How does it feel going from being a freelancer to Product Design Lead to Chief Design Officer?
Jakub Sroka: Working 10 instead of 16 hours a day (like it used to be while freelancing) feels like a weekend every day! But jokes aside, I am excited about the challenges ahead, but at the same time very humbled. NaviParking is a truly unique organisation that is now starting to scale and develop rapidly, so co-navigating it is quite a responsibility.
What does smart mobility mean to you? Why is it important?
JS: Smart mobility is a category so broad that, paradoxically, it may seem empty and meaningless at times. I like to look at it from a pragmatic perspective of everyday actions, like commuting by bike, public transport or at least carpooling, taking shared and sustainable modes of transport to commute that famous ‘last mile’, or even ordering parcels to a locker instead of a doorstep delivery.
What drew you to working in the tech industry?
JS: Just like most kids of my generation, I wasn’t playing outside too frequently after the first PC appeared in our household. Video games didn’t seem to interest me that much for some reason, so I’ve naturally deviated towards more creative and engineering-like matters. Then, back in 2006, I got my first paid freelance web design and web development gigs, which I perceive as a symbolic starting point of my career.
One of the most satisfying things about the product design is to see how user feedback sheds new light on it and ultimately helps to forge software that is convenient to use, efficient and scalable.
What does sustainability mean to you? In what ways are you sustainable at your job and outside of it?
JS: Again, every effective global change should start from the bottom up. That’s why I strive to contribute, starting even from the most obvious things like segregating waste and recycling. Being a part of a 100% remote organisation (no commuting!) together with using proudly-produced green energy also makes for a decent combo sustainability-wise, I believe. In the near future, I’m on the lookout for a smart way to collect and reuse rainwater, as well as switching from a hybrid to a fully electric vehicle.
What is it about NaviParking that makes you proud to work here?
JS: Each NaviParker is a great expert in their domain, but what makes us exceptional is that we are true team players. The amount of mutual respect and kindness we share never ceases to amaze me.
Describe the best part of your job.
JS: One of the most satisfying things about the product design is to see how user feedback sheds new light on it and ultimately helps to forge software that is convenient to use, efficient and scalable.
Tell us about your favourite thing that you’ve worked on.
JS: I’d say our NaviParking Enterprise Manager—the dashboard kind of app that our corporate clients use to manage digitised parking facilities. The whole redesign process has been conducted, maintaining a constant feedback loop with the actual users on the clients’ side. The gathered insights not only allowed us to create the new Manager that suited the needs and was warmly received by existing customers but also to build a re-usable ‘platform’ that can be easily applied in other contexts while maintaining good usability.
Each NaviParker is a great expert in their domain, but what makes us exceptional is that we are true team players. The amount of mutual respect and kindness we share never ceases to amaze me.
What’s remote work like for you?
JS: I was an advocate for it in pre-pandemic times when a lot of executives seemed to believe that being at home means slacking and chilling, rather than doing effective work. Happy to see that belief decreasing in popularity nowadays.
What are you most excited to do post-pandemic?
JS: Attend concerts for sure!
What do you do when you’re not at work? Do you have any hobbies?
When it comes to hobbies from outside the tech bubble, I really enjoy DIY in various forms – ranging from woodworking, through welding and metalwork, to basic electronics. It is a refreshing experience to create something that has a physical form for a change!
Tell us something people would be surprised to learn about you.
JS: I haven’t studied design, UX or art. I hold a master’s degree in Journalism and Social Communication and even spent some time pursuing a PhD degree in Media Studies at the University of Warsaw. What might be surprising here is the fact that I’ve specialised in… internet memes. In 2014, a book that I wrote under the mentorship of prof. Jerzy Bralczyk has been published – being probably the first polish scientific book on that subject. You can still buy it, as the publisher re-released it two years back.