Role models' Guide
to the digital galaxy

Zaharenia Atzitzikaki

Digital designer

Lead Designer at Workable, Athens

The job

Workable is an all-in-one recruiting software solution that offers powerful online tools to source and manage candidates, wrapped up in an interface that teams actually like to use. I’ve been a member of the Workable team since its inception back in 2012.

My job as Lead Designer at Workable includes mentoring our talented product design team, as well as keeping my hands dirty with the design of new features and improvements. I’m responsible for expanding the team and making sure everyone is in a position where they can do their best work.

Since I work remotely with my team which works in-house, my role gets even more challenging. Lots of teleconferencing and clear communication is involved to get the point across without misunderstandings.

Professional beliefs
What does it take to be successful?

There’s no easy recipe for professional success apart from showing up every day. Loving what you do makes it easier, but it’s still work. I’m not a proponent of the “love what you do and you won’t work for a day” philosophy. I value professionalism and working long hours or letting work take over our lives doesn’t seem very professional to me.

When working with a team, it’s very important to trust each and every member to do their best work. Soft skills are valued; no matter how talented you are, people won’t hire you if you are rude. Having a solid professional network around you is essential, especially if you’re working alone or you’re looking for your next step.

Dealing with mistakes is never easy, but dwelling on them is even worse. I like to accept my mistakes sincerely, offer what help I can to fix the problem and go on.

Education

I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from the University of Crete, which was my dream since I was 13 years old. I started working right before I got my degree because I really liked the hands-on experience in real life projects.

I often get questions about why I went the computer science route and did not follow a more traditional design course, but I think my programming experience was actually an advantage in my career so far, since it made my work with engineers smoother.

Skills

  • Being a design lead means, first and foremost, removing the obstacles that may prevent your team from doing their best work. You have to be willing to hire people more talented than you and delegate work to them, even if you enjoy it a bit too much.
  • Leading a design team also means you have to be confident about promoting your company to attract talent. Speaking at events and keeping in touch with the community is essential. Apart from assessing the candidates’ hard skills, which is relatively easy, you also have to quickly decide if they’re going to be a good fit for the team or not.
  • An often underestimated leadership skill is the ability to defuse potentially ugly situations and have difficult conversations. Even though I’m a huge proponent of remote working, I admit that in these cases face to face meetings are much better.

Outside work

I’m passionate about sharing knowledge with the community by speaking at conferences and writing. I’ve spoken at several events about design, development and the challenges that come with remote working, while I also write about design & productivity (less often than I’d like, sadly) on my personal blog.

I’m also actively involved with the developer community in my hometown, helping with the organization of a monthly developer meetup where we discuss technology and its impact on our lives.

Apart from working and sharing with the community, I spend my days cooking, discovering new music, playing video games and laughing at cat GIFs.