Profiles in Leadership: Diverse Voices

Ventera Lead UX Researcher Meghan Nichols

I grew up in a household where both of my parents worked full time. My mother, a second-generation American from Mexico, instilled the qualities of being a strong, capable, successful woman in me from a young age. She taught me to speak up when I notice inequalities, a quality that I have carried with me throughout my career.

I will never forget when my manager went to bat for me as I was coming back from maternity leave. It was performance review time and because of my leave, my billable time was non-existent, resulting in a low overall score which did not reflect the quality of work I can do. My manager recognized this flaw in the policy and spoke up.

Management reviewed the oversight and sprung into action to make amends. By pointing out a problem and expressing a need for change, we were able to work together to improve this policy for myself and for future women who would be in a similar position.

That’s the kind of company Ventera is, and it’s a big reason why I love working here.

As a user researcher at Ventera, a big part of my day-to-day job requires empathy and putting my biases aside to create inclusive systems, so that regardless of age, race, gender, or disability, all users have the same experience. Adopting this mindset has really challenged me to put myself in others’ shoes. What are they going through? How are they perceiving things?

Diversity has influenced the way I work specifically when I am facilitating a session with a user. To achieve the most authentic results, it is important to foster a safe environment for people to speak freely, especially when the setting is more than 2 people.

Some people are more vocal, some people prefer to observe, others only speak up when they are probed. It is my role as a moderator to make sure all voices are heard, regardless of their personality type or communication style.

The feeling I get when I can establish a connection with a user is what makes my job so fulfilling. It has opened my eyes to the differences we all have. Everyone has a story, you must be willing and open to hear it.