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Afternoon “T” with Ziwei

Headshot of Ziwei for the afternoon "T" series
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We have some of the most unique characters here at TTT, and Ziwei is no exception. She’s lived on her own from a young age, spent 4 months living in Argentina, been scuba diving in the Galapagos islands, and has entered many different careers before settling on this one. Ziwei takes the perfect blend of creativity and practicality, and channels this into a problem solving approach in her work. Aside from the passion she has for her craft, she also has impeccable style, and puts us all to shame.

Quick intro: 

Position: UX/UI Designer

Favourite Game: Beats Saber VR

Fun Fact: Favourite diving site – Galapagos Islands in Ecuador

Last Movie Watched: Dracula Netflix Series 

Favourite Food: Mom’s cooking and chicken wings

Tell us about yourself. What’s your story/background?

I moved to Canada when I was 19, and first started my journey in Halifax. I studied Recreational Management at Dalhousie University. It led me to an internship with City of Toronto where I helped to organize some city-wide events like “Winterlicious” and “Doors Open Toronto”. There, I discovered my passion for special event planning and after graduation, and I started to work as an event and festival planner. I loved bringing people together and seeing them have a great time.

Shortly after, I made my way over to Vancouver. Because Mandarin is my native language, I started working in places with a niche luxury clientele where I was dealing with jewellery brands, real estates, yacht and sports cars. After working in that industry for awhile, I realized that I was unhappy and those were just not the things I valued as a person. I decided I wanted to pursue something more meaningful, and inline with my personal beliefs and values. 

In 2016, I started to explore different career paths. I found a very intense digital design program at VFS, and spent a year working 9 – 15 hour days to sharpen my skills. Through the program, my graduation project – Logahead, a scuba diving log won a couple of awards and landed me my first design job. 

And that’s how I become a designer! 

How did you end up at TTT? What were your first Impressions? 

I worked in a healthcare start-up prior to TTT. Unfortunately, the company ran into financial issues and closed down the Vancouver office. Following this, I started freelancing and eventually joined TTT! 

I thought people were very open and funny. The team is very supportive. I especially enjoyed the yoga classes and the team building activities. It was great to see that the design team holds regular meetings to discuss trends in design and continuously improve the UX processes. 

What are some interesting things about yourself?

I have a personal to-do list: 100 things to do before I die. I first started the list when I was 19 and the list has been evolving with me ever since. The list includes small goals like “grow my own vegetables”, “Public Speaking with no fear”, “cry in front of a stranger” to more challenging tasks like “Master another language”, “Skydiving”, “Dive with sharks” and “Live in a country where I don’t speak the language”.

One day after saving enough money from summer jobs, I bought a one-way ticket to Buenos Aires and decided that I would live there for 4 months. So there I was, alone in Argentina, without any acquaintances, or ways of  communicating with the people around me. Eventually, I found an internship at a language school where I could work in the mornings to trade for Spanish classes in the afternoon. It wasn’t very easy in the beginning but I always thought that it was the best decision I’ve ever made. During those 4 months, I tried some of the best steaks in my entire life, learned some tango, hiked Patagonia, and most importantly, I became conversational in Spanish and have been in love with the language ever since.

With this list, I am continuously pushing myself out of my comfort zone and finding many things I love on the way.

What’s your most memorable moment working at TTT? 

I have always wanted to go to a big design conference and meet designers around the world, and last year TTT made my dream come true and sent me to SF to participate in AWWWARDS design conference. It was a great experience!

What is your secret super power? (something you’re very good at, that not everyone knows)

I am 50% introvert and 50% extrovert. In the past few years I have struggled with the complexity in my personality but now I learned to manifest and exercise it. I can become the life of a party, get along with everyone and dance like no one is watching, but also I really enjoy my alone time just reading a psychology book at home.

What do you enjoy working on the most? 

I enjoy the discovery meetings the most. Project ideation is always the most fascinating and exciting process to me. You take a problem, understand the pain points and start to map out how we can use design to solve the problem by creating architecture and flows. It’s almost like playing with Lego.

What do you like to do in your free time? 

In the ideal world, I enjoy taking my dog Charlie for hikes, watching movies, scuba diving, and reading; but in the real world, I spend a lot of my freetime working on freelance projects. This year, I would like to find more work-life balance.

Who do you look up to? (Who is your hero?) Why?

A start-up advisor that I have the pleasure of working with. He spent many years in Silicon Valley working with big tech companies, and now he is a superstar advisor and just became an Angel Investor. 

We worked together on a few projects, and he is such a great mentor to look up to. He showed me the possibilities of what a designer can be. He is very funny and direct, and can always convey his opinions constructively and effectively. His way of thinking is very holistic; he does not only think about design but also considers business decisions in the bigger picture. 

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