We caught up with Pam Jue for our latest Alumni Spotlight, who told us all about life after graduation, helping people feel good about their finances at Capital One Labs, navigating difficult decisions, and advocating for workplace inclusion.
Catch us up with where you are — San Francisco? Are you in Cali full-time/ part-time?
I’m at Capital One Labs, and work as an experience designer. In a nutshell, I experiment with solutions that help people feel good about their money and life, regardless of their financial status. I’m currently living in San Francisco full time. I’ve been here for about a year and a half. Right after graduating, I stayed in New York, but commuted to San Francisco half the time. I was pretty exhausted from traveling so I decided to move to San Francisco.
Tell us a little about your current work and some other projects you’ve been involved in since graduating?
During my first year at the Labs, my team and I designed a money coaching service called "The Get Set" that we piloted in June 2016 in our 360 Cafe. "The Get Set" was a series of 1-on-1 and partner sessions facilitated by a money coach. These sessions provided a safe space for anyone to explore and improve their relationship with money. People talked about financially related life events and goals. They left each session with increased self-awareness and a list of action items to achieve their goals.
The results exceeded expectations, so Capital One decided to scale this service to multiple cafes. I wrote a Medium article on lessons learned and how we were able to navigate through bank regulations and constraints to quickly test the idea. My current project is an extension of this work, and we’ll be piloting it in a few weeks.
Outside of work, I volunteer with Inneract Project, a non-profit organization that empowers underserved students through design education. Earlier this year, I taught design middle school students the foundations of the design process. It was such a great experience that I decided to continue to work with IP on developing and expanding their education curriculum.
Oh and raising a puppy! A fun and challenging project.
What does a typical day look like for you? Are you spending all your time at work, or finding time for personal projects? Do you wish it was more balanced or more intense one way or another?
Every day is something new. Our teams are kept small, so I’m involved from product and business strategy to research and implementation. Labs is kind of like an incubator where we prototype concepts that look at near-future needs and tie those back to present-day needs. The interesting challenge for me is to figure out: how do we connect these products and services to the broader organization and make it sustainable?
The great thing about working for a large organization is that there are plenty of opportunities that help me grow beyond a designer. I think that’s been key for for me in balancing my work and personal projects. I’ve managed to find ways to pursue both at work.
What were the most telling/important moments since you left school? Have you taken any big risks? Did they pay off the way you imagined?
The first important moment was deciding my next step after graduating. It was a challenge because most of my focus was trying to make the “right” decision. I made countless pros and cons lists, talked to anyone who would listen, but in the end there wasn’t a clear choice. It got to the point where I just had to choose something to know if it was right for me.
I chose Capital One because I knew it was an environment that allowed me to try and fail at many things. I’m glad I chose it because it’s been a great learning experience. From that moment, I’ve taken the same approach to a lot of my decision making. I tried more things, even if there wasn’t a clear path, it would lead me to something else.
This was the reason I decided to try teaching, facilitate workshops, do more public speaking, and start side projects. They all taught me valuable lessons about myself.
Is there anything/anyone out there really inspiring you right now? A designer? Company? Artist? Musician? How has their work influenced yours?
I just finished reading the book Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. This book was inspired by their "Design Your Life" class they teach at the d.school at Stanford. The premise of this book is about applying the design process to discovering and creating the career path you want.
I’ve been using that concept in a lot of my work at Capital One. We’ve designed tools, inspired by design and life coach frameworks, that allow people to design the relationship they want with their money. The design process is a powerful tool, and I like the idea of making it accessible so people can apply it to their lives however they like.
What’s next for you?
Ever since graduating, I’ve been interested in finding ways to connect my thesis project around diversity and inclusion into my current work. In addition to the work I do around financial inclusion, I’m interested in workplace inclusion. I’ll be giving a talk at Interaction 17 that focuses on how to create inclusive teams. So much emphasis is put on the user and business needs, which are important, but rarely on the team’s needs.
I’m also experimenting with a workshop that addresses challenges for women in the workplace and how to solve for them. I feel like there’s a huge opportunity now because people are willing and curious enough to have those hard conversations around diversity and inclusion.