For beginners to experts, UX Centre Stage features UX professionals from Detroit, Kitchener-Waterloo, as well as London. They share their experiences and methods, and how to succeed in the industry from a woman’s perspective.

We want London to be known as a city that values design, tech and UX with a focus on diversity. This event celebrates women in tech and is open to everyone.

Venue: London Public Library, Central, 251 Dundas Street, London, ON

8:00am – 8:45am – Registration
8:45am – 9:00am – Opening Remarks (Wolf Performance Hall)

9:00am – 9:55am (Wolf Performance Hall)

Designing the Designer: Landing and Thriving in Your UX Role

Kate's Wilhelm

Kate Wilhelm, Manager, Product Design, D2L Corporation (Desire2Learn)

As designers, we know the importance of design, but we don’t always apply our tools to ourselves.

Drawing on her experience as a practitioner and a leader, Kate will give us a quick tour of the discipline before jumping in to help you think about the following topics:

• Finding where you fit in

• Thinking about your brand

• Making space to grow and do good work

• Becoming a practice advocate

This session will provide practical advice for both new and seasoned practitioners.

10:00am – 10:55am (Wolf Performance Hall)
The Road Taken: UX Integrated with the Product Development Life Cycle

Susan Simon Daniels

Susan Simon Daniels, Senior User Experience Researcher, Oracle | Netsuite

Often, UX activities such as research and design are treated as deliverables that get inserted into the product development life cycle. One example occurs when the product manager has written requirements and asks for work flows to illustrate each use case. Another example occurs when developers have agreed on the technical architecture and ask for the visual treatment of how the user interface will look. Or, when the product or feature is almost ready to be released, someone remembers to ask for a usability study to make sure people can use the thing!

This presentation will outline how UX professionals can engage product stakeholders to run UX activities in parallel with the product development life cycle. Rather than disconnected activities delivered sporadically throughout the process, UX activities become an integral contribution that walks along a shared path.

10:00am – 10:55am (Stevenson & Hunt Room)
See the Forest for the Trees: The Role of a Design Strategist

Hida Behzadi

Hida Behzadi, Design Strategist and Graphic Artist, London Life

In the past few years, with the popularity of the field of user experience, there have been a variety of new job titles added to the list of roles within the UX industry. As many of these titles are rather new, responsibilities within them are not fully established, explained, or relayed through their job titles.

Design Strategists surely occupy one of these newer job titles. But what is Design Strategy? How can you become a Design Strategist? What responsibilities does a Design Strategist have? Where in a digital team’s arrangement do they fit? And what value can they bring to the team and the organization? In this session, Hida will be sharing some of her learnings as a Design Strategist within a digital team.

11:00am – 11:55am (Wolf Performance Hall)
Designing the Design: How to build a design language from scratch

Jennifer Pretti

Jennifer Pretti, Team Lead, User Experience, Thalmic Labs

A Design Language System (DLS) is an overarching set of design rules that create harmony across an ecosystem of products. It can help rally a product team around a shared vision and approach, which in turn can mean clarity of direction within an organization and externally to your target users.  But how do you go about actually building a DLS?  Where do you start?  How long does it take?  And what if what you’re creating a DLS for something entirely new, that doesn’t yet exist? That was the challenge we faced at Thalmic recently. The goal of this talk is to describe the process by which we defined our own DLS, the challenges we faced, and the lessons we learned along the way.

11:00am – 11:55am (Stevenson & Hunt Room)
UX Design in Video Game Art: The importance of player leading

Sarah Cole Megaro

Sarah Cole-Megaro, Layout Artist, Digital Extremes

How do you communicate with your player while they’re playing your game without being overbearing? How do you manage the delicate balance between presenting a fun challenge to your player without frustrating them? How does the player know where to go?

Player leading is an important component in designing video games of all genres: how to subtly guide your player through a 3D space using a variety of visual tools and tricks. We will look at the challenges designers face and some approaches to ensure the player has the best possible experience.

12:00pm – 1:00pm – Lunch Break

1:00pm – 1:55pm (Wolf Performance Hall)
Advancing User-Centeredness, Solving Pain Points, and Driving Innovation: Lessons learned from mapping the customer experience

Emily Bowman

Emily Mahood Bowman, Senior User Experience Designer, General Motors

While the practice of user experience strategy is gaining ground, political and operational struggles crop up when trying to incorporate these new tools and techniques. Organizational legacies don’t disappear and not everyone understands the value of such efforts. To help newcomers to the strategy table identify where to focus your efforts and what battles are worth the fight, we’ll explore the lessons learned mapping the customer experience and operationalizing a consumer-centered strategic framework for a large automotive client.

1:00pm – 1:55pm (Stevenson & Hunt Room)
Designing for the Disabled Bodies We all Have

Roxanna Galusca

Roxana Galusca, UX Designer, Thomson Reuters

An overview of major accessibility principles, with a focus on the ethics of researching and designing for people with disabilities. Roxana will discuss major approaches in accessible design, such as universal and ability-based design, followed by some practical advice about how to achieve accessibility in UX research and design.

2:00pm – 3:15pm (Wolf Performance Hall)
Panel Discussion with Fanshawe College Spotlight Graduate
and several of the day’s earlier presenters

Andrea Classen

Andrea Classen, IT Developer – Technical Lead, TD Bank (Fanshawe College Spotlight Graduate)

Andrea Classen is a graduate of the Computer Programmer Analyst program at Fanshawe College, completing the program with a 4.2 GPA, and earning the Governor General’s Academic Medal. Acknowledged for her accomplishments in mobile development and innovation after placing first in a joint programming challenge with Fanshawe College and TD Bank, Andrea was offered a position within TD on a team tasked with creating new, engaging, and innovative mobile solutions for customers and employees. Working independently and leading development teams, Andrea enjoys the creative freedom, and endless possibilities, that creating new user experiences can provide.

