For this week’s Alumni profile, I had the pleasure of speaking with Business Analyst Debora Duarte. A citizen of the world, Duarte was born in Angola and lived in five different countries since leaving home, which, according to her, makes it almost impossible for people to guess where she is from.

Debora has recently started a new position as a Lead Business Analyst at Chubb. When we sat down for this interview a couple of months back – right after she attended Echos’ Design Thinking Experience course – she was a Senior Business Analyst at Cubic.

Debora Duarte

RG – Hi Debora, it’s lovely to have you here! Can we start by you telling us a little bit about yourself?
DD – I’m an Angolan living in Sydney. I’m passionate about life, and when I’m not on my 9-5 job, I’m outdoors enjoying myself in nature, camping, hiking, doing handstands, acroyoga, capoeira or surfing. I’m also a community work enthusiast and an aspiring entrepreneur.

RG – You are a Business Analyst. What does that entail?
DD – As a Business Analyst, my tasks include review, analysis and evaluation of business systems and user needs. I engage with the business stakeholders and subject matter experts on a daily basis, in order to understand their problems and needs. As a result, I document requirements, define scope and objectives and formulate systems to parallel overall business strategies.

“In the IT industry, innovation is key to keep up with the market.”

RG – In your opinion, why is innovation important in your field of work?
DD – In the IT industry, innovation is key to keep up with the market. A company that doesn’t evolve and adapt to new market needs ends up becoming outdated and losing its foothold.

RG – I was curious to know when was the first time you heard about Design Thinking?
DD – I had heard about it a while back but never really paid much attention to it. I didn’t really know what Design Thinking was until taking this course. It’s much more interesting than I could have imagined.

RG – Glad to hear you enjoyed the course. How do you think the knowledge you brought back to your work can positively impact your industry?
DD – My way of looking into problems and solutions has completely changed. In my role, I always look for ways to rise to the new challenges posed by product development and complex business problems, and it’s very easy to get trapped “inside the box” without even noticing. I now feel that I can contribute much more in terms of problem and solution analysis while involving stakeholders through the decision-making process.

“I had never seen myself as a designer or an innovator, probably because it was never in my scope of work. Now, I see so many more pathways where I could thrive and contribute with my skills in a different way.”

RG – Thinking outside the box can make someone see themselves in a different light. Did you learn anything new about yourself?
DD – Definitely! I had never seen myself as a designer or an innovator, probably because it was never in my scope of work. As a result, I ended up just being focused on Business Analysis and Project Management throughout my career. But now, I see so many more pathways where I could thrive and contribute with my skills in a different way.

RG – Did you have any “big learnings” or “a-ha moments” throughout the Design Thinking process?
DD – The prototype phase was a first for me. The process of getting something intangible like a software or an experience into something tangible was quite interesting. In the end, looking at the feedback and learnings collected from the testing phase, the pieces glued together. Humans need to see and feel the product to give accurate feedback. Words wouldn’t have the same “wow” effect.

RG – Are you currently applying Design Thinking methodologies to a project? If so, tell us more about it.
DD – I was recently assigned to work on a proposal for a new product, and right away I highlighted to the team the importance of spending more time on understanding the problem, rather than jumping to the solution. That was one of my main intakes from the course. We didn’t go through the whole design thinking process yet, but this was a good start.

“Be bold on your ideas and don’t let your creativity get killed. There is no such thing as bad ideas, just bad solutions to a problem.”

RG – What pearls of wisdom would you share with someone who is starting their innovation journey through Design Thinking?
DD – Be bold on your ideas and don’t let your creativity get killed. There is no such thing as bad ideas, just bad solutions to a problem.

RG – I couldn’t agree more! Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience?
DD – I highly recommend this course, regardless of anyone’s experience or background. The “learn by doing” method is really effective in stimulating the creative side we all have.

RG – To end on a high note, can you share a quote that inspires you?
DD – “A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” by Grace Hopper.

RG – That’s great. Thank you so much, Debora.
DD – Thank you.

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Rani Ghazzaoui Luke

Rani is a writer and actor based in Sydney, Australia. She is Echos Head of Content & Communications, and the Editor in Chief of Desired, The Newsletter.

Before joining Echos, she worked in full-service advertising agencies as a copywriter, moved onto writing for Broadcast Media, and landed on Digital Media, working first as a Digital Producer and later as a Digital Account Manager. Most recently, she was Lead Client Solutions Manager for GumGum Inc, an ad tech company specialised in Artificial Intelligence.

Rani is a highly curious individual that believes creativity and innovation are the most important tools to propel any person or business forward.

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