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The creative mind behind the new Adnovum work concept

4 min read

Senior UX Designer and former artist Marie-France Bojanowski recently co-led the work concept of Adnovum’s Zurich-based headquarters B170 to a big success. As a highly dedicated designer and loving mother of two, she makes a great example of how to attain a healthy life-work balance.

The far and much traveled Marie-France holds a Master in interaction design and was, for over 10 years, part of a well-known art collective in Montreal. As an artist, she created documentary films for television as well as impressive art and design projects.

When she moved from Canada to Switzerland, she didn’t only create a family here, but also transitioned from being an artist to being a Senior UX Designer at Adnovum. This metamorphosis happened over the course of several years, starting off with an artist grant at ETH Zurich, where she discovered IT while working with computer science researchers as an artist in residence. 

Dear Marie-France

You are an artist at heart, a mother of two teenagers (15 and 12) and you work 90% for Adnovum as a Senior UX Designer. But this is not all. In the past years, you have been trusted with innovative flagship projects, are a Career Coach and you just co-led the entire work concept of our new Zurich-based headquarters B170 to a big success. We are curious to find out what a normal workday looks like for you ...
 

I wake up at 5:30 am, prepare breakfast and Znüni for my kids and take the bus with them at 6:30 am. The early mornings bring calmness and focus to my day.

Adnovum workdays are always different: some days I have no meeting and plenty of time for focus work, while other days I’m in meetings all day long, doing collaborative work.

How difficult or easy is it for you to combine family life and work? What elements are essential for this?

At work, it is essential that colleagues, Career Coaches and Managers show flexibility to combine work and family life. I enjoy that Adnovum has become much more flexible and approachable since I joined 6 years ago. It now promotes working from anywhere (and any time) and holds space for women in business-relevant positions. 


Working from home makes things easier. Some days, I prepare dinner in my lunch break and get to be there for the kids after work, when they need help with homework or test preparations. Also, my partner helps me a great deal with the kids and family chores, which is essential for me to be able to work 90%. I am very grateful. 

To create a healthy work-life balance, I make time to disconnect and recharge from time to time. I like to go for a run, do spinning sessions or be creative. Sport is good for body, mind and soul. Especially when done in the middle of nature. Creative moments are essential too for me as an artist.  What I most enjoy is to use my hands: drawing, sewing, knitting, gardening, building a treehouse …

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We believe that at Adnovum anybody – no matter the gender, religion, age or title – can be successful and will get the necessary support. Can you give us a few examples of when you felt supported by Adnovum on your career journey?  

Moment 1 – Joining Adnovum as the first woman of the UX team, I had only a few years of UX and software design experience but plenty of experience in art direction and design. Of course, at Adnovum, we don’t do art or movies – all things that I had in my CV – but they still chose to trust my abilities and somewhat knew, that I would have something to add to the team. And that’s how it went: Today, we are using much more storytelling and videos in presentations.

Moment 2 – A few years ago, I had an accident as I fell from a tree. My head injury caused the loss of major cognitive capacities which I then had to rebuild. In total, I spent 9 months in recovery. During all that time, I was very well supported by Adnovum which contributed hugely to a speedy recovery. This really showed me that Adnovum believes in you and that the company wants you to succeed.

What does Adnovum offer that other companies don't in relation to working women or moms?

We now have job sharing, the first couple started as part of the HR team. This could also be an interesting working model for modern men, as they might want to work less too in a future and spend more time with their families. It’s already happening. 

When I first joined Adnovum I felt like I was working in a men’s world. Now, I am surrounded by women. The company has evolved and made many steps toward diversification. Not only in terms of gender equality but also towards other types of minds and experiences.

What does Adnovum offer that other companies don't in relation to working women or moms?

3.5 months is not enough maternity leave, the WHO recommends breastfeeding for 6 months. So, I think there is room for improvement. But I do give Adnovum credit for allowing mothers (and fathers) to take unpaid leave in order to extend their maternity leave.

Also, I believe the leadership level of a company should be as diverse as the company itself. Therefore, you need female role models at every level. In our case this can be seen by slowly, but surely increasing numbers of women in business-relevant positions.

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What do you consider your biggest achievements at Adnovum? Can you name 1-3 points? 

  • B170: This project entailed so many interesting questions like: What does it mean to come to the office? What does it mean to work? What do we miss and what do we need? How can we create a human centric work and office concept? We really tried to create a new work experience, from us by us. And I think we succeeded.
  • Having contributed to making UX a standard part of the software development process
  • Added to the growth of the UX team: at the beginning, we were only 4, now we’re 18 people


Who are your role models? Could you name her/him and tell us why? 

I don’t have a role model. However, I am continuously inspired by all kinds of people and like to learn from their passion, their research, their experience, their legacy. I would call them inspirations, rather than role models: e.g. Leonard Cohen, Arvo Pärt, Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, Yuval Noah Harari, Björk, Jorinde Voigt, Christopher Nolan, Matthew Barney, Yotam Ottolenghi, the farmer next door, my father. 

Thank you for your time, Marie-France.

Want to work with us and meet more interesting people? Then have a look here. 

 

Published February 16, 2022

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