Q&A with CD Facilitator Lead Chelsea Hare

Chelsea Hare is a senior UX researcher and customer development facilitator at Mach49 with an unconventional background. Instead of taking a more traditional route, her design education started with the UX design bootcamp from General Assembly, where she gained invaluable skills through experiential learning and accelerated industry training. We were so impressed by her portfolio and list of accomplishments that we invited her to join us as a UX designer. Recently we had a chance to sit down with one of our first designers to get an inside scoop on her work at Mach49 and how she's transforming product experiences through customer-centric thinking.

Mach49: So tell us about yourself? 

Chelsea: My name is Chelsea Hare and I am a customer development facilitator, lead, and researcher. 

When did you first join Mach49? And how did you hear about the role? 

I've been with Mach49 since October 2017. I learned about the opportunity when Mach49 reached out to me through the General Assembly alumni board. 

What's most exciting about your role at Mach49?

I think the most exciting part about working at Mach49 is the diversity of projects that we take on. Every three months, I'm thrown into something completely different. It's always a little bit scary when you’re just jumping in, but it's also really exciting. By the end of the project, I usually feel like an expert in a space that I know nothing about. So my answer would be being able to jump into these different domains and spaces that I've never been in before. Plus, it’s super exciting to just have the opportunity to greatly expand my knowledge. 

What are some of the greatest things you've learned at Mach49 since you started? 

I think some of the greatest things that I've been able to learn are from the people around me. Mach49 is full of really diverse minds, and really, really knowledgeable people that have insane backgrounds from different domains, and they've worked on a million different things. I think the coolest thing is being able to sit with our team members day to day to pick their brains about absolutely any topic while still being able to learn from the collective brains that we have here.

We're showcasing how Mach49 supports some of our clients' ambitious sustainability goals. Can you share any of your work examples and how you’ve contributed to helping to address or solve some of the world's most pressing problems? 

For one of my most memorable projects that I've worked on at Mach49, I traveled to Australia for over a month. My team and I were there to try to understand how we could make solar energy more accessible to everyone, not just people with a lot of money who can buy solar panels, but for the greater Australian community. Given that Australia is an extremely sunny country, we really wanted to understand how we could harness that energy and make it accessible to everyone. So I think that was a really awesome project that allowed us to positively impact customers. In turn, we were able to help lower energy costs for Australians. Additionally, I worked on a project that was focused on water consumption and ways to save water for the future. However, I’m honored to say that all the projects I've worked on at Mach49 are usually focused on complex problems at scale that allow us to solve real problems for real people.

Wow! Chelsea, that’s amazing that you had a chance to visit Australia and spend a month working closely with the team to foster positive change. I can only imagine how phenomenal that experience must have been. Other than your time in Australia, what are some of the coolest adventures that you had since working at Mach49 that you'd like to share with us?

So in addition to spending a month working with one of our clients in Australia, I've also been able to travel to Canada and other interesting places like Idaho and Montana to conduct user research. I love the fact I never quite know where I’m going to end up but it's been really awesome to have the opportunity to travel along for the ride and actually get in and conduct research from the source. That’s one of my favorite parts about being a part of the team at Mach49. 

So tell us about the people at Mach49 and your experience here?

When I first joined Mach49, I didn't really know what to expect. There's so many different types of people from business backgrounds. You have people who launch startups to people who are just getting started in industry design. I think the mix of brains, creatives, and people who are really focused on business and so much more really allows our company to offer world-class talent to the rest of the world while rounding out the phenomenal work that we do. I also really appreciate that if any of us has a question, there's always someone here who's going to be able to answer it for us while giving a ton of context. Any problem you have, I always say throw the ball in the air and there's going to be someone here to catch it. 

What's different with Mach49 compared to other places you've worked? 

