Interview with Dominika Palivcova, Senior UX Researcher
Dominika or Domi, joined Kiwi.com as an UX Researcher in 2020. She’s a fan of anything design-related, she believes that it’s possible to love your job(s), and she thinks that society still has some IT stereotypes to break.
Once she finished her Master’s degree in Computer Science, she started her Ph.D. studies but realized that academic research didn’t fulfill her. “I decided to go to the industry; I needed to see the results of my work a bit faster than it is usual for academia. That was when I started my job search. Kiwi.com was my first option because I met the team at a design event, and I was amazed by Kiwi’s design culture,” shared Dominika.
Read below to find out how she feels as a woman in tech, her view on UX Design, Kiwi.com culture, her side job, with her clothing brand Moichi.co and more.
Hi Domi, how would you describe yourself?
Well…I’m always kinda “all over the place”. I have many interests and tend to do all of them simultaneously. For example, I enjoy my main job, which makes me very happy, but I also love being heavily involved in the clothing brand Moichi, which I started 2 years ago. I’m always somewhere in between – depending on the situation, I’m both thinker and a doer. And I like to listen rather than speak.
What made you join Kiwi.com?
I worked as a UX Designer while I was studying Computer Science. It was in a smaller company, and I was the first to bring UX design there. At some point, there wasn’t any way for me to grow there, so I wanted to join a more extensive (and cool) design team and learn from others. I noticed Kiwi.com was doing Global Travel Jam, an event where we all gathered in Bratislava for a UX challenge, and there I could meet the team and see what they are working on.
What do you like the most about your work?
As a UX Researcher, you explore people’s ideas and behaviors. It fascinates me how different people can be and how different opinions they can have. It’s mind-blowing what you can learn when you put your perspective aside.
You mentioned that you started a line of your own clothing brand Moichi.co. Can you tell us a bit more about this?
I started Moichi during the pandemic, but it was something I wanted to do for a long time. My mom is skilled in sewing, and for some time, I tried to convince her to start creating fashion with me because it’s our shared passion. With the covid restrictions, I suddenly had a lot of free time, and I came up with the brand name, with the branding itself, and we just started. It was so scary to put the first pieces online! I was afraid no one would like what we do, but luckily, it worked out!
I do marketing, branding, everything around the e-shop, packing, and photoshoots. I also make accessories and propose designs of clothes, and I do some final touches on clothing pieces. It’s a lot of things. I like the variety of it. Moichi is a massive playground of activities to try.
What does Moichi.co mean to you?
I think it’s a little bit of escape from the digital world. I love digital and UX design, but it’s not tangible. With Moichi, I have something handmade that I can touch and feel, and so can others – I feel so excited when I see people on the street wearing and enjoying Moichi pieces. Our brand is not really about money, to be honest. It’s about interaction with people and the feeling that the customers appreciate your craft and use your products in their daily lives.
Do you have any role models?
The first name that comes to my mind is Pavlína Louženská, the founder of the organization #HolkyzMarketingu, here in the Czech Republic. I find her very honest, and I love her genuine interest in helping people and being a strong women’s voice. It’s impressive and inspiring to see how huge and how positive an impact one woman can have. In general, I tend to look up to female founders like Dita Přikrylová from Czechitas, Kateřina Šédová from Loono, or Whitney Wolfe Herd from Bumble.
How would your colleagues describe you?
I hope they see me as someone who is always willing to help, who’s pragmatic but, at the same time, fun to work with.
What is something you are immensely proud of?
Getting my degree in Computer Science at Czech Technical University in Prague, as it’s not an easy school to finish successfully. Also, before Moichi, I had one more brand that I started when I was 14, and I had this business for, I think, ten years. This gave me so much experience as I did many things there by myself. I learned a lot about websites and some coding which influenced my decision to study IT, and of course, I am proud of Moichi as well!
How did it feel studying IT as a woman?
It’s still not common to study IT if you are a female, and there were just a few women studying in my programme. By the end of my studies, I was the only Czech woman that stayed. Back then, I would say that I don’t mind living in a man’s world, as long as I can be a woman in it. With time, this opinion changed for me as now I don’t think we should be living in a man’s world. It should be balanced. It’s visible at the university that you are sort of an alien there.
How did that man’s world look like?
I can tell you what this world looked like from my perspective. At university, I encountered a lot of sexism and even harassment. At some point, you just accept it as the reality, and you don’t even notice anymore how bad it is; it becomes a standard. For example, you take sexist jokes just to not be that “prude woman who can’t laugh at herself,” but it’s not OK. It’s just you as a woman who’s the subject for “joking”. It doesn’t go the other way around.
How important is it for you to see female role models in your industry?
A lot, I like to see women in high positions because it’s still not so common. And vice-versa, I like to see, for example, men as nurses as well. We need to break these stereotypes.
What is the feeling of being a woman at Kiwi.com?
Here at Kiwi.com, I feel like me. I feel accepted for who I am no matter what my gender is and it feels great. However, it would still be cool to see more women in leadership positions.
In your opinion, are the organizations giving enough space for women to express themselves in technology?
I see some positive trends and minor improvements, some companies are really tackling the issues women have to deal with, for example, flexible parental leave. But we’re definitely “not there yet,”, especially regarding education. We still deal with the stereotype that IT people are those “nerdy IT guys.” It’s essential to show children from a young age that if they want to go to IT, they just need to go for it and try. Get rid of the stereotypes, welcome variety and make clear that gender doesn’t play any role in the process, it doesn’t define one’s abilities and doesn’t determine whether you’ll be successful in the field.
If you want to join our UX team and explore our fantastic culture, hover over our open positions, and don’t hesitate to apply!