July 25-27, 2018 / Vancouver, BC

An Interview With Amélie Lamont

Written by Shannon Fisher

March 29, 2017

Steve chats with Amélie about her passion for Good for POC and sharing the journey of creating a documented design system at the New York Times. We're excited to hear her talk this July, Don't Kill Them Softly: Fostering a culture of fearless feedback. As with all of our talks this summer, it's a very important topic in today's world.

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Transcript

Steve
Hi, well we're here for another interview for the Design and Content Conference and today, I'm really excited to introduce you to Amelie Lamont, did I get that right?

Amélie
Yes, you did

Steve
Well, why don't you tell everyone, introduce yourself and tell 'em all about yourself.

Amélie
Sure, so my name is Amelie Lamont. I am a Product Design Lead at the New York Times. Currently... Well, I would say that I've been doing design for the past 10 years, but currently my focus is on design anthropology and design systems.

Steve
Oh, that's really great and we're so excited to have you coming out.

Amélie
Yeah.

Steve
So, why don't you tell us something that you're currently working on right now, or doing in your life, that you're passionate about, you're excited about?

Amélie
So, the one thing that I'm working on is Good for POC, with two of my co founders, Catt Small and Jacky Alsine. It's basically this database, that helps people of color find safe and inclusive companies and tech, engineering, science and maths and arts to work for. So that's something that I'm really excited about and it's really great, because its a very inclusive community, that is incredibly supportive.

The other thing that I'm working on right now is... Right now, I would say that the buzzword in design world, especially the design tech world, is design systems, but if you're someone at a company, specifically a designer, who wants to build a design system, there isn't any documentation online, that teaches you how to do that. A lot of the documentation about design systems, such as the ones that you see through Salesforce, such as GE, or say, Google, they talk about the end process, but they don't talk about the journey and how they got there. So what I'm currently doing at the Times is literally recording my journey of building a design system in a legacy corporation as large as the Times and writing a series in a way that allows people to read it and then glean the learnings, that I have gathered, while going through that journey of building the design system.

Steve
Wow, that's really great. I'm excited to see some of that stuff come out.

Amélie
Yeah.

Steve
Yeah, and you're right. There really isn't great documentation out there that's helpful, so...

Amélie
No.

Steve
Thank you for taking that on.

Amélie
Yeah

Steve
Now, you're coming to talk to us at the conference about culture of feedback. Maybe you could tell us a little bit more about your talk and what people could expect?

Amélie
Yeah, so the talk is specifically about how to give feedback, and how to receive feedback. What's nice about it is that it's for anyone, whether you're a manager or an individual contributor, whether you have many, many years of experience, or you're very new to the industry, I think a lot, a lot of the time, we confuse feedback with either criticism or critique and we don't quite have the right language, essentially in our arsenal, to give the feedback, that we need to give, especially for specific situations, that we might find ourselves in. So the idea of the talk is to give people the tools, that I learned working at places like Apple, and at start ups and at companies like the Times, figuring out, how do I give feedback in a way that is fearless, which is part of the title of my talk, but also doesn't harm the person, that you're giving the feedback to.

Steve
Oh, that's excellent. I think people can really benefit from hearing from that.

Amélie
Yeah, certainly.

Steve
And now, I think you told me that you've never been to Vancouver before, and so you're gonna get to come there in the summer, which is a great time to come. What's something you're excited about, when coming to Vancouver?

Amélie
Hmm, I'm not sure, because I don't really know much about Vancouver, so I would say that the thing that I'm most excited about is meeting lots and lots of people at Design and Content and hopefully they can just take me to all the food places, so I can just eat my face off, 'cause that would be a dream come true.

Steve
Well, that, that part will definitely happen.

Amélie
OK, good

Steve
Yeah, we actually have someone that's in print, you get a list of all the places to go to.

Amélie
Oh my God, yes!

Steve
Right where the venue is, it's right in the heart of Gastown, which is some of the best food in Vancouver, at least in my opinion.

Amélie
I'm so excited

Steve
Yeah, well, it'll be great and we're super excited that you're coming out this year and looking forward to hosting you.

Amélie
Yeah, I'm super excited too. Thank you so much.