Thoughtworker Spotlight: Mandy K Yu

Thoughtworks Canada

Thoughtworks Canada

May 5, 2023

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Two images of Mandy, one smiling at the camera and the other holding heartshaped glasses

Mandy K Yu is a creative problem solver, talented builder and, what she’s most loved here at Thoughtworks, a leader. Mandy has had such an impact on our organization, she won an award for her impact on Thoughtworkers last year. When she’s not soaring acrobatically through the air with aerial tricks, you can find her designing, defining and building better product experiences. As a Principal Product Designer and Manager, Mandy leverages her expertise to inform clients about product strategy, drive human-centred design and deliver impactful products. With her commitment to collaboration and mentorship, Mandy shares her insights as a seasoned mentor in design communities like HexagonUX, DesignX and Designers & Coffee.

When she is not taking products from discovery to delivery, you can find her cooking new dishes and designing and building imaginative homes in the Sims 4. So, based on her skills and interests, can you guess her favourite product? Here’s a hint, it allows her to stay flexible, versatile and organized. Read on to find out!

Tell us about what you do in 50 words or less.

I’m a Principal Product Designer and Manager who’s committed to user research, collaboration and mentorship. With a wealth of experience in design and tech education, I’ve helped startups and enterprise clients define, design, and build better experiences. At Thoughtworks, I leverage my deep expertise to inform product strategy, drive human-centred design, and grow the design practice.

Over the years, I’ve worked with organizations including Wealthsimple, Rogers, RBC, BrainStation, LoyaltyOne and Loblaw Digital, always bringing a blend of creativity and practicality to every project. I’m dedicated to empowering other designers and product leaders, having served as a seasoned lecturer and mentor in design communities like HexagonUX, DesignX and Designers & Coffee.

What’s the most interesting challenge you’re working on?

When a new project kicks off at a consultancy like Thoughtworks, we often find ourselves launched into the client world with fresh eyes learning how to; navigate the ins and outs of their organization, adjust approaches to fit different working styles and industries and build rapport with stakeholders. Starting every project is a journey, with its own unique set of challenges and opportunities – but ultimately, the trust between you and the client can make or break success, and developing that trust can happen in different (and sometimes unclear) ways.

What inspired you to have the career you have today?

I’ve always been creative, hungry to create, tinker, and explore – through visual, musical or written media. Through school, I realized that my love for problem-solving could be harnessed in a professional setting – I see the process of design thinking and product development as “creative problem solving” – a way to take an idea and turn it into a tangible, useful product.

At Thoughtworks, we pride ourselves in working with diverse clients through ambiguous product spaces by asking impactful questions, deep diving into problems and leveraging cross-functional teams. By working with other creative individuals and subject matter experts, I’m able to put these skills into action.

What achievement are you most proud of in your career to date?

In 2017, when the opportunity came up to spearhead the launch of a full-time, in-person, intensive UX program in Vancouver, I jumped at the chance. My first cohort as a Lead Educator featured an intimate group of students who were all women. I was able to scale, author and develop all aspects of programming including curriculum content and evaluation processes, while teaching in hybrid learning environments and actively contributing to a thriving design community in the West Coast. I was 25, at the time.

If you could go back in time and give yourself career advice, what would it be?

Cultivate and nurture relationships with the right people – the people who help you grow, the people who advocate for you and the people you enjoy working with. Surround yourself with those who are smarter than you and those who challenge you – these are catalysts for growth.

The people I’ve met at Thoughtworks have been the most kind, intellectual and ambitious practitioners I’ve had the chance to work with – they inspire me every day and I’ve been able to grow my career tremendously and make meaningful friendships.

What do you love to do outside of work?

When I’m not taking products from discovery to delivery, you can find me cooking new dishes (but mostly eating), designing and building imaginative homes in the Sims 4, watching horror/sci-fi flicks and doing acrobatic and aerial tricks.

If you were stuck on a deserted island, what album, movie, and book would you take with you?

Album – Vega Intl. Night School by Neon Indian
Movie – Mad Max: Fury Road by George Miller
Book – Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones 

And finally, what’s your favourite product and why? 

Notion is by far my favourite tool. Its versatility and power allow me to effortlessly build, customize and visually organize all my notes, data, and content. From task and project management to personal finance and travel planning, I rely on it for all things productivity, both in my professional and personal life.

Three images of Mandy, one posing in the middle of Lake Joffree, middle of her smiling at the camera amongst greenery and the third is her sitting down and smiling at the camera in rollerblades.

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