“Keeping an open mind and being empathic are two of the most important things in my life. It shapes how I view conflict, how I interact with young learners as part of my job, and how I ultimately grow in my career,” Nikita Valluri, UX Researcher, says, explaining how this life skill helped expand her thoughts, knowledge, and ideas.
“The ability to think of things from various angles and viewpoints made me more adaptable and understanding as a researcher and that’s what brought me here,” she adds.
Nikita joined BYJU’S in October 2019. Her role here entails reporting child-centric insights to different stakeholders to help them make product-related decisions. The impact of these insights differs from improving the user experience of an existing product to driving product vision. It’s also an inspiring experience, explains the techie, being able to speak to so many young learners and amplify their voices as to what exactly they are looking for in a BYJU’S product.
“I’m amazed at how open and candid these conversations with the children are. It’s inspiring and at the same time a serious responsibility.”
Interestingly, Nikita’s own journey as a UX Researcher has been exciting and less than conventional. Coming from an engineering background, it was a chance encounter while working on a thesis during her post-graduation that led her to design research. In her own words, she had not heard about design research until she was pursuing Masters of Engineering by Research at the Asian Institute of Technology.
“At that time, I had no idea what design research is. During my post-graduation, I had to work on my thesis from scratch on topics that interested me the most. I used to watch a lot of TED talks and I came across a woman who called herself an ethnographer, and that’s when I started doing my research on ethnography and Design Research,” she says.
While this experience spurred Nikita’s curiosity, she was still unsure of what a job in UX research actually entailed, and importantly, how to enter it. Naturally, she started reading about UX research and networking with people in the field – and that’s how she stumbled upon the role at BYJU’S.
“After understanding UX research I was drawn to shaping people’s experiences. I’ve found that my technical background has opened doors to unique types of research that I may not have otherwise explored,” quips the BYJUite.
But being a researcher is no easy feat. Nikita believes that it not only requires a solid understanding of analytics and the design process but also soft skills such as adaptability and a willingness to collaborate.
“Creating a work culture in BYJU’S where the focus is on research and empathy is important for us. It also ensures that we’re always creating products after understanding the needs of young learners,” she adds.
But one thing Nikita is most proud of is how her team has evolved since she joined. What started as a five-member team has now progressed into a 15-member team. “I remember having a chat with my manager recently on how we have grown and have more creative minds in our team. For a researcher, this means greater collaboration, which is an important skill. It helps you communicate efficiently and ensure that the product meets both business goals and user expectations, she says.
Another gratifying moment, Nikita shares, is the way her team has kept the camaraderie and the dynamic work culture in BYJU’S alive in these unique times. “I feel like I share a bond with every member of my Research Team even though I haven’t met them in person. We catch up, we discuss ideas and talk about the usual stuff to keep the office vibe going,” she says.
Sharing a few words of advice for those venturing into UX research, Nikita says just keep an open mind.
“Always be open-minded, it helped me grow in my career. Your passion is what matters, if you are passionate about something just build your skills and achieve it,” she says.
And for those who are apprehensive of starting out in the field without any prior experience, Nikita shares a quick tip.
“I see a lot of aspiring UXers believe that they need a lot of experience to be a part of a place like BYJU’S,” she shares, “But that’s not always the case. One strategy that has helped me is focusing more on my skills and seeking opportunities that helped me hone my human-centered research lens and approach.”
Damini is passionate about photography and travelling. She is happy to have her camera in hand to click random pictures. Always searching for answers about the chaos around her, she spends most of her time reading and learning new things. She also loves listening to music but is a pathetic singer herself. From being a journalism student to working with several media houses, she hopes to keep narrating compelling stories all her life. Write to her at [email protected] or [email protected]
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