Charged Chats

Charged Chat with Theresa Stewart

Charged Chats are a series of interviews featuring inspiring voices from the pros. What motivates them, what inspires them, and what can we take away from their stories to charge ourselves up.

Tell us about your career path. How did you get to where you are now?

It was a long journey. After initially being rejected from Graphic Design, I entered my second choice major called Digital Design at the time. I wasn’t sure what it was, but my sister had a friend who studied it so I went with it. Over the course of of schooling I fell in love with interaction design. Once I graduated, I found myself in various jobs from enterprise application development to medical device design. After cutting my teeth at an innovation firm in Chicago, I found I really loved working with complex problems involving data. From there, I just followed my niche until I found myself at my current position at Northern Trust.

Describe your current role?

I’m currently the Design Lead at Northern Trust. I work on the product design team helping redesign legacy products and socializing design at the organization.

How do you stay motivated when you’re going through a rough patch?

That’s always tough. I find changing my focus, which doesn’t sound intuitive. I try to get out in the world more and do things away from design to reset. Even if I need to design I change mediums and go back to drawing or other more analog tactics because so much of what I do is on the computer.

Theresa Stewart giving a talk

Do you have any words of wisdom for anyone looking to follow in a similar career path?

I hope this isn’t too much, but, don’t believe the bullshit. If you’re looking to carve out your niche in design you can do it if you’re motivated. I felt so free once I stopped following other people’s paths and narratives for me and just ruthlessly went after the projects I wanted. I also learned to say no and not put up with things that were against my mission.

Best piece of advice you’ve received?

Some people are meant to follow a path, and others are meant to create their own.