Vaida Pakulyte: On The Role of UX Design in Marketing

Vaida Pakulyte - Miriam Ballesteros Blog.jpg

 

When I think of someone who seems to be “doing it all,” Vaida Pakulyte no doubt comes to mind.

As a multi-passionate professional, Vaida’s had the opportunity to pursue various endeavors from the marketing world to the UX space to blogging. Her brain is constantly thinking of ways to move forward and collaborate.

Vaida grew up in Lithuania, lived in Denmark, Canada and England, and now is based in Barcelona. We met two years ago at Strands, and she’s been impressing me ever since with her energy, drive and lust for life.

In this interview, she chats about creating your own career path, the art of prioritising your energy, and where to find inspiration when you need it most.

Please give Vaida a warm welcome!

What made you decide to move to Barcelona?

I’ve moved to new countries quite a few times since I was 18, including Denmark, Canada, England and after all I’ve learned and experienced, I've come to believe that while you have the freedom to move around - you should try it.

That’s what happened with Barcelona too.

I got an opportunity to take an interesting job abroad - and I decided to go for it, even if I didn’t know a single word in Spanish, had no one in Barcelona and was used to live and work in a completely different type of culture.

It’s like going back to school again - you learn new social norms, build new habits, become more open and adaptable at the same time, plus find out what you really liked or didn’t like about the other “schools of life” you have been at.

 

You’ve been working in Digital Marketing for five years, and recently decided to make the transition to UX Design. What was the trigger that drove the switch?

I think it was a very natural progression, not a change per se.

I have always been close to design, worked in creative industries and somehow, consciously and unconsciously - have been taking the role of UX and Design “unofficially” many times. Whether it’s a birthday party organization, a landing page design or a blog article - user needs, motivations and goals were always the first in mind.

However, it was until last year that I took it more seriously, after winning Ironhack Wallapop Scholarship for UI/UX Bootcamp in Barcelona. I completed the course and learnt just a tiny fraction of what UX stands for - but it was enough to jumpstart my career in this field and combine it with communications, business and strategy background I have built so far.

All in all, it is about the synergy and collaboration in between both fields.

The key to any career change is identifying and leveraging your transferable skills.
— Vaida Pakulyte

 

What does ‘UX Design’ look like to you?

A commitment to building products, communications and experiences with the customer in mind.

Too often, products are designed only with business goals and features in mind - I believe that the best design is based upon an explicit understanding of users and constant iteration - that’s what excites me.

Think about your favorite restaurant. What makes it the best? I bet food is just a starting point, but tiny details like decor, music, friendliness of stuff create the whole experience.

That’s what UX and working in UX means to me.
 

I really admire your productivity skills, particularly how you prioritise your energy when everything is important. Do you have any time management tips for those who want to accomplish more?

For me it’s very important - not only to make better use of your time, finish the day a bit more satisfied, but also become more happy overall. It’s very simple.

I like the saying that productivity is less about what you do with your time and more about how you run your mind.
— Vaida Pakulyte

A few things I truly enjoy practising are:

Wake up a bit earlier and have “your time”. Usually people like to check updates, read email or click snooze button. For me morning is the most precious time to read a book, work a tiny bit (even 30 min) on your personal project or do something for myself - like planning a holiday. We are culmination of our habits and starting it off effectively is the key for me.

Define (and actually write down) your priorities: the key to productivity for me is deciding on the most important tasks to achieve and be realistic and accountable with yourself on achieving them. Ask yourself - what do I want to finish today, this week, this month and make yourself accountable for it.

Set habits, not goals - It’s possible to get the life you’ve always wanted, to set big goals and achieve them, as long as you understand that this isn’t magic. It simply requires daily practise. No secret.

Practise what you want to achieve.
— Vaida Pakulyte

Focus on one thing at a time - how many times we get ourselves into a situation of checking emails, notifications, messages and ending up not completing what we started? I really try not to divide my attention and instead focus to one task at hand and make tiny breaks in between to do “other” activities like checking up with colleagues and small chat.

 

Your LinkedIn and Twitter feeds are a constant source of interesting reads. Who are your favourite people and/or publications to follow?

I could probably list hundreds of people, journalists, publications and companies that I find inspiring. But to share a few: 

  • The Minimalist - I love this podcast by Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus discussing  living a meaningful life with less
  • Invision Blog - a truly great source about design, personal growth and practical tips on career development in ux and design as well
  • TED Talks - I always discover new inspiring people by listening to TED talks, here’s the last one I enjoyed by Aimee Mullins.

Some People that inspire me:

  • Seth Godin - an entrepreneur and blogger. I love the way he thinks and amazes me with his insight , encouragement. 
  • Debbie Millman - a truly great designer, desiring to contribute to the world conversation about design.
  • Elon Musk - I am really inspired by Elon’s thrilling leadership in so many companies. This guy is crazy and he showed me that the biggest risk in life is not taking a risk.

 

Can you talk about a person who has impacted your life?

I have a story to tell on this one.

Since I was a little girl, I loved Harry Potter - and guess what, Hermione was my favorite character. She is hardworking, focused, determined, passionate and fun. I even entered into competition to become the “second” Hermione in Lithuania. I won the competition and at that point it was a childish dream coming true.

However, what Emma Watson transmitted to me since I was a little girl is much more than magical tricks - she was my little personal hero.

She taught me a few things. First - your life is yours to live the way you want, always finish what you have started and take education seriously.

 

Whether it's a go-to book or a particular ritual, where do you find inspiration when you need it most?

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes.

The best way to unplug and to get new inspiration for me is by travelling and reading something new.

I refuel myself by investing in learning from the new places I go  - the culture, surroundings, people, social norms, habits and way of doing things.

You get to forget problems, and figure out things.

 

And lastly, what’s the best piece of career-related advice you’ve ever been given?

Cultivate your passion.

During our career and life, we get excited about many things - sometimes we have the motivation to keep those passions, sometimes - not.

When you discover something that aligns with your values, put all the hard work and continue to work through it, the real happiness comes.
— Vaida Pakulyte

Even if sometimes it gets boring, monotonous or less exciting, you know you have to put the attention required to create something meaningful in your career.