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WTP Emerging Leader Interview with Cristina Hoffman

08 Jun 2012 12:47 | Deleted user

What are your sources of motivation?

I deeply care about having a positive impact in people’s lives; this is a great source of motivation for me. I pursue this by creating products and services that provide meaningful experiences, and make a difference for customers. This can be a real source of value and differentiation for a company, and one of the pillars on which I think Europe should grow. Creativity and entrepreneurship motivated by this type of value creation are in my opinion essential, and the area I want to invest my work in.

How did you manage to combine your passion for design with engineering?

With a lot of determination and resourcefulness, because it wasn’t a typical career orientation in my environment. One of the keys has been to continuously nurture my skills, cultivating a solid point of view about what I do and how it can contribute to the business.

Throughout my engineering studies I made sure I learnt as much as possible about design and carefully sought internships that combined both disciplines. After graduating, my first roles were in innovation, but purely technical, however I strived to infuse them with the value of design skills and practices at every chance I got. I often re-invented my roles and stretched my responsibilities. I also made sure to first attend, and later speak at international design conferences. This allowed me to connect with the design community and learn from them. I was also part of the organization’s scattered design network, through which we sought to collaborate and align ourselves. By that time I had already evolved my job into applying innovation-by-design techniques to our research programs, so when Orange decided to consolidate an in-house Design & User Experience division, I was asked to join them in this adventure.

Working as a Design Lead, do you use your engineering skills?

Yes, my engineering skills are a real asset in many ways. They have been precious in helping me deal with complexity and shape initiatives in unstructured environments. Also, when designing digital products and services, it is an advantage to understand the potential behind new technologies, which helps you create more imaginative solutions. Not to mention how helpful they have proven to collaborate with other stakeholders, specially the ones responsible for building our solutions, since I understand what it takes to make things happen.

Which of the strategic innovation projects you’re involved in are you the most passionate about?

I’m very excited about working on improving how we provide digital customer care. It is a very complex challenge but one that really matters in Orange’s 2015 strategy.

The company has set up anticipation programs which are built with a Marketing, a Design and a Technical lead, who run them in close collaboration. This is a very interesting way of working as we bring together our different expertise and points of view to create a strong vision for the program. It has been a fantastic opportunity to consolidate our best practices, going out to see our clients and gaining precious insights on their experience of care, which has inspired much of our new service concepts. I’m really proud that we’ve tackled our challenge through user-centered design and come up with new ways of thinking about care and delivering it through our digital interfaces.

Could you elaborate on your philosophy of 'advocating through results', which you mention in your biography?

Advocating through results is a philosophy of having influence by being humble and constructive. And it’s about walking the talk.

If you believe in something and want to make it happen, you need others to believe in it and integrate it, and for this they need to be convinced of its value. Therefore the best way to achieve results is to engage with stakeholders, understand the problems at hand, what their priorities are and what they need to deliver on. Then help them succeed as quickly as you can, deliver excellent work on whatever is key to them. There is no such thing as a small project, because it will earn you credibility and their trust. Once you have a seat at the table and are part of making things happen, over-deliver; show them new things that your team can do, and gradually engage in more strategically important conversations. It’s very much about delivering results, excellence and conciliating multiple priorities.

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