(guest post by Yoojung Lee)
We were excited to visit the Vancouver office of Habanero for our second studio tour of the year. It was located only a fourteen-minute walk away from the Digital Design campus. Greeting us upon our arrival was Bradley Smith, a Senior Interaction Designer at Habanero and also a VFS alumnus from the very first class of the DD program.
After Bradley guided us into the large main meeting room, we were introduced to some of the other members of the team, including Christopher Parsons, a Senior Front End Developer, and Zak Woytowich, another graduate of the DD program and now an Interaction Designer. It was very interesting to see a number of our alumni actively working in the digital design industry throughout the city, giving us inspirational and realistic advice that we can truly make use of. As we were introduced to the different designers in the group, Steven Fitzgerald, the President of Habanero, walked into the room to give us a brief talk about Habanero and their vision. Steven greatly emphasized how they always work as a team with their clients, endlessly communicating and collaborating upon every step of their work process, in order to bring about the most effective and suitable digital solutions as possible. Likewise, the work culture at Habanero seemed to be strongly based upon supporting and respecting each individual members’ perspectives upon their own career phases. At Habanero, they all worked as a team in a flat hierarchy, where all employees were consulted regularly for custom-career options that would best suit the members’ interests in terms of their skills, preferences, and aspirations. This meant that not only each employee would be able to build upon their own individual career pathways, but also that they would have the passion and openness required to generate the best outcomes together as a company. Building upon their amazing people-centered work culture, another very interesting aspect of Habanero was their long and thorough hiring process. It was clear that Habanero is more interested in establishing a strong team of warm and trusting minds, rather than merely recruiting any skilled body who can finish the given tasks.
After the truly engaging talk from Steven, one of our classmates asked about the story behind the name, Habanero. Although there have been many presumptions about the origins of the name, Steven cleverly implied how they used to eat a lot of spicy food that happen to contain a lot of habanero, during the initial phases of finding the company. I guess things happen for a particular reason sometimes. As Steven left us whether to believe or not the story behind the name, Habanero, Bradley and other designers filled us with additional information on what a day of an interactive designer and also a front end developer look like. After having the Habanero team answer all the questions we had to ask, we were guided through the office to take a tour.
They had a beautiful kitchen that built upon on the idea of caring for health and nutritional aspects of the employees, which also served as a space for their weekly catered lunch at work. The tour of the Vancouver office of Habanero, filled with a truly charming team of skilled individuals, was amazing and inspiring for us, especially the ones considering to go into the interactive stream of the industry. To be honest, I could not wait to go and meet the amazing people that I could be working with, in an industry that I truly have a passion for. Deeply stimulated and motivated, we all thank Habanero for giving us a clear idea about how wonderful working in this industry, especially at Habanero, could be.