Mach49 really hires you for your superpowers, and there's a lot of different superpowers within the company. I think our strengths might seem random and not necessarily related to venture launching or innovation. But whatever your superpower is, it probably helps to build up the larger team. So we have a lot of different types of people, and together, we make up a very, very robust, strong team of different backgrounds. I think that’s the biggest difference.

What led you to join Mach49?

I had taken a UX/UI design course. Coming out of that, I knew that I didn't want to just design apps and little gadgets. So when I received an offer from Mach49 to do something really innovative and disruptive, I thought it was a really exciting opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.  Again, I came into this really wanting to solve real problems for real people. So when I found Mach49, I really felt like this is a place where I can actually drive change and not just put out another app or something like that. I found it compelling and inspiring to have the ability to create solutions with measurable impact.

What’s it like working for a Silicon-Valley based start-up? 

It’s been crazy working for a Silicon Valley-based startup, but in a good way! Being within the Silicon Valley ecosystem, there's so many opportunities to gain invaluable insights. And there's so many exciting things happening. It can be a little bit intimidating when you're trying to do something innovative. But Silicon Valley is the home of innovation, so all of the big things are happening around here. It's also a really great space to be in with opportunities to go find people who think similarly to you, or do some research, or get out there and attend some events that might help to push your clients’ learning and really get them in that Silicon Valley disruptive startup mindset. 

What does a bad day look like? 

There aren’t many bad days. But I'd say a bad day would be a really long client day where the clients that come in treat this sprint like a corporate Disneyland. They want to get in early, stay late, and then go to events after hours. And for us who do this every day, that's just not sustainable. So you really have to be able to let them know, this is their venture, and all the time they want to put into it is great, but I still have to go home and come back tomorrow and do the same thing. So it’s key to give yourself that space to not work 24/7 when you’re moving quickly at startup pace to build new ventures. 

And Mach49 supports you in doing this? 

Yes! Absolutely. They are always telling me to take breaks, put my vacations on the calendar, don't show up to certain meetings. They always want to make sure that we're ready. And I’m really grateful for that because it allows us to sustain ourselves so we can continue to do such great work. 

Tell us about when you first joined Mach49 four and a half years ago.

When I joined, there were ten of us sitting around a table for our all hands meeting. That was our entire team. Flash forward to today, where there's over 150 people in multiple offices around the globe. So it's been really amazing to be a part of that growth and see it happen. I definitely didn't expect it when I first started. But I love it and I wouldn't have been here for so long if I didn't and being one of the core employees here, it's amazing. The environment is awesome, and I get to work with creative people of all different types. If you're considering a career with Mach49, I would definitely do it if you're a creative, enjoy a fast-paced environment, and are ready to solve big problems. 

How has Mach49 helped you to excel in your career? 

I've grown immensely since I started working here. I came from a very simple background, not super academic, and I wasn't in the corporate space. So coming in, I was a little bit nervous. But everyone here is super lovely. No matter what their background is, we're all essentially on the same level. So I've been able to learn a ton from all of my colleagues who've done really incredible things, and I think they've learned from my background and experiences as well, even though I'm not the typical person who would be working in a corporate office environment.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about joining Mach49? 

If you're thinking about joining Mach49, I would say do it. It’s fast paced, creative, and a great place to explore new experiences and diverse opportunities. Mach49 is also extremely supportive in helping their team members reach their goals and honestly, do whatever they’d like to do. If something piques your interest, you can jump into it and still have genuine support in your endeavors. There’s tons of opportunities to continue to learn and maybe take a different career path than you anticipated.

Since connecting with Mach49 in 2018, Chelsea has been able to travel all over the world to study the behaviors and needs of greater communities, contribute to Mach49’s larger ecosystem of world-class teams, and most importantly help solve the world’s greatest challenges through impactful research and visual design. 

If you’re thinking about starting a career at Mach49, now is the perfect time. We’re currently seeking new team members to join our movement and we hope that individual could be you! Visit https://www.mach49.com/careers to learn more.

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