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Innies, Outies & other Tales from the Trenches


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Presentation made during Electronic Media Fest at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC 2004 about my career trajectory from library school to startup to corporate america during the evolution of User Experience as a discipline.

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Innies, Outies & other Tales from the Trenches

  1. 1. Innies, Outies & Other Tales from the Trenches Samantha Bailey, Vice President, Information Architecture COPYRIGHT Wachovia CONFIDENTIAL
  2. 2. For the Record •I’m a librarian who works in digital spaces •Currently: VP, Information Architecture for Wachovia •Pioneer in IA: First employee of Argus Associates, spent 5 years there developing their operation & methodology •MILS from University of Michigan, 1996
  3. 3. The Librarian Action Figure is a joke (sort of) but finding the right career path isn’t…
  4. 4. Today’ s Talk I promise! •An abbreviated look at my career path & an overview of Information Architecture as a “Career” •Reflections on working inside a large company vs. a small company •Reflections on working as an internal employee vs. an external consultant (an innie vs. an outie) •Free Advice (caveat emptor)
  5. 5. My smoothsailing, trouble-free, straight forward, skyrocketing trajectory to wild success or not.
  6. 6. •College: Philosophy Major/ Women’s Studies Minor •Borders Books clerk (desperate for cash) •Planned Parenthood (planning to get a Masters in Public Health and do Good Works) •Library Studies (planning to get a Masters in Library Science and do Good Works) •Reference Librarian (Abject Failure) •Information Architect (!!!) for entrepreneurial start-up •Dot-bomb statistic (company collapsed in 2001) •Unemployed (humbling) •VP at Wachovia (got to work on redesign) (!!!) •Next????
  7. 7. What is Information Architecture? •Art & Science of organizing information to make it more findable, manageable & usable •Popularized by Rosenfeld & Morville text “Information Architecture for the WWW” •Enables me to apply my background in classification, information retrieval and vocabulary control to the web •Exciting mix of new & old
  8. 8. Want to learn more? •Asilomar Institute for Information Architecture ( (job board) •SIG IA Listserv ( •Monthly “IA Cocktail Hour”
  9. 9. A few things I’ ve learned along the way…small company vs. big company
  10. 10. My small co experience… PROS CONS Great for learning & skill building—wear many hats Can be more entrepreneurial, try new things Great environment for self starters May be hard to specialize—wear many hats Will likely have to do “scut” work Fewer politics, Less bureaucracy May not develop critical political savvy Terrific sense of belonging & “family” Fewer resources, lower budgets, less stability May not get a lot of direction
  11. 11. My BIG CO experience… PROS CONS Benefits, benefits, benefits Bureaucracy is the price tag for all that security… Resources Access to those resources Mergers & Acquisitions Mergers & Acquisitions Room for growth, lateral transitions, regional & national relocation Stability Less empowerment Stagnation
  12. 12. A few things I’ ve learned along the way…innie vs. outie
  13. 13. What’ s an innie?
  14. 14. Innies PROS CONS Get to eat your own dog- Have to eat your own food dog food Build industry subject matter expertise Don’t find actuarial tables scintillating? Too bad! Long-term relationship building critical No respite from annoying colleagues Get to see projects all the way through to Launch Have to live with projects after the honeymoon wears off Often less respected in your own organization than consultants
  15. 15. Outies PROS Consultants are gods CONS Everyone hates consultants (see: Dilbert) Time is more valued by your colleagues Billable Hours Outsider perspective Outsider status limits trust, access to info Don’t have to eat your own dog food. May not see your projects launch Project ends & you get to Less depth go home Always a new project Frenetic pace Travel Travel
  16. 16. FREE Advice! • Be open to learning from all corners— “humble” jobs have value too • Persistence always pays • Seek a variety of settings and approaches—versatility is marketable • Focus your attention on doing the job at hand to the very best of your abilities rather than longing for the desired next step • Spend 80% of your time doing your job and 20% of your time managing your career— networking, self promotion • Your career path will probably be very different from your plans & expectations
  17. 17. Contact Info. Thank You! Samantha Bailey