Barcelona, Spain 🇪🇸
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#052

Connor Ashton

Memorisely Bootcamp Teacher

Hi, I'm Connor! I'm a Product Designer at TravelPerk and a teacher at Memorisely. I love all things design, music, football, hiking, and coffee ☕️
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Where are you from? Where are you based?

I'm from the UK, but I moved to Barcelona, Spain about a year ago for a new role (and the sun, of course, 🌞). I love it over here and the Spanish way of life really suits my personality!

What led you to Memorisely, and how did you land a spot on the team?

What feels like a super long time ago now, I used to have 1:1s with Zander back when Memorisely was a little bit smaller and there was a little bit of space on the calendar (haha!) I also took part in the UX/UI Design Bootcamp and the Design System Bootcamp and just loved everything about them. The energy in the classroom was incredible and the material we were covering blew me away. It's a great feeling to come out of each session super motivated and energized.

I can't remember exactly how I discovered Memorisely but I love being a part of the community and making friends all over the world. It's great to see so many familiar faces in Slack (and new ones!) and see everyone cheer each other on and celebrate our wins together.

When Zander announced that they were looking for new teachers to join the team, I was super keen about the opportunity and messaged. After some really fun interview rounds, I came on board the team (and what an incredible team is it to be a part of!) I can't wait to teach my first class this February

How have previous experiences impacted you and prepared you for this role both personally and professionally?

Great question! I've had a bit of a squiggly career path which has actually benefitted me quite nicely as it has allowed me to see things from a 360 point of view.

I came into the "tech" world by being interested in all things start-ups and wanting to create my own. I attended all kinds of events and met all kinds of people. To build out the vision I had for my startup I had to... learn how to build stuff. This led me down the path of becoming an iOS Developer which I absolutely loved, being able to take your ideas and turn them into reality was like a superpower 🦸 I ended up building the app I wanted to and then that got me into a job working as an iOS Developer for a super popular brand in the UK.

Over time though I found myself enjoying more and more the design side, and staring at Xcode and Stack Overflow less and less. I always enjoyed the frontend side of iOS Development and had taught myself how to design naturally through creating my own apps. I would devour books on how to do really cool animations on iOS and would always have Sketch and Xcode open simultaneously.

Eventually, though I wanted to just focus on becoming a great product designer. I joined my first role as a Product Designer for a really cool startup that had about 8 people at the time and I was their first design hire. It was an amazing experience, a great company and I learned a ton in the role. Being a startup it was a really fast pace, there was plenty of challenges and plenty of hats to wear.

I wanted to keep on pushing myself as a Product Designer so I moved to TravelPerk to work alongside a world-class design, product, and engineering team. It's a much bigger team with a really cool structure. We work in "squads" which is basically a small and agile team that focuses on one particular area of the platform/business. This allows us to be really focused on making an exceptional product and having a solid design process. We are also collaborating with the engineers to build out our design system Suitcase which is super exciting.

Walk us through your typical day?

I have a routine I pretty much always stick to on weekdays, first thing I do when I get up is some exercise - I really find it just starts the day off right.

Then on to my favorite time of the day, my morning coffee. Right now my setup is a V60 pour-over coffee with the beans straight from my local coffee shop. Always happy to talk coffee and coffee set up if you want to connect!

After that, I make a to-do list for the day and also go through what I did yesterday to be ready for stand-up, I'll also check slack and emails to see any meetings I have for the day so I can block out focused design time (game-changer is putting this in your diary so everyone can see when you're working on designs)

After stand-up I normally have meetings throughout the day combined with design work, I always make time for an afternoon walk for coffee. I have some of the best coffee shops in Barcelona on my doorstep so I am a bit spoilt for choice — recent favorites have been Syra, Federal, and a new one that has opened 2 seconds from my front door called The Coffee. I recommend them all if you find yourself in BCN.

