigate the workflows here.

There’s also the fun challenge of creating within some incredible constraints (we’re working on a huge, 13-year-old app).

What teams/individuals do you work with cross-functionally? Can you give an example of a time when you collaborated with another group/individual?

Oh man, job interview question!

In general, the teams I’m on meet weekly (could include engineers, designers, project manager, programme manager, researcher, and product specialist) to talk about updates on our quarterly goals and any issues that came up.

An important collaboration that went down was between a designer on another team, my teams technical programme manager (TPgM) and I. I made a website powered by a Google Sheet and Firebase based on the work of that designer, and worked with the TPgM to ensure that we could pull the right data into the site.

What’s an area where you’re trying to grow in your role?

It’s hard to pick one, since there are so many things I want to be better at.

Leadership and handling ambiguity, helping my design skills flourish more, picking up new dev skills, and being more involved in the design community.

There are also personal things that I want to address, which aren’t directly related to my job but will complement how well I do it, such as insecurities and managing all my interests without burning out.

Aside from technical skills, what personality traits/characteristics make for an ideal candidate in your role?

Humility, honesty, and curiosity are really important, but I hesitate to say there are personality traits tied to succeeding in any job.

What skills (tech/non-tech) have you improved as a result of working in this role?

DEFINITELY communication, documentation, and patience; especially with expressing my opinions, knowing when to speak up, and how to prioritise my workload.

In your role, what metrics define success?

I’m pretty new but my impression is that people who are able to make a positive impact in their area, whether that’s internal to the company or brings new insights to the wider design community.

It’s difficult to define a metric because this field morphs so quickly, but at the heart of it, I feel like it comes down to helping to advance others.

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