DevelopHER User Experience Award 2017


winnerI am so pleased to announce that I received the DevelopHER User Experience Award 2017.  The sponsor-funded ceremony was held on 29th November at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge, and was attended by (what looked like) hundreds of tech industry professionals from across the UK’s East Anglia region.

Cambridge Corn Exchange
Cambridge Corn Exchange

I came to the event with my baby son, who is 8 weeks old, and my UX Designer colleague from the EBI, Gabby Yordanova.

Mummy and baby Cham at the DevelopHER awards ceremony

developher jenny gabby

Stage shock – collecting the award

My acceptance speech was not polished, because I wasn’t expecting to win since: (a) there was such capable competition; and (b) I hadn’t heard of DevelopHER before, so I knew I didn’t have a particularly strong network in this community.

On stage to collect the award and give an acceptance speech

Laura North from the sponsor company, The User Story, introduced the UX award explaining that the key aspects to user experience design are empathy and asking “why?”.  Laura then announced the award winner and presented me with a little glass trophy of a star. When I stood up there, the lights were so bright (and pink!) that I couldn’t see anyone in the audience, and felt stage fright and bewilderment!  I have forgotten most of what I said, but if I had been well prepared it would have thanked a lot more people.  It would have been something more like this:

The Speech (which didn’t happen on the night, but better late than never!)

And the winner is…

Jenny Cham….

“Wow thank you, that’s a nice surprise!  So, my excuse for not having a decent speech is that I am a mother of three kids under five, and haven’t had a full night’s sleep since 2011 – so for late nights out in evening dress, I’m not the best.

However, let me say a few thank yous – because, of course, my work always involves big contributions from many others:

  • I thank my employer of 8 years, the European Bioinformatics Institute in Hinxton on the Genome Campus, and the my close colleagues in the Web Development Team.  I joined the EBI in 2009 when there was no UX capability at all, and I had no UX experience.  But my colleagues and bosses have been receptive to my ideas and ways, and will the help of other UX designers who joined along the way, we now have 8 FTEs and probably more in the near future.  This change in culture towards ‘design first’ is great to see.
  • Thanks to Open Targets, which is the first public private partnership of its kind to create a state-of-the-art free web platform for drug discovery scientists.  It involves the EBI, Sanger Institute, GSK and Biogen – and through it, I have learned so much; especially how to win new souls over to believing in a full life-cycle UX design process.
  • Thanks to the Pistoia Alliance not-for-profit alliance of life science companies, vendors, publishers, and academics that work together to lower barriers to innovation in R&D.  I am part of the UX for life sciences initiative, which includes 50 expert UXers from 20 organisations in pharma, heath, software and tech.  We are working on bespoke UX toolkit for pharmaceutical R&D that will be freely available.  This initiative has given my work great exposure and promises great things in future.

This award is very gratefully received.  The recognition it brings will help me to have more confidence going forward in my future plans in UX design and beyond.

I’ll end with just 2 thoughts:

The first, you may agree, is that I feel truly blessed to be working in an industry that is suitable for remote working.  This flexibility means that in future I can make sure I can commit enough time to my growing family, and wonderful husband, and still get interesting work done too.

The second is that I hope, along with me, you will all continue to spread the message about design being a cornerstone to creating successful digital services and products that delight and deliver on users’ demands.  To do this, I plan to continue to train others and evangelise UX – through workshops, blogging, writing articles (our latest review has just been accepted this week for publication in Drug Discovery Today journal by the way), and also through open collaborations and initiatives such as the Pistoia Alliance – UX for Life Sciences (UXLS).

So thanks again for having me, and especially to the person who nominated me, thank you whoever you are!  Thanks too to Gabby Yordanova for coming to the award ceremony tonight to share the experience (and glory).  Thank you to the sponsor, The User Story, and the event organiser Vickie Allen.”

developher jenny gabby laura
Colleague Gabby Yordanova and I afterwards with Laura North, of The User Story, who presented the DevelopHER UX award 2017

A quick recap of the DevelopHER ceremony

The organiser, Vickie Allen, did an exemplary job putting together this event.  There was a professionally produced brochure detailing each award, the nominees and sponsors, from which you could learn a lot about the individuals and tech companies operating in our geographical area. The bios were great and highly complimentary – I have no idea who wrote them!

devleopher profiles in brochure
DevelopHER UX Award 2017 nominees

There was an opening talk from Red Gate and a keynote presentation from SupaPass‘s Juliana Meyer, who was last year’s overall winner.  And we heard interesting and often thought-provoking career stories throughout the evening from both the judges and award winners.

When it was all over, we came home with a loaded bag of free swag from the many sponsors – including socks, a torch and bar of chocolate; just what you need when it’s snowing and dark on your way home!

swag contents
DevelopHER award ceremony swag bag

Congratulations to all the nominees and award winners.


About Sync DevelopHER Awards

DevelopHER UX Award 2017 sponsor: The User Story

Sync DevelopHER Orgniser, Vickie Allen

DevelopHER on Twitter

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