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  • Writer's picturePixelated People

From Lyon to London: My Story

Stuart Lo from Pixelated People with Melanie Duroux - UX Designer at Smokestak
Stuart with Mélanie Duroux, UX Designer

Stuart recently helped Mélanie Duroux, UX Designer fulfil her dream of moving to London and finding work in the thriving tech scene here. We caught up with her so she could pass on her story to other talented designers and developers to inspire them to fulfil their ambitions in 2020!

I am Mélanie, a happy UX Designer at Iris Worldwide for over a year now, and I will tell you my story. I had been dreaming of living in London for a really long time, first because I studied English literature and civilisation for 3 years, but also simply because I fell in love with this city when I first went in 2008. I was astonished by the way English people are open-minded, welcoming and non-judgemental. These were the main reasons why I wanted to experience living on the other side of the Channel at some point.

As I studied art, graphic design, and then UX design; London was an obvious great place to be, considering the thousands of artists and digital makers who come from there. Everything in UX design has been created and developed in English-speaking countries, mainly because they were among the first ones to believe in the true potential of it for businesses. It therefore became my main objective: move to London in the next year. That was at the end of my final internship, summer 2017. It took me almost a year to make the move because I wanted to gain experience and prepare everything as well as possible.

I first started to have a look at job opportunities and agencies during this year, and started to see what opportunities were out there. It basically confirmed how much this choice would be a turning point in my career. May 2018 was starting, and I was just looking at Linkedin to see if there were any interesting roles or agencies that I could contact from there. For me it was just a first step, I was far from thinking this was about to trigger the start of this project for good! This is when I saw Stuart’s post from Pixelated People on my feed about a position in a great agency in London. I thought to myself “well, you’ll have to start at some point, so let’s do it!”. Few days later we were talking on the phone, few more days later and we were organising my first Skype interview with the hiring managers from Iris Worldwide. That was just the beginning.

I was incredibly nervous, but even more excited, I was empowered by my true will to move to London, to discover new things, to learn more about UX and to actually set my first foot in a big agency (I had only worked in places with max 8 people in it). Funnily enough, I didn’t really want to work in a big agency in France, but in London I didn’t even hesitate for one second.

I had everything prepared, and as I was talking to my future manager and his, I was totally sold. They seemed really good, totally involved in the company, with everything to build in UX, and Alex needed help to do this. After the Skype interview, they invited me to a second interview in Iris’s former office, facing the Tate Modern (which was my number one memory from 2008, I loved this place so much, it sounded like a dream). Right before the interview Stuart called me to give me the latest advice and encouragement I needed to be fully ready. Not only did the interview go well, but I was totally amazed by imagining I could be part of this within the next few months if everything went well. Alex gave me a tour of the agency, and after I was out, when talking on the phone with Stuart to tell him how everything went well, he could feel how my dreams were about to come true and what it meant to me.

Well, on the less bright side of things, the travel back to Lyon (France) was a bit of a nightmare, my flight had been cancelled, I had to fly through Switzerland, then take a train and then a bus to Lyon. The whole journey took almost 24h, but it was totally worth it!

Leaving Lyon was definitely a difficult thing because I had never left the city I was born in, and I had an amazing job with a great team there. But I knew moving to London was the right decision, it had been my dream for so many years, I couldn’t wait any more.

It has now been more than a year that I’ve started at Iris Worldwide, and I can’t still hardly believe it. I have worked on big projects for international clients, I have gained skills thanks to Alex who is truly the best manager I ever had, and we definitely are making UX a bigger and bigger part within Iris. We are now a team of 3, and it is such a joy to come to work every day smiling and with great motivation.

So as a conclusion I would say that I was scared in a way, but the deep excitement that was leading me to this job and this new life in London was definitely lifting me way above being scary. I was so grateful to have met Stuart who was so supportive, motivating and truly dedicated to my project. He gave me so many good tips and cheered for me every step of the way. I would definitely recommend him and his team if you need help as I did at that time.

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