Episode 30

Zuzana Dobro: Founder of The WHO Method

I am Slovakian, born in former Czechoslovakia. As a kid, I was told I’d never be able to leave my country and see the world or have the freedom to be whoever I wanted to be. After the Iron Curtain came down, I moved to England, speaking very little English with only £200 in my pocket. I gradually made my way by working in the creative industry and got an offer to join a big corporation. I had my “dream job” as an interaction and UX designer, but still, something felt odd… I had this unstoppable desire to fulfill my childhood dream to travel around the world, so I quit the “security”, traveled solo for 2 years, and even backpacked to Antarctica. After my trip, I merged my passion for adventure travel and human evolution with my design and creative problem-solving Expertise, and I embarked on the journey of entrepreneurship. I’ve created The WHO Method to help entrepreneurs, coaches, authors, experts and agencies to get to know their customers deeply and to avoid the pitfalls of attracting the wrong people.

Zuzana enjoys blending cultural experiences with creative disciplines to answer today’s challenges around interaction, visual language, media, and communication.

Her specialisms include:
• Design Thinking & Innovation Facilitation
• Design Sprint 2.0 Certified
• Customer Research
• Customer Experience
• Lean UX Design & Architecture
• Agile & User-Centered Design
• Interaction Design & Prototyping
• Interactive Advertising & Marketing

She has been responsible for leading design for high-revenue clients with bespoke campaigns running across UK, EMEA and global markets. She has worked on a wide range of international promotions and multichannel digital experiences as well as smaller-scale projects and pitch work.

Transcript of the episode:

*this transcript is generated automatically*

Alex Romanovich (00:00):
Hi, welcome to our studio. Globaledgetalk, Alex Romanovich. It is September 15, 2020, and we have a wonderful guest by the name of Zuzana Dobro with us, Zuzana Dobro, which means in English kind and kindness. She is a wonderful, wonderful senior independent, interactive designer very much involved with CX and UX, which means customer experience and user experience. And we’re going to talk about her career in large companies like Microsoft, and Lexus Nexus, MSL Group in Spain. We’ll talk about women in technology, innovation, and design Zuzana, welcome to our studio,

Zuzana Dobro (00:46):
Alex, thank you so much for having me.

Alex Romanovich (00:50):
So let’s start from the beginning, I guess. Tell me more about yourself and I mean, I know you and I spoke a while ago and your background was extremely interesting, very intriguing as it pertains to innovation, entrepreneurship. You’re an entrepreneur yourself. You’ve worked with very large companies globally, and then you started your own business. Tell us a little bit more about your early years, so to speak, and how you sort of came into the design area and so forth.

Zuzana Dobro (01:20):
Yeah, sure. So I was born in Slovakia, but when times were still in the communism, it used to be a Czechoslovakia, but I’m Slovakian. And I was always told that I would never be able to leave the country because when I was a kid, it was still a form communism. And my upbringing was probably very different to most of the listeners that are listening right now. And I was very lucky to be one of the first generations when the big change came, when the iron curtain came down. I always wanted to see different places and just to see for myself how it is, how are the different countries, so that was one of my childhood dreams to really go and travel, or even just to go to a foreign land that doesn’t speak my language.

Zuzana Dobro (02:17):
And when I was 18, I actually ventured out in, I came to London, to UK on my own, with only 200 pounds in my pocket, not knowing anyone. And I guess my curiosity was so much bigger than a fear, because when I now look back, I was like, what was I thinking, like not having anyone. I didn’t have any security in here, but I was just super curious. And also I really wanted to learn English better because when I was growing up, I was not able to learn different languages apart from a Russian. So that was another big desire of mine really, to master a different language. So I came to London and just slowly started to improve my English and really think about what I would like to do further and creative field was always part of my life. And I really soon realized that better I spoke better chances I had to get actually an opportunity to break into the creative industry and do a design work, anything really. I was thinking about arts also, but I was always gravitating more towards the design and problem solving. And I started my career in here in London and in a very small creative boutique studios. So that’s where my beginning

Alex Romanovich (03:47):
I love those amazing immigrant stories. I’m an immigrant myself came to the United States a long time ago, 40 years ago from Soviet Union. So we can almost relate. And I absolutely love the stories of, by the way my wife is from Slovakia as well, so I visited your country, your homeland many, many times. And I’ve been to Prague, Czech Republic, obviously they split Slovakia and Czech Republic. But I just love these stories of immigrants and who achieve a lot, who are being very entrepreneurial, being very, very innovative in a way that’s almost a survival, right? Almost the inactive survival. Yeah, absolutely. But you started in a very small studio in London and then you progressed very quickly and then ended up in Microsoft and the Lexus Nexus afterwards and then work with some amazing very large, very well-known brands, such as Saatchi&Saatchi, and Raremark, and Prime Focus, in the TMP Worldwide, and BBH, and so many others. Tell me about that experience. Tell me about what you’ve learned as an entrepreneur, what you’ve learned as an immigrant, as a great designer, and then how you’re able to take that to very large organizations, which, by the way, could also be very bureaucratic and very process-oriented and so forth, but how were you able to adapt and become sort of a native in those large companies?

Zuzana Dobro (05:28):
One thing that I really, really respect and love about London UK is that it doesn’t matter where you are coming from. If you are passionate about your craft, if you’re passionate about something that you want to do, it doesn’t really matter, if you are immigrant or where you’re from, you will always have that opportunity because companies will always seek talent and also they love mixing it up with a different perspectives and different points of views, with different experiences. So that’s something that I really seen happening across London where it was, and for the creative industry it is a really great place to be, to get a chance and then really gained that experience really fast.

Zuzana Dobro (06:18):
And me as an immigrant, I don’t know how, if you ever thought of it this way, Alex, but I think immigrants are almost like entrepreneurs, because as you said, it is partially survival, in a very foreign lands, different customs, different everything. So I think, I had to be super resourceful from the beginning of my journey. As soon as I left my, you could call it securities, right? The things that are familiar to me, things that are safe, my countr for me. As soon as you leave that, and you embarked on a journey, which is so different to what you are used to, you have to become very resourceful. And I think entrepreneurship is exactly the same. You’re constantly solving problems. You’re constantly moving in some direction sometimes forward, sometimes to the left, sometimes you go two steps back but you are still having to deal with things.

Alex Romanovich (07:17):
So how did this entrepreneurship, how did this immigration experience help you with your design? I mean, you have to combine obviously a lot of different disciplines and I’m sure your mind is very, very complex and very creative and very innovative. How did you use that leverage experience in your design, your thinking, and let’s talk more about a custom experience, use experience as a discipline and why it’s becoming more and more important.

Links & Info

Zuzana Dobro’s Social Media Profiles:

Alex Romanovich’s Social Media Profiles:

GlobalEdgeTalk Social Media Profiles:

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