Michelle Luo - She/Her
Michelle Luo is a product designer for PWC and designs end-to-end experiences and optimizes design systems using Figma. She has a background in UX and industrial design and a Master’s degree in User Experience Design.
Please tell us about your career
I'm a product designer working in the tech industry. What I like about it is that it allows me to do divergent, out-of-the-box thinking. When it comes to design, there isn't a 'correct way' or 'only way' of doing things; as long as it produces desired results.My day-to-day varies on the type of projects I am working on; there will be some days where I am sketching wireframes for a new concept, doing UX research that requires me to interview users, or building reusable UI components in Figma.
As a child, I've always had an interest in building stuff, sketching random things that came to mind, and understanding how things work. My textbooks would be covered in doodles and I've had piles of broken toys and gizmos that I've taken apart because I was curious about what was inside. My favourite thing to do as a child was to play with Legos.
I studied Industrial Design for my undergrad, then had a deep interest in human behaviours and understanding of the 'emotional side' of human and product interaction. Then I moved to the UK to pursue my master's degree in User Experience Design. And ended up where I was today!
I never thought I would end up working in the tech industry. Growing up, I've had adults tell me that "you had to be good at math and science" in order to work in tech; which was something I felt like wasn't very good at. The decision I made to pivot from Industrial Design and pursue my masters degree in the UK not only has made an impact on my own career, but also a positive impact on my mental health. If I hadn’t made those decisions then I wouldn’t have got to where I am today. When I think about my career I feel Optimistic, excited, yet a bit overwhelmed; I think being overwhelmed is my baseline.It's promising to hear that more and more women are receiving their diagnosis. And there is progress on bringing more awareness around the subject of Neurodiversity into the workplace.
How has being Neurodivergent shaped the direction of your career?
Having been recently diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 26, I'm still learning what being Neurodivergent is for me. It's helped me realise that I needed to listen to my body rather than conform with 'what's the norm'. I feel a lot more confident to advocate for myself and I feel a lot more 'in-tune' with what my strengths are, though it's still a learning curve.
Do you feel that your job/industry is a good fit for an ND woman?
Both yes and no. While the tech industry is still heavily dominated by men, I think my own ADHD has given me traits which I believe are what makes me valued as a good designer. There is still room for improvement in the workplace for ND women, because we are either underdiagnosed or diagnosed much later in life. I, myself, received my ADHD diagnosis last year at the age of 26, am still learning about myself and how my brain works.
What advice would you give to another Neurodivergent woman navigating their way through life?
I attended ADHD support groups for women which helps with feeling less alone and being validated that ADHD is a 'real thing'. I've been working very closely with my manager and career coach to help understand what works for me and what doesn't. We've been trying out different things and strategies. CBT helped with cultivating my self-compassion mindset; how I shouldn't beat myself up for not being able to do certain things. I think it's important for Neurodivergent women to come out and speak about their experiences. ADHD affects people of different genders in different ways! We need more role models.