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Member Spotlight: Julie Simard Knows How Powerful Design Can Be

Julie Simard has a background in visual art and has been a Digital Product Designer and User Experience Specialist with Mission for the past six months. For the past 3 years, she’s been active in a collective of freelancers around the world, and with a wide range of complimentary skills. Managing and running the group as her own business, the versatility of the contributors allows Julie to focus on the design aspect, while others take care of the coding.

Although she’s now doing amazing work digitally, she actually got her start in film photography, entering contests and winning prizes for her compositions. But from as early as 4 years old, she was embracing her “other half” and playing with computers too, building her own websites and studying coding.

Though she felt the latter wasn’t ultimately for her, her first job was as a web designer for Yellow Pages.

“I was the first designer on the team and it grew really fast,” says Simard, “After six months, there were 20 people on my team.” But working with so many constraints — Yellow Pages’ ultimate goal was still a very large print book — was not her thing.

After moving around, including physically to Melbourne, she ended up back in Canada and working in product across a wide range of projects and subject matter. She found that she enjoyed educating clients and training juniors, explaining the importance of design, as well as how to manage it in the future.

“Design is so difficult to understand,” says Simard. While people might think it’s “just color and images…[but] there’s so much more to it.”

From there, she moved on to freelancing to be closer to her clients and empower them, eventually founding her collective. Julie’s motive behind gathering her group echoes that of Mission’s too, both in team assembly and enabling growth, “I was looking for people that are complimentary with my work…and to be able to follow them through their development.”

The resonance with Mission’s own goals might be why she chose to join our network, considering she’s having such a great time growing her own.

“I think it’s about working with experts… It makes a difference in the work you’re doing. You’re sure someone has your back.”

One project she’s particularly proud of is one for Hortau. Founded in the 1970s and based in California, Hortau works on irrigation and water management, collecting hundreds of metrics to facilitate improvements.

Hortau used to do a lot of that information gathering manually, but with Julie’s help, they can now access that data via the dashboard in a few clicks.

“I’m impressed with what you can do with a tool like this. it could change the life of a lot of farmers.”

In the end, what really drives Julie Simard is “to make change in the world… there’s so many problems you could solve with design.”

When Julie’s not hard at work, you can find her surfing, hiking, or snowboarding the peaks of Quebec and Vermont, often accompanied by her favourite canine adventure pal.

For more of Julie’s work, check out her portfolio.