At UnitedHealth Group we’re passionate about constantly evolving the technology we use and the way we use it. Our elite technology team is helping millions of our members around the world receive care. Given the scale and responsibility of the work we are doing, our ongoing commitment to innovation in this area is critical. It makes for an exciting, innovative work environment.
We put a series of questions to UX Manager Patrick, from our Dublin office. As well as his learning more about his day-to-day role, we asked what it’s like to work at Optum, why he chose UnitedHealth Group and what advice he would give someone just starting out in their technology career.
How long have you been with Optum and what attracted you to the company?
I’ve been with Optum, part of the UnitedHealth Group family of businesses, over 7 months now. I can't believe that. They say time flies when you are having fun – so very true. Why Optum? The people first and the challenge second. During my interview process I was very impressed by the passion shown by those I met – they absolutely loved working for Optum and had been with the company for some time, had grown within the company and continue to love what they do. That's so important to me – I want to be surrounded by people who love what they do and a company who reward and encourage that behavior. I now see this every day here and personally I attribute this to our values.
Tell us a little more about your role and what you do on a day to day basis.
I am a UX Manager with the Optum User Experience Design Studio. We are a global team, but here in Dublin I've been tasked to establish our local studio of designers and researchers. I've already built the most amazing and talented team around me. I'm very proud of the work we've done to date and the difference we are making by designing solutions around people first.
There is no such thing as a typical day for me. My team can be working on several projects at once so I like to touch base with my project leads in the mornings when it's quiet. Working with US colleagues we tend to have our cross team collaborative sessions in the afternoons.
What do you like best about working as a UX designer?
It comes back to connections. The role of a UX designer is to understand the needs of everyone. You have to connect product teams to development teams. And most importantly ensure everyone has a connection back to a person using our products or services. This connection back to and with everyone invested is what I love.
What’s the most challenging part of your role?
Honestly, it’s ensuring we never forget why and who we are designing and building our solutions for. Sometimes time constraints or business reasons can dictate a different solution – which is when myself and my team have to work harder to champion the user. The shift to human centered design can feel odd to some – which is why we are here – to direct and guide.
You’re building a team here in Dublin, why would you recommend a career with Optum?
I would recommend it for the same reasons I joined – you are joining something BIG, which means there is great potential to design solutions which have real impact over many people. We are a tight family here in Optum Ireland, but we are part of a very large global Optum community. The scale and pace at which we operate is large and fast. There is potential everywhere to shine and make an impact. Oh and the Dublin office location couldn’t be better.
What type of qualities do you look for in someone interested in joining your team?
User Experience is at its core a discipline focused on people; how they use, want to use and how their life is impacted by using a product/service/solution etc. So firstly, you need to be inquisitive, to ask why and to actively listen to and observe people. Secondly, it’s all about human connections, so you need to be able to show compassion and empathy. Thirdly you need to be a storyteller – I find the best UX professionals are the most engaging people to listen to. Lastly you can’t be stubborn, a UXer is open to change, is continually learning and refining their opinions and awareness based on others.
You recently took part in a photo shoot with Optum. How was that?
I LOVED it. My passion is blogging, connecting my life with others. I love to share my stories and experiences and I have been doing this for years through videos and blog posts. Taking part in the photoshoot was an extension of this. I was able to let fellow Optum employees and potential future employees see what I do and why I do it. We somehow managed to get that one day of sun in Ireland for it, which made the city look stunning.
What do you do to switch off and wind down?
I haven’t quite mastered switching off. But when I do – I like to board a plane and get away. I travel a lot and find the planning and adventure of visiting a city a great way to switch off. So far this year I’ve visited London, Stockholm, Manchester and Glasgow. I have many more cities on my ‘to visit list’ throughout the rest of this year.
If you could travel anywhere for a day, where would you go and why?
New York City – it’s the city I’ve spent more time in after Dublin. I get so much inspiration from seeing a big city just work. The organised chaos of people moving through and surviving in an urban jungle. It’s somewhere I feel at home. I find I can relax in a crowd, I don’t have to think, I just get carried away in the movement of the city – it sounds odd, but it’s a city I feel very drawn to and get so much energy from every time I return.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
It’s extremely difficult for me to highlight one person. I take inspiration from many sources including people, places, architecture and music. Too many to list here. Inspiration for me involves some kind of emotional connection and not a day goes by without me feeling a connection and being inspired. So for me it’s not as simple as one core figure in my past or present.
What would you say to someone just starting out in their technology career?
Never stop learning and never settle. I started off as a software engineer and through various projects over many years I realised a career in user experience was for me. Use your strengths and passions to grow into your career and keep growing through learning to make a real difference.
Any final words of advice?
Don’t be afraid to take chances, experience will always be gained no matter what the outcome. Whether you are starting off your career or looking for change – the fact you are looking means you are searching for something different to now – embrace that and take a leap, or two.
For more information about Patrick, visit his profile here: