The Experience Journey - Joseph Dang on Building Professional Skills and Networks

April 18, 2019
By Kim Fernandes

Joseph Dang, a recent UX graduate and Challenger at the latest COSBOA Innovation games, has used this Paddl Games opportunity to help him in the job hunt. Having recently entered the realm of full-time work, we caught up with Joseph to get his thoughts on how important continually building an experience portfolio like this is, and how Paddl experiences have helped him along his journey.

So Joseph, let’s start by letting everyone know a little bit about yourself.

My name is Joseph Thien Dang and I’m a new Melburnian - I originally hail from sunny Sydney. I’ve studied broadly, from Diplomas in Business and Fashion Business to a Bachelors in Communications and most recently User Experience Design. My diverse set of hobbies and passions have led me to thinking of myself as a really delicious cocktail (just without the bad hangover!), due to my wide variety of creative skills such as photography, content creation, design and writing.

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You started off your career in PR/Marketing and then decided to take on learning UX Design at GA. What inspired you to make a career change?

What makes someone decide to pivot industries? Hmmm, delusions of grandeur maybe? The reasons behind my exploration into Marketing and PR are the same motives that led me to UX Design - at the centre of both was a relentless curiosity for users, their behaviours and a customer-first mentality. I’m fortunate because there are a lot of transferable skills between Communications and User Experience which has allowed me to flourish in this new field! Also I believe what’s most important in your professional experiences are the soft skills you develop, such as a commitment to collaboration, ability to empathetically work with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures and stakeholder management.

We first met you a few weeks ago on Day 4 of the COSBOA Innovation Games! How would you describe this experience? Have you participated in anything similar before?

FUN! Every stage of the Innovation Games was fast paced and exciting. There really wasn’t a moment to breathe - you need to be able to think-on-your-feet and juggle a variety of hats seamlessly. I’ve never participated in an event like it before so I didn’t know what to expect - but it certainly didn’t let me down!

Your team ‘Prescribed to Win’, representing Tooradin Pharmacy, took home first place, AND you got a Special Mention Award for getting the room dancing as well! Tell us a bit more about how this pitch idea was developed. Did your team work together this interactively all day?

It was the first time we all worked together, so the usual shyness and frictions were there early on. This eroded as soon as we started to get to know the business and really dig into the problems they faced - in addition to that we realised we didn’t have much time! Our Paddl Facilitator and GrowthOps mentors were great though - they helped align our teams vision and helped us deliver the best proposal for our client.

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The decision to get the room dancing was a last minute thought that I quickly briefed the team about. Because we were the last group to present, the audience were quite tired and restless so I knew I had to change that real fast, and it worked out well in the end!

This was the biggest Paddl Games yet; with 23 separate businesses in the room, watching how the Challengers approach their work. Was this something you were consciously aware of through the day?

Yes, I was acutely aware of all the businesses and GrowthOps ambassadors there during the day. Being surrounded by so many talented and respected individuals, I made a conscious effort to take advantage of the opportunity in front of me and make myself known to them. This meant doing some proactive networking - not waiting for them to introduce themselves, but going up to people and asking about their professional journeys, adding them on LinkedIn and following up days later. The benefits of having access to so many business and thought leaders is something I’m still taking advantage of today.

After your amazing results, we’ve now heard you’ve landed a job in the UX field! Congratulations! Do you want to tell us a bit more about the role and what you’ll be doing?

I’ve just started working as an Experience Designer at a Technology consultancy called IE Digital in Richmond! I work in a cross-functional team, made up of people from various departments, to help deliver amazing digital experiences. I’m currently working on a project digitising and streamlining the ordering and delivery process for an energy provider. Their current ordering system is quite outdated and takes around 10 minutes to complete and even involves calling an offshore call-centre. After extensive research, we’ve created an online portal that bypassed a fair few redundant processes, and have reduced ordering time to within minutes - it’s great to see the impact our changes can make! How our teams are structured is quite fascinating too. I have a head of department that assists me with the more technical proficiencies of my work, a well as project lead, that oversees the whole project and deals with team deliverables.

How important was the Innovation Games experience in terms of you landing the job? Did it have an impact in any way?

The Paddl Games experience helped immensely because it was a great confidence booster leading into the interviews. I certainly am guilty of suffering from ‘imposter syndrome’ sometimes, so it was reassuring to see that I could be recognised for my abilities from experiences outside of the workplace.

What advice do you have for other Paddl users or non Paddl users looking to navigate their professional journey?

I'm a big believer in gaining experience, connections and a foot-in-the-door through opportunities like the Innovation Games. I've done heaps of other volunteer, work experience & internships, including volunteering at Fashion Week!

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All of these instances have helped me expand my network widely and broadly - where I have also gained mentors and receive guidance on how to best navigate my professional career. It's great to be surrounded by people with a similar drive! Also, it’s important to note the other Challengers in the room of an event like this, or people working with you on a short-term project, are going to be your peers and colleagues in the industry one day - you never know who you’ll run into a few years down the track, so make the most of these opportunities.

Time to get involved!

If you’re like Joseph, and looking to build your experience profile and expand your professional network through Paddl Games and many other great volunteer, internship, casual or full time opportunities, get started with your profile on paddl.com today!

Applications for Day 5 of the COSBOA Innovation Games are NOW OPEN, all you have to do is create your Paddl Profile, then add Activity Cards to showcase your experience, and you’ll be ready to go!