Creating a career in HCD: A young-person’s Cheat sheet

April 11, 2024

What is your name and job title?

My name is Mercy Kipngeny and I am a Clinical Designer at Medtronic Labs.

What has your career journey been like?

I started my career in Human-centered Design (HCD) and Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (ASRHR) in 2020 working in Siaya County to improve the access and utilization of youth-friendly services among young people. This sparked my interest in design.  I started looking for opportunities to learn more and practice design.  In 2021, I came across an advert for the Billion Girls Co-lab Fellowship with, an incubator for Girl-led solutions in the ASRHR sector, in the HCD Exchange newsletter, applied and got selected to be part of the fellowship. This fellowship opened opportunities for me in the ASRHR sector, working as a young designer and a program assistant in ASRHR and economic empowerment with Population Services Kenya and the Centre for Study of Adolescence. Currently, I practice HCD in Reproductive Maternal Neonatal Child and Adolescent Health(RMNCAH), Non Communicable diseases(NCD), and intersecting fields. I also mentor inspiring HCD professionals in the SRHR field.

What inspired you to pursue a career in HCD for health?

I noticed a big gap in the health programs we were implementing, especially when addressing end-users’ needs and getting them right to ensure that the solution we were offering was useful and sustainable. HCD was a game changer because using the approach helped us ensure that we understood our end user needs before designing any interventions. Moreover, it helped us come up with interventions that were community-owned and scalable because of the evidenced positive outcomes.

What would you say are some of the tips, tricks, and advice that have helped you grow on this career path?

Staying curious and out of your comfort zone. Be on the lookout for trends in your field of work and learn as much as you can, find your passion and niche, and learn what makes you unique or sets you apart from the rest. 

What are some of the lessons you have picked up along the way as a young person on this career path?

  • As you are trying to build your career, learning never stops
  • Be so good at what you do that no one asks for your age
  • It is okay to feel lost sometimes, it is part of the process
  • Always have time for self-care

To the young person aspiring to pursue a career in HCD, what would your advice be to them? 

Go for it, it might be the most satisfying career path you ever take.

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