Corinna Gage joined Kin + Carta as a Contractor in our Design Community of Practice (CoP) in May 2015. After 3 months, we offered the talented designer a permanent role as Senior Product Designer, and she’s wowed us ever since.
Corinna Gage (Senior Product Designer) at Kin + Carta
Dreaming of architecture
I watched a documentary on the BBC about Charles Rennie Mackintosh that inspired me to become an architect so I went to study at the prestigious Mackintosh School of Architecture at the Glasgow School of Art. During the course, I had the amazing opportunity to study in Paris. Afterwards, I worked in an architecture practice where I was able to work on some fascinating projects and learn continuously.
Unfortunately, the recession hit and many of us were made redundant. I loved designing for arts buildings and smaller spaces where I could let my creativity flow. At that point within the economy, the only architectural jobs that were paying well were those for large offices and skyscrapers. I felt like those projects weren’t what motivated and inspired me. They were all about maximising efficiencies and profits rather than creating an experience of a space.
A new career path
I analysed what I actually loved about architecture, which was the designing aspect. I’ve always been so passionate about finding out about a subject and then distilling it down to its simplest form and sharing this with others. After a few years contracting as a Designer for some great brands and teaching User Experience Design at General Assembly, I met a recruiter that changed my life.
He asked me who my dream client would be. For me, I admire the strong design and branding of Transport for London (TfL). It would be so gratifying to solve real-life problems and make people’s lives easier. He explained that he had the perfect role for me, working with Kin + Carta.
I went to meet Ian McConchie, Head of Design. I remember being dressed unusually smart because it was my leaving party that evening for my previous role. Seeing the office and everyone dressed comfortably, I felt like I had to explain that I don’t dress this extravagantly every day! Despite my dramatic attire, I was offered the role.
My Kin + Carta Life
Working at Kin + Carta was so liberating compared to my previous roles. I was given autonomy straight away and it’s such a flat structure. I was able to excel at what I do and was given creative freedom to do what I do best. My favourite project so far has to be working on the TfL Decelerator. Just as we thought we’d nearly finished the project we discovered a problem that drivers were facing and had to be creative to come up with a solution. I was able to get into my users’ shoes as I sat with a driver of a London Underground train to truly understand the problem first-hand.
In July 2016, I found out I was pregnant with my first child. My husband and I were over the moon! However, I had no idea about what the company process involved. I was starting a new project and experiencing so many hormonal and physiological changes, which all contributed to it being a challenging and emotionally draining period of my career. My CoP and the People team ensured I was able to attend all of my appointments and work from home whenever needed. I had a wonderful 10 months of maternity leave to spend with my baby. I shared leave with my husband so was able to enjoy this amazing new time in our lives.
Coming back to work
When it came to coming back to work, I was so excruciatingly nervous. Kin + Carta had experienced a massive growth period so there were going to be many new faces. I was also conscious of the fact that I hadn’t used my brain in a work environment for a long time and was worried that I wouldn’t be able to think in the same way anymore.
I really had no reason to be nervous! Coming back to work was like coming back home. Comforting. The People team clearly explained all the flexibility that Kin + Carta offers for working parents. I was able to change my hours, as required, to work around me which made sharing nursery drop-offs and pick-ups with my husband relatively stress-free. As long as I’ve communicated my different hours with my project team, working whilst having parental duties was logistically fine. Emotionally, however, it was hard. Thankfully, I had other working parents at Kin + Carta to be able to talk to during the tough times.
I’m now ready to go off and have baby number two, and I couldn’t be more excited! This time around, Kin + Carta’s maternity benefit has more enhanced pay so I can spend even more time with my new family. It’s been a challenging journey but knowing that I have a supportive company behind me, working with me to ensure a flexible work-life balance makes life that much better.