3:15pm – 3:30pm – Wrap-up and Prizes (Wolf Performance Hall)
3:30pm – 6:00pm – Social and Networking (Stevenson & Hunt Room)

Speaker Bios

Kate's Wilhelm

Kate Wilhelm, Manager, Product Design, D2L Corporation

Kate is a user experience leader and strategist with strong practical knowledge of user experience tools and best practices. She pioneered the information architecture practice at BlackBerry and contributed there as a UX leader and practitioner. Kate has worked in both corporate and consulting environments and has helped many companies define their brands and their user experience strategies. She has been a speaker in Canada and the US, has served on the executive of the IA Institute, and is an active mentor.

In her spare time, Kate contributes her design thinking expertise to a climate change initiative. She recently switched back to karate from kung fu and can often be found in a deep horse stance.

Susan Simon Daniels

Susan Simon Daniels, Senior User Experience Researcher, Oracle | Netsuite

As a UX professional, Susie listens to and observes people using products and services—but not in a creepy way. Then, Susie works with design and product teams to make those experiences better. Something she’s been doing for more than 25 years. Susie earned a Masters in Language and Rhetoric from Waterloo and became a Certified Usability Analyst through Human Factors International.

Currently at Oracle | NetSuite, Susie has had stints at Maple Soft, Open Text, Sun Life, Manulife, Quarry Integrated Communications, BlackBerry and Intel Security. Susie dedicates her working hours to improving the user experience of software, hardware, websites and mobile devices. With proven success in delivering customer research, user-centered design, professional writing and technical training, Susie believes a cross-discipline team armed with customer insights makes every product and service more valuable.

When not advocating for better user experiences, Susie and her high-school sweetheart are busy raising one often well-behaved daughter and one less well-behaved dog. Susie will most certainly quote poetry and Red Sox baseball statistics at opportune moments.

Hida Behzadi

Hida Behzadi, Design Strategist and Graphic Artist, London Life

Hida Behzadi is a Design Strategist and Graphic / UX designer. Through her design journey she has worn even more hats, such as creative director, account manager, print production coordinator, project manager, illustrator, university lecturer, and art instructor.

Coming from a background of design (M.A., B.A.) and fine art (informally) she ran a successful visual communication boutique (Creative Cocoa) between 2010–2016. Through those years she has had the chance to work with well-known clients like Canada Post, City of London, The Grand Theatre, United Way, McGill University, Municipality of Dutton Dunwich, Andrew Lewis Design, Lashbrook, Carve, Pillar Network, Innoversity, YMCA, and many more.

Hida is a registered member of RGD Ontario and currently works with London Life’s Digital Services, as a Design Strategist. She believes that user experience design spans more than just the digital realm, and embraces any opportunity for learning and exploring better ways to serve the user needs through visual communication and design. She is thrilled to be sharing her passion and experiences with like-minded design and user experience enthusiasts at UX Centre Stage.

Jennifer Pretti

Jennifer Pretti, Team Lead, User Experience, Thalmic Labs

Jennifer Pretti has been pursuing a career in user experience for over 18 years. Her path towards UX began early, after discovering the field of human-computer interaction while studying Systems Design Engineering at the University of Waterloo. Her growing passion for the field led her to Virginia Tech, where she completed a Masters degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering with a specialization in Human Factors Engineering and Ergonomics. It was at that point she launched her professional career as an Interaction Designer working for companies such as IBM, Nokia, Vision Critical, and BlackBerry. Jennifer then took on a UX manager role at Christie Digital, helping to build its first UX team and establishing user-centered design processes in both software and hardware development.

She is now the UX Lead at Thalmic Labs, managing a growing team of designers, with a goal of redefining the ways in which humans interact with technology. Keeping her equally busy and happy are her two children, rock climbing, running, and spending time at the cottage, preferably with a good book and glass of wine in hand.

Sarah Cole Megaro

Sarah Cole-Megaro, Layout Artist, Digital Extremes

Sarah Cole-Megaro is Layout Artist at Digital Extremes in London, Ontario. She is currently working on new open-world content for their free-to-play game WarFrame.

Before joining DE, she was a Level Artist at Ubisoft Toronto where she shipped a number of AAA titles including Assassin’s Creed Unity, Splinter Cell Blacklist, Watch Dogs 2, Far Cry Primal, and the upcoming Far Cry 5.

Sarah also sits on the program advisory board for Humber College’s 3D program and often volunteers at student networking events reviewing portfolios and helping recent graduates get started in the industry.

Emily Bowman

Emily Mahood Bowman, Senior User Experience Designer, General Motors

Emily Bowman is a Senior User Experience Designer at General Motors where she designs the next generation of infotainment systems for Cadillac vehicles. Throughout her design career, she has leveraged user-centered methodologies to help global brands like Jaguar Land Rover, Kimberly-Clark, Ford, and Intel create useful and usable experiences through cars, phones, wearables, and the web. Emily also serves as the Experience Architecture in Residence at Michigan State University and is an active volunteer in the Michigan UX community.

Roxanna Galusca

Roxana Galusca, UX Designer, Thomson Reuters

Roxana comes to the field of UX design and research with a PhD in Media Studies from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. As a UX professional, she specializes in qualitative research methods, agile methodologies, accessible design, and participatory research. Before her current position at Thomson Reuters, she worked as a UX specialist with Amnesty International, Fair Labor Association, and Sassafras Tech Collective.


UX Centre Stage is possible thanks to the generous contributions of our sponsors. We’re deeply grateful to these sponsors for supporting London’s growing UX community.


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