Episode 1

The
Spark
 


Episode 1 - 1 March 2018

Breaking out of the cancer cell

Christine Welsh’s work-life relationship is so unusual that perhaps only she could tell us about it. Today as a Design Lead, she designs software language for hospital equipment interfaces, but it’s as though she did her residency as a patient. With her eye on the user experience at all times, Christine is adept at turning struggles into strengths - and career success.

“Basically, we just help people make really consistent, really incredible designs,” says Christine when asked to explain what she does. Christine has managed to have an impact on countless rooms in countless hospitals without having to be anywhere near the needles that make her so queasy. She’s certainly put in her time in on the hospital floor, but maybe not in the way you’d expect.

You see, when Christine was younger, studying design and learning software skills, she was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer. What followed was a lengthy ordeal of treatment, surgeries and long hospital stays. During this time Christine honed her resiliance, and her ability to keep a positive outlook, regardless of the hand that life deals you.
 

“Not everything that you think is bad for you actually is,” says Christine. “The best choices you make are the ones you make out of necessity.”

C Welsh
Railing against bad design: Christine Welsh believes that "good design shouldn't get in your way."
In addition to needles, Christine has a visceral response when she encounters bad design. She’s troubled most by ‘dark patterns:’ a rather ominous name for the trivial, but decidedly irksome ads that bombard us when we just begin to take an interest in online content. Everyone is frustrated by these, but why does it get under Christine’s skin?

It might have something to do with the very real dark pattern that crept under her skin in her past. Christine’s bout with cancer overlapped with her studies, and everyone cautioned her that eventually she’d have to choose: either her mind or her body would have to lose the fight.

“I don’t like people telling me what I can’t do.”

“I almost died more than once,” she reflects. But she was determined to let none of it get in the way. “I don’t like people telling me what I can’t do,” she says defiantly.

She broke free from the hospital ward, even sneaking in and out as she pleased, until she broke free of the cancer, too.

A career improving people's lives

 

Now, as a Design Lead working on hospital systems, she fights pesky patterns that slow down efficiency and user experience. What she does helps saves lives “just by the speed of use, just by being more efficient,” she says – “being able to display exactly what’s going on.”
 

To Christine, it’s a deeply embodied interest that stands at the nexus between art, science, and personal experience: the drive to get rid of the patterns that weigh us down. Although most of us seem to fall into such limitations endlessly, Christine demonstrates the uniquely human talent for overcoming them.
 

“Good design shouldn’t get in your way,” she says. Rather, it should support us in our everyday tasks. “Like I had with a laparoscopy, your blood pressure starts to drop. It’s the machines that tell the nurses you’re in trouble, it’s not you.”
 

Christine brings many kinds of knowledge to her team and network at Philips. Knowledge of what a patient might feel, of what the rules are, and when to break them. She’s also bringing new forms to the products she works on. Forms that we could go ahead and call ‘Bright Patterns.’ The future is indeed bright for Christine.

How has Christine turned her struggles into career success? Here are her top 5 keys to success:

  • Be the best ‘you’ you can be. There’s a lot of space to be an individual – you don’t have to fit a mould, so just be yourself and make it awesome.

  • Talk a lot to roles outside your own. There are so many different people with experience to learn from, so it pays to just grab a coffee and chat with people outside your own space.

  • Everybody is approachable. Don’t be afraid of hierarchy. Everyone is reachable to talk to.

  • Talk about your success. Why not? It’s good to let your team and even management know what you’re doing for everyone.

  • Take initiative. If you have a killer idea, my advice is to go for it. Prototype it and pitch it. You never know where it can lead.

Listen to the podcast to hear Christine’s story, including a dinner date with a difference, bad design, and a step by step on how to break out of a cancer ward.

If you’re looking for a career that breaks out of the ordinary, then consider a career at Philips - you may just be surprised at what you find. Check out our open vacancies now.

A dynamic career that no one could have planned.
Even you.