Meet Joy Suthigoseeya, UX Designer

Joy talks about her journey to the BBC, what’s on her playlist and her thoughts on the paradox of time travel.


Photograph of Joy Suthigoseeya
In this instalment we speak to Joy Suthigoseeya, UX Designer. Joy is currently working with the Systems + Service Design team.

How do you explain what you do for a living to a child?

I never thought about it for a child but have considered it for my non-techy aging parents. The best way I got them to understand was by using an architecture analogy. I compared a UX designer to an architect, a UI designer to an interior designer, and a developer to a builder. Although it’s not exactly like-for-like, it was enough to give them a good idea. Now that I’m moving more towards service design, it may be time for a refresh.

Name one favourite thing and one challenging thing about your role?

My favourite thing about the role is the constant learning. I’ve learned SO much and give loads of credit to my team. Everyone brings their own unique views and expertise to the table. They are an amazing group to work with.

One challenging thing has got to be the lack of access to stakeholders who make the big decisions. Because of it, our solutions end up constrained and not the most ideal.

What was your journey before coming to the BBC?

When I started I never imagined myself doing anything apart from visual design. I spent a big part of my career exploring print and web, branding, illustration, and package design. Back then, I used to dream of working at a hotshot agency, creating slick designs for the mega-brands of the world. Eventually, I learned about UX during my MA course in Interactive Media at London College of Communication. Through sheer luck, I got my first job out of uni as a junior UXer for an interactive agency. This was where I discovered a true passion for UX. After freelancing for several years, I became disillusioned by the lack of impact agency work had. In another chance move, I decided to give in-house a try and ended up here at the BBC. The rest, as they say, is history.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever done?

It would be the time I worked as an office cleaner for a family business of three. The parents and their teenage daughter would come pick me up in their van after school, and we’d drive to this grim, windowless, industrial office space that looked like something out of the '70s. The four of us would work in silence, hoovering and picking up used tissues from cluttered desks. I got paid less than $5/hour for 4-5 hours minus the 45 min drive each way. In total, it came to about $15 an evening. I quit after the second time.

If you could explore any other profession, what would it be and why?

If it were to be something completely unrelated, it would be acting. By no means do I think I would be any good at it, but what attracts me is the process to embodying the soul of a character. I imagine you’d have to plumb the depths of empathy. Not just that, but learning to have the confidence to fully let go of what others think and be in the moment, sounds like something that could be really useful. Or maybe I just want the fame and fortune that goes along with being in the spotlight. Yes, that’s probably it.

If you could travel back in time and give yourself one piece of career advice, what would it be?

I’d say to myself, "Forget the money and freedom you get from doing freelance. Swap it for a place that will nurture your professional development. Or at the very least, seek out mentors or coaches who will help you build the confidence you need.” Instead, I spent years on my own learning through trial and error. As a result, I picked up some bad habits that was hard to un-do. Sometimes I wonder whether my career would have advanced much faster but in reality, I think it all balances out in the end and you develop in the way you need to.

What’s on your playlist right now?

I used to be an obsessive music freak but for the last few years I haven’t had the time. So out of laziness I now use Spotify’s Discover Weekly. I pick out favourite tracks and add them to my starred playlist. The current top three is 2 for C by Anenon, Indian Hair by BbyMutha, and All the Stars by Kendrick Lamar and SZA.

What do you do to switch off from work?

A list in no particular order:

  • Cycling along the canals around east London
  • Board game days with friends
  • Indulging in my addiction to video games
  • Binge-watching TV series
  • Working on new nail art designs
  • Spending time at home with my aging kitty

In a world where anything is possible, what is the single most exciting thing you would do with technology?

I would vote for time travel!! I love thinking about the future and what technology might bring. It would be amazing to see the state of technology in 500, 1,000, or even 10,000 years from now! Though considering the paradox of time travel, it’s probably more likely we’ll be able to download our consciousness to a cloud. I’m happy to settle for that as a back-up option. Of course, that would only be if the ethics were sorted or I didn’t get bored after 1000 years. Otherwise, I imagine I’d end up in some sort of Black mirror-esque nightmare.

What drives or inspires you?

Learning, new experiences, creativity, and cultivating gratitude and kindness to stay happy.

Where next?