At IA Collaborative, we bring together core Disciplines to collaborate on multidisciplinary project teams. Each Discipline brings a unique skill set to tackle business challenges and contributes to the vibrant culture of IA. This month, we\u2019re going \u201cbehind the scenes\u201d with the Interaction Design and Product Strategy team to hear more about the work they do and what makes them tick. Our conversation with Hyun Kim, Jesse Wilbur, Whitney Olson Jenich, Rebecca (\u201cBex\u201d) Henderson, and Josh Epstein follows below. It has been edited and condensed for clarity. First off, let\u2019s not bury the lead. You\u2019re hiring for some new roles on your team right now, correct? HYUN: Yes! We\u2019re hiring for two exciting new roles: Principal Product Strategist, and Lead UX Engineer. Both roles will help us build, launch and evolve new digital products, services and experiences for our clients. The Lead UX Engineer role at IA Collaborative is a unique application of that skillset. Can you talk about that? HYUN: The role is technology agnostic. So one day you might be coding several iOS prototypes for user testing and another day you might be integrating IOT devices to develop a proof of concept. As a UX Engineer in an innovation consultancy, you get to work at the forefront, more in the \u2018white space,\u2019 to explore and prototype with a combination of different technologies to make whatever solution we need. It\u2019s a collaborative and cross-functional environment, so our software engineers are not off building code in a vacuum. They\u2019re collaborating with the cross-functional team from the very beginning of a project, where we\u2019re creating working prototypes of new concepts and testing their viability. The instant you can make something real that people can hold in their hands and see how it works - they can imagine the potential of the concept. It\u2019s so much better than just a sketch or a mockup. That\u2019s a big part of what our Lead UX Engineer will get to do. How does Technology intersect with the work of your team, and IA overall? JOSH: Technology is horizontal to our organization, not vertical. Interaction design has been around - we\u2019ve been designing for mobile for like 10 years at this point. And a lot of the rules are already defined and it's our job to know the rules. But what\u2019s really exciting is when we get to invent new rules. Using all that we know about traditional UX and translating that into...how would this same sort of interaction work with a robot, to say, signal an alert to a potential obstacle? How would it apply as part of a new AR\/VR experience? Or building a new algorithm? We\u2019re applying our craft to emerging technology in these contexts. What originally drew you to IA Collaborative? JESSE: The strategic nature of the digital work we do. We\u2019re transforming businesses and creating new offerings for them. It\u2019s meaningful when you can see your work creating impact in the world, and even be a benefactor of that work yourself. For example we built this digital safety platform for Allstate, which I use every day for my insurance. HYUN: Yeah, that was one of the most exciting things for me - the chance to build \u2018ground up\u2019 new products and services that make it to market and change people\u2019s lives for the better. Big stuff like chronic disease management, identity protection, financial management, public health and safety. When you see your work launched on Jimmy Fallon, at Apple\u2019s developer conference, CES - or on a billboard in Times Square - that feels good. BEX: This might not surprise you, but the collaborative nature of our process and the trusting relationships that we build with our clients! We don\u2019t do \u201cbig reveals\u201d here. It can be a very nebulous space sometimes, trying to figure out the right problem to solve. We bring everyone along with us. WHITNEY: Yes - no silos! What I found really interesting, going through grad school and then coming here - was the collaborative process was really similar. I\u2019m sitting around a table with these people with different skill sets, but we\u2019re all working together as one team. Also - no assigned desks. I won\u2019t be constrained by a desk ever again. OK, let\u2019s talk about your team. How would you describe the Interaction Design + Product Strategy team at IA? BEX: Our team is made up of naturally curious people. We\u2019re very aware of our day-to-day surroundings and always eager to learn, asking what could be done better. It\u2019s what led a lot of us to the UX world in the first place. WHITNEY: Yeah, many people have followed a non-traditional path in getting into UX - one of our team members was an English teacher before this. We all got into this field because we had this breakthrough where we realized, my life experience has opened my eyes to a better way of doing things, an amazing experience I could create, and I want to bring that to the world. JESSE: This is a team that intently focuses on elevating our practice: the way we do our work, not just the work itself. Whether it\u2019s examining topics like ADA compliance, responsible and ethical design, cognitive biases, or complex data; we are committed to shaping the future of our craft. In our weekly huddles, team members are bringing forward really big questions about our practice and our responsibility as designers, and they\u2019re doing so in a positive, generative and mutually respectful way that unites and inspires. I\u2019m grateful for that. WHITNEY: Also, everyone\u2019s a little bit of a nerd. And I love it. BEX: In the best way! We\u2019re very, very passionate about our interests, inside and outside of work. WHITNEY: I\u2019m weaving you a tapestry on my loom as we talk. Josh probably finished a beautiful screenprint before work. JOSH: And I know the 5 types of sourdough bread Jesse is obsessed with making. Over the past year, what kinds of things has the team done to stay connected when you\u2019re fully remote? JOSH: We\u2019ve had several virtual huddles where we\u2019ve taken tools that are normally used for designing, and turned it into a game. For example, we played Pictionary in Figma. JESSE: The drawings were so awful, because it\u2019s hard to draw in Figma, but it was so fun. JOSH: Another thing we\u2019ve started doing is five for five - every week we\u2019ll nominate someone to talk about five things in five minutes. Show us pictures of five things in your life and talk about them. So now I know Whitney loves birds. And Hyun really loves barbecue. It\u2019s a small thing, but so cool to learn surprising things about new co-workers or people you\u2019ve known for years. BEX: Something that\u2019s really helped our team during COVID is to be super transparent with each other. Openly discussing challenges we may be having outside of work and supporting each other even if there\u2019s no immediate fix, which is just really nice. There\u2019s a sense of camaraderie around this shared experience.