#WCW March: Hilda LeStrange

Say hello to Hilda: Product Designer, thrill-seeker and our #WomanCrushWednesday this month!

What brought you to Richmond? What do you love about RVA?

Fun fact! I grew up in Las Vegas and spent my first two years of college there at UNLV. While I was in school, my family moved to the strange and distant land of Virginia, which is how I heard about VCU’s incredible School of the Arts. I didn’t know what to expect when I visited Richmond, but to my own surprise, I fell in love with it that first summer. I transferred to VCU, graduated and decided to stay! Richmond has so many things going for it–the charming historic houses in the Fan, the river, the big trees, the breweries and restaurants, the walk-ability and bike-ability of the city…I could go on!

 

How did you get involved in the industry?

Prior to my first job after college, I had no idea what “UX” was or that I would enjoy it so much! As a college student at VCU, my passion for storytelling and visual communication lead me to study illustration and graphic design. During my final semester at school, I took a senior portfolio class with an awesome professor, Tyler Darden, who constantly encouraged us to enter our work into competitions and attend networking events. Taking his advice to heart, I entered a few of my design pieces into AIGA’s bi-annual design show. During the award ceremony, I met a lot of great people–one of whom told me about an open position at a small software company called Unboxed Technology. A few weeks later, I had a job there as a Visual Designer! I quickly learned that designing for software is very different from designing for print…and I loved it! I loved being part of a team that created living, breathing tools that people interacted with constantly. After a while, my fascination with how and why people used our creations led me to focus not just on the digital interface but also on the problem space: What problem do our customers have, and what could we create to help solve it? When, where, and how would they interact with it? That focus is what ultimately drew me to CarMax, where I get to ask those questions every day!

 

What do you do now?

I’ve been a Product Designer at CarMax for a little over a year now. I’m part of a small product team of wonderful and intelligent people. We each have our own focus, such as product management, software development, and product design. My job as a Product Designer is to bring my team along in building a deep understanding of our customer, and use that understanding to explore the different ways in which our product could help address their needs and problems. This includes thinking of the entire holistic experience, not just the interactions with our website.

 

What are you passionate about?

When I’m not working, I like to spend as much time outside as I can. I love biking around the city, running the trails along the river, hiking and camping in Virginia’s beautiful mountains, and getting some sun on the river rocks of the James. I can always rely on nature to rejuvenate and inspire me. There’s nothing like an outdoor adventure to refresh the mind, body and soul!

 

What’s your biggest piece of advice for other women in technology?

Speak your mind and never underestimate yourself. Your opinions, ideas, and experiences are incredibly valuable! Always support and encourage yourself and others. When times get tough, stay positive and keep pushing forward.

 

What’s your most memorable outdoor adventure?

Scuba diving in the Bahamas with a shiver of sharks…yep, a group of sharks is called a shiver!


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