Q&A with a corporate researcher

Jeta Surman 

Director of UX Research, American Express

How did you first become interested in UX? 

Prior to transitioning into UX, I thought I wanted to be in data analytics. Although I did work as an analyst for a few years after completing university, I found myself feeling disconnected from the product experience. I would look at large datasets, and eventually that started to feel quite dehumanizing, in terms of displaying a customer as a single data point and having rows and rows of their usage but not understanding their pain points, challenges, needs and experiences. At that time, I expressed interest in transitioning to market research as a way of understanding consumer needs and expectations. 

A few years later, I stumbled across the field of UX, which immediately clicked with my passion of understanding user’s better. Up until that time in my career I had worked on understanding expectations of customers related to digital products, and it felt like a natural transition to fully move to UX. As I have reflected on my personal values and motivators over the years, the one thing that is consistently present is the need to continue to learn and be consistently challenged cognitively. I think the UX field, and in particular UX research, is a forever fascinating and dynamic space, where no two days are the same, and I’m never bored. 

Do you see yourself leveraging any new mythologies or tools in the next year? 

I do see an opportunity to continue to utilize more and more remote tools, as a way of making it easier to connect with underserved communities and lowering the barrier to insights. Within financial tech, we are also always balancing between agility and rigor, so we get to adopt methods to make them lighter weight/hybrid as a way of achieving insights faster to meet business objectives, for example, showing up to a farmers market over the course of a full day to observe the mPOS devices that merchants use, as opposed to setting up a structured observatory study that requires planned recruitment, fielding, etc. 

What excites you about coming to work each day? 

The people. I love my team at Kabbage, and I love interacting with our users.