After lunch, I try and have focus time with headphones on to get work done. I work until about 5 or 6 and then have dinner, we've recently tried being more veggie so we are loving roasting tin meals, so good! After this, I tend to watch TV. We're normally binging a new Netflix program or film and are always on the lookout for something new — would love some recommendations!

At night I always try and get my 8 hours — I love to sleep, so it's not an issue 😄. I normally read myself to sleep. Recently, I've started reading Spanish books to try and help me master the language 🇪🇸

What's your best advice for overcoming challenges in the workplace?

I often think the best way to overcome being stuck on something is to step away from it and take time to think. Whether this is taking a break to walk around your neighborhood, or grabbing a coffee — sometimes distance is a good way to get clarity. We can spend our time staring at a screen all day and sometimes the key is to come back with a fresh set of eyes.

Also, remember that you don't need to have all the answers, often the best work takes place when you lean on and involve other people in your team. You could even reach out within the Memorisely Community.

Learn UX/UI live →

Care to share your workspace setup?

I find it hard to work in one spot all day, plus me and my girlfriend share this work set up - so I tend to move from the desk to the terrace, back to the desk, about 6 times a day. I think working outside is one of the best perks of remote working.

And your go-to or must-have apps?

Figma, Notion, Slack, and Spotify are my daily go-to's. and Youtube, but I'm constantly un-installing and re-installing it when I find myself spending too much time scrolling!!

What product recently blew your socks off?

I tried coming up with something original, but to be honest and as much as it might be cliche to say an Apple product at this point - I've recently picked up a pair of the AirPods Pro and have been super impressed with them. I've used them every day since.

I really appreciate products that blend seamlessly into your life and just fit around you perfectly. I'm constantly moving between activities, locations, and devices and the Airpod Pros have just kept up perfectly. I can easily go from listening to workout music on my phone during my morning exercise to a video call with the team on my MacBook. I can activate the noise cancellation when I'm focusing on design work, and switch back to transparency mode while listening to podcasts whilst walking to the shop. They just work. Really well 👏

Share your "can't live without" productivity tip or hack?

I'm a massive fan of the Pomodoro Technique — breaking working time into 25m intervals with 5-minute breaks, followed by a longer 30-minute break after a few cycles.  I use the Flow App on my Macbook and it's perfect.

Also, maintaining a design kanban board in Notion with everything I need helps to really make the working day more focused and it feels great moving things into the done column. ✅

Name one thing you recently learned that surprised you.

Since moving to Spain, I had to leave my family dog, Mylo, behind and have been trying to chat with him on Facetime. After constantly being ignored when trying to get his attention I took to google and I learned that dogs can't comprehend faces on FaceTime because of the small size — they're used to you being so much bigger. This makes sense and makes me feel better for him giving me the cold shoulder each time I ring home!

What's your favorite thing to do outside of the virtual office?

You would almost always be able to find me searching for good coffee and brunch in Barcelona. If I'm not there I'll more than likely be out exploring somewhere. I recently hiked Montserrat and it was great!

Share your current go-to tunes.

Right now I am listening to Leon Bridges on repeat 🕺

Here's my Memorisely Mixtape that I created 👇

Three pieces of advice for breaking into the UX/UI Design field?

  1. Have a solid design process — the more you can follow a process and explain how you got from A-B-C not only makes life as a designer easier but makes interviewing so much easier.
  2. Practice each day — this can be a lot of things: Recreate designs to hone your UI design skills, read design books and blogs on your commute when you catch a train, when visiting a museum, could you make the layout better and easier? Instead of passively scrolling the next time you open up an app, take the time to think about the decisions they made — why do you think they did it this way? Can you think of a better approach they could test?
  3. Be a part of a community — build connections and friends that may one day naturally lead you to a great opportunity and keep you up to date on the happenings in the industry and motivated to keep growing.

Thanks for reading my story!

Barcelona, Spain 🇪🇸

Connor Ashton

Memorisely Bootcamp Teacher

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