As a design leader with significant experience in digital, from start-ups, to established agencies and the biggest of organisations, Julia Fogelberg Bouverat is making waves. She also finds the time to commit to inspiring change and fostering the next generation of female talent. Here, we get to know more about one of the winners of the Women in Tech award and Hyper Island graduate.

The challenges and rewards of design leadership

In her role as a Design Leader and Senior Product Designer at Cognizant, a tech consultancy with 300,000 employees, Julia finds herself tackling daily design challenges with an experimentation and prototyping mindset.

“I’m currently working in a multi-disciplinary Service Design team on a project for the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (within Gov UK),” she said. “I also manage other designers, fostering their professional development (definitely one of my favourite parts of the job). The reward of doing what I do comes in the form of continuous learning and solving design problems,” continued Julia.

The impact of diverse cultural experiences

Julia already has a wealth of experiences when it comes to worldwide travel and different work environments. “Living and working in various global cities has influenced both my personal growth and career journey. For instance, having grown up in Stockholm and lived in London, Shanghai, and Sydney, it has shaped my approach to teamwork and management,” said Julia.

In her free time, Julia volunteers as a mentor. In this role she’s driven to pave the way for future female tech leaders, inspire inclusive change in closing the gender gap, and help the next generation of female talent reach the top. 

“For me, mentoring individuals from diverse backgrounds fosters a more profound connection. It’s not just about managing people but also understanding the unique cultural perspectives each person brings”.

“Additionally, moving to different countries and experiencing the loneliness that can come with it has helped me with adapting to new environments. I think that instils humility. I view this as an opportunity to find focus, create headspace, and create new connections,” explained Julia.

The future for female tech leaders

Being so heavily involved in the tech scene and as an influential figure for female colleagues, how does Julia view the path ahead? “In the envisioned future for women in tech, the scene is set with no pay gaps, shared ownership of assets/companies, and equal opportunities in venture capital,” she said.

“Boardrooms reflect diversity, and there’s a push for greater financial literacy/knowledge and increased female participation in the stock market.”

“Today, differences in income also affect investment opportunities and contribute to men owning more than women generally.”

How can Julia and others carve out a clearer path for other women in the tech industry?

“I contribute by creating awareness about initiatives like Ownershift, accounts such @femaleinvest and @feminvest, and I mentor fellow women via Cognizant, ADPlist, & BIMA to help them thrive in the tech field. I also think it’s important to work with role models to show that everyone, regardless of background, can succeed in tech.”

2023 TechWomen100 Awards winner

Julia’s inspiration and achievements were recognised this year as she was named in WeAreTechWomen’s Tech Women 100 winners list – a showcase of remarkable women within the technology sector covering a wide range of roles. “The senior leadership team at my company nominated me for the award!” explained Julia. “Apart from joining a hugely expanded network, I want to use this achievement and my newly gained motivation, passion and energy from this recognition to continue paving the way for future tech leaders through public speaking, mentoring, and of course, being an industry leader at Hyper Island.”

Creating a safe environment

As a graduate of both the Digital Media Creative program and the UX Designer Upskill course, Julia is well versed on the Hyper Island experience and the methodologies that are learned along the journey. Julia is now giving back in the form of an industry leader, where sheguides our students through the UX landscape. “It felt like a ‘full circle’ moment, being able to share the insights I’ve gathered over the last decade,” said Julia. “It made me reflect a lot on my own journey and the people who opened doors for me as well as leadership characteristics I admire, and the ones I think suck,” she continued.

For Julia, a safe and inclusive environment leads to creative magic. “The most important thing for me has been about creating a ‘safe’ environment where failure is embraced and there are no “stupid” questions. Because unfortunately, UX and tech isn’t always the most inclusive field, e.g., it’s full of fancy buzzwords. That’s how you inspire new ways of thinking, inspire leading change. Being an industry leader doesn’t mean you have the answer to every single question; it means empowering people to experiment and try new methods and tools to solve problems in new ways.”

Creating and finding inspiration

Even with all this experience under her belt, Julia is still unfailingly eager to learn and grow. “If you want more personal growth, start seeking discomfort intentionally,” she said.

“Our brains default to the safe option to save energy. Go against that. Act differently. Courage is a muscle that you can exercise. Start with the smallest things, and then expand your comfort zone gradually. An example could be greeting a stranger.”

So, that’s how we can inspire ourselves to grow as individuals. But as for external inspiration, what’s the most inspiring thing Julia has seen this year? “The #ownthegap campaign!” exclaimed Julia. “Amalie Angelskår (Forbes 30 under 30 and CMO at Mindler, a Sweden-based online therapy app) created a campaign called #ownthegap that encourages people to be open about their career gaps due to mental health or life issues on LinkedIn. So, where you’d otherwise add a job, you’ll add your mental health or life crisis. Can you imagine the difference it would make if we saw mental health crises as qualifications? Something that you overcame and made you stronger. The campaign was created to break the stigma around mental health.”

Advice for UX students of the future

As mentioned, Julia is a true brand ambassador for Hyper Island. Having experienced both sides of the coin, what advice would she pass on to the students that will or are thinking of passing through our doors?

“Hyper Island gives you the potential to skyrocket your career,” she said. “You’ll learn so much, everything from defining design principles, data analytics, rapid prototyping to Field work in UX, the research and data collection activities that Designers undertake to gather insights. You also gain access to a global network of experts and industry leaders.

In the last cohort that I led, we had guest speakers from Spotify, IKEA and Gimi (the financial literacy startup for kids). You have access to these experts; you can get inspired by their journeys and are able to ask them anything. Invaluable!”

You get to experience a blend of experiential learning, teamwork, theory, and the Hyper Island toolbox. Embrace the values such as ‘Learn by doing,’ ‘Lifelong learning,’ and ‘Lead the change’. They will stay with you throughout your career.”

Upskill your UX knowledge

Want to add to your UX Design competencies? Then take a look at what our appropriately named UX Design Upskill course has to offer.

Hyper Island
Hyper Island Shape Your Future
Article updated on: 12 March 2024