For over 25 years, user experience (UX) designer Kim Eunjoo has worked for 11 companies including Motorola, Qualcomm, and Samsung Electronics. In 2016, she was shortlisted as one of the top 18 women leading the way in wearable tech and VR. Kim currently works as the UX design lead for the Google Assistant team where she was awarded as the Best Designer for Google Design Excellence in 2020. Ewha Voice interviewed Kim to share her full story.
Kim’s original dream was not to become a UX designer, but instead, a person who makes the world beautiful. Throughout Kim’s childhood, strict patriarchal norms and surroundings were commonplace – she was accustomed to hearing and thinking that women should follow determined paths. It was not until middle school when her teacher complimented her art skills that she discovered she was good at something. Later, she seriously considered pursuing design after helping out a friend who majored in design with church decorations.
“I realized how remarkable it is to magically make something beautiful from my very own touch,” Kim said.
Kim went on to study Visual Design at Ewha. During her third year, she took a new course in Interaction Design. She instantly fell in love with the course, motivating herself to further learn about human-computer interaction at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
During Kim’s university years in the 90s, web and UX design was not a popular field. Despite the unpopularity, she was never afraid to challenge herself. In fact, she only sought out projects and duties that were not considered mainstream.
“Most people do not know about the bliss and freedom non-mainstream tasks bring,” Kim said. “If you are assigned to projects that have a major impact on a company’s profit, there is a lot of pressure and a set of rules you have to follow. On the other hand, partaking in non-mainstream projects completely unfetters you from the heavy responsibilities and encourages you to further attempt new experiments. That freedom pushed me to seek out only non-mainstream tasks.”
Kim’s eccentric outlook followed at every company she worked for. At Samsung Electronics, instead of opting for the popular Galaxy mobile UX teams, she requested to lead the wearable UX teams — this later brought her several accolades. At Google, she did not run after the search division, but ventured into the Google Assistant team.
“I believe my dauntless attitude and pioneering spirit are some of my key qualities that brought me to the position I am in today and why companies are willing to work with me,” Kim said.
Aside from her work as a UX designer, Kim runs a busy life. While balancing a busy schedule of leading dozens of one-on-one meetings at work and rearing her twin daughters at home, Kim never forgets to write. Writing is a special tool for her to reflect on her day and cope with her struggles. In August 2020, Kim began her blog called Career Note — hoping her experiences and advice would bring comfort to people in need.
“It is critical to be self-aware of your mental state,” Kim advised. “Quite often, we do not know why we become anxious. However, if we physically write down the origin of our anxiety, it becomes a bit easier. If it is something we cannot control, we can try to forget about it as quickly as possible. If it is something we can control, we can take baby steps to manage the problem.”
In June 2021, Kim compiled fifty blog posts and published a number one Kyobo Book Centre bestseller book called “Stop Thinking, Let Things Happen” — aimed to reshape people’s professional and personal careers. Through her book, she wants to heal people’s hearts and make the world even more beautiful.
“After I became a UX designer, my dream became more specific: I want to build products that can improve living standards and provide conveniences to people,” said Kim. “Now, I want to expand that dream — I want to become a person who can make the world become a better place through my existence.”
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