Meet Lorisa Dubuc, 2021 Honoured Alumni, Faculty of Science
It wasn’t long ago, that Lorisa Dubuc, now Executive Director (VP), Developer Experience User Research, for Goldman Sachs, in London, graduated from the UM with her Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. Since then she has worked with notable companies Citrix, Google, and IBM Canada. In 2014, she founded her own consulting firm, UXistential, and that same year was nominated by the UM for membership to the World Association of Co-operative Education Hall of Fame (WACE), for her efforts using technology to improve the lives of Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers.
We caught up with this Faculty of Science 2021 Honoured Alumni to learn more about her experiences, research and work.
Tell us about your work.
I am a specialist in user experience research. My job involves uncovering user behaviours, needs, and motivations, providing actionable insights that help teams design products and services that provide value. Essentially I help teams understand what it is that people actually need, instead of what they think people want. When applied to technology, this helps make better products, systems, and services for all of us. And hopefully makes the world a better place to be in, one experience at a time. Currently, I manage a team of user researchers at Goldman Sachs, a global investment bank, as well as leading a large-scale, high-impact research initiative to improve the developer experience for the 10,000+ engineers within the firm.
What is something you are most proud of?
Being a strong role model for my two children. As a working professional who also happens to be a mother, I feel pulled in several directions on a daily basis. At first, I felt bad about not being at home for my kids. But now, I appreciate how important it is that they grow up seeing how everyone within a family contributes in different ways, and this is one of the ways that mothers can play an important role. My kids don’t know exactly what I do yet – when I worked for a company that makes satellite networks, their dad would tell them I was “going to work at the space station”, and now at Goldman Sachs they talk about me “going to work at the bank”. But the fundamental thing is that they know I work hard and that it is important for both me and my family.
To be completely honest, UM wasn’t my first choice. Although I grew up in Winnipeg when I finished secondary school I really wanted to go to the University of Waterloo, given its reputation as a top school to study Computer Science. I was accepted into both universities but ultimately decided to stay in Winnipeg where I could live at home and not rack up huge student loan debt. It was a decision purely based on practicality – at the time, I felt devastated, as I had always dreamed of studying at Waterloo. But, as it turned out, going to the UM was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I felt very much at home at the UM from the first day, the professors were approachable and knowledgeable, and I made great lifelong friends. The Co-op program helped set me up with terrific job experience and thus a great CV. As a result of my Co-op placements, I landed a great job with IBM after graduating, which even took me overseas on an international assignment. And, to top it off, attaining a first-class honours degree in Computer Science at the UM got me accepted into the Ph.D. program at the University of Cambridge, ranking second in an applicant pool of 31 overseas candidates that year. If I could go back, I’d make the same decision again, 100%.
Do you have any advice to offer current students?
Spend this time really getting to know yourself, and follow your interests and passions. If you have more than one area you love, and they are very different, that’s ok! Don’t feel you need to settle on doing just one thing. Even if it doesn’t feel obvious to you now, there will likely be a way to combine them in the future. There are a million different jobs out there that you could pursue – many of which you probably haven’t come across yet, and some that don’t yet exist (based on innovations still in development).
I started off studying Computer Science, but I also loved Psychology – I took every elective I could in the latter, which resulted in a Psychology minor by the time I finished my degree. I thought perhaps I would be able to combine them by studying AI later on, or something similar – it wasn’t until a couple of years after I graduated did I realize that I could work on improving technology through studying human behaviour, and have since carved out a career for myself in User Experience Research. This wasn’t a career path per se when I was studying.
Keep your mind open to the possibilities your future career may bring, and don’t be afraid to be creative about shaping the career you want.
You can learn more about Lorisa Dubuc [B.C.Sc. (Hons), Psychology Minor/02] and many other exciting career possibilities from several of our 2021 Faculty of Science Honoured Alumni at the Pathways to Exceptional Achievement Event on Feb. 4, 2021.
Alumni Speaker Panel & Q&A
Pathways to Exceptional Achievement – Careers in Science
2021 Honoured Alumni Awards
Feburary 4, 2021 at 3:30 PM (CST)
All are welcome to attend. (Virtual) Online Event. Please check your email for Zoom link or contact: foscomms [at] umanitoba [dot] ca.