Getting good and inspiring guidance in the beginning of our career is crucial for our success to become great designers. That is where mentors plays such an important part in our journey. Today, we're joined by Rachel and Pang, a mentor and a mentee, who gonna share with us their mutual mentorship experience in our design team at Agoda.
If you wish to join the Agoda mentorship program mentioned in this episode, please visit the link below for more details:
Giving feedback. A feedback itself is a gift. And I think whoever was able to practice giving that is a is a, you know, that's your superpower as a designer,
I think the relationship between the mentor and mentee is the most important thing. Yeah, to me as good mentorship program should have a healthy relationship between the mentor and mentee we both are improving in a better way.
Hello, and welcome to the design explorers podcast by the Agoda design team. agoda.com is a global digital travel platform where you can book hotels, vacation rentals, flights, and airport transfer. In this podcast, we'll be sharing the awesome work of our design team discuss interesting trends in relation to design and travel and talk about product design in general. My name is Nahum Yamin and I will be your host for the show.
Getting good and inspiring guidance in the beginning of our career is crucial for our success to become great designers. That is where mentors plays such an important part in our journey. Today, we're joined by Rachel and Pang, a mentor and a mentee, who gonna share with us their mutual mentorship experience here at agoda.
Before we begin, we would like to apologize for the audio quality in this episode. Since we are working from home due to the current situation with the pandemic, we didn't want this to stop us from continuing sharing our design team knowledge. And so we have recorded this session remotely. We hope you can still enjoy your listening in the show despite that, and appreciate your understanding. Let's start. Welcome to our fifth episode of the design explorers. Today were talking about mentorship, and I'm here with Rachel and Pang, Rachel, Pang. Welcome to our show.
Hi Nahum happy to be here
Hi Nahum, exciting to be here.
Let's give our listeners some background about who you are. And how long have you been at Agoda?
Yeah. I'm Pang Bantita Treepong an associate UX designer at Agoda. So I joined Agoda last year. So back to that time before I joined Agoda I participate in their TDC at Agoda deisgn challenge. And I pass this challenge. So I had a chance to interview with agoda. And finally, I got my job here. Yeah. And right now I'm working on YCS the supply product on Agoda. So if you have no idea what is the supply for that is, I think our second episode of this, this design explorers also like I have this answer so you can listen to it. Yeah. And right now, I'm on this episode, right? We are talking about a mentorship program. So I'm a mentee of that program.
Yeah, so I'm Rachel, I am a senior product designer at agoda. This is my fourth year in this company. I started working with Pang started as a mentorship program because I was very passionate about like, you know, after after craftsmanship, you know, sharpening skills and in design, I wanted to do something more. So I used to I work on various projects, such as, like post booking experience, and consumer facing products. All kinds of stuff like all kinds of projects I kind of the dev a little bit, here and there. And yeah, here today, I'm really excited to be here, um, has been assigned to as a mentor to Pang. And we've been working together for Yeah, for the past year.
Awesome. So as we mentioned in the beginning, today, we're talking about mentorship, and specifically mentorship here at agoda. Can you please give us some details about what this program actually is?
Yeah, for me as a mentee, I think the mentorship program and agoda is a program that help, a junior designer to improve their skill for both soft and hard skill. So by doing this program, you will have our senior designer to give you a sugestion. I mean any type of sugestion. For example, when I joined, I have no idea how to collaborate with the auto people who should I talk to? And as you know, Agoda is a big organization. We have so many people with many different role here. So at that time Rachel guide me on how to deal with that. So yeah, I think the mentorship program is the program that helps you to get guidance from the senior designer, so they will give you sugesstion and when you stuck with something, they will spot your weakness and help you to improve, and also help you to grow in your career path at Agoda as well.
Yeah. And for me, like mentorship doesn't exist in agoda. In any form before this, this was a learning experience for us to see like, how can we build better relationship between designers? And how can this, you know, we don't know what this will be in the future? But yeah, this is a new program that we're trying out.
Can you walk us through how this this program actually look like in your day to day job?
Sure, yeah. So how did it impact me day to day is that I will spend about three hours a week for my mentees and mentoring two person two designers at at the moment that includes design critique, or how to pitch ideas or pushback to stakeholder based on their daily work. But for me, that's basically a dedicated mome hour, an hour to 30 to 45 minutes for them to come to me with their questions. So it's not strictly to only a weekly one on ones, but it's good to have like this fixed schedule for the sessions. And it's time for them to reach out as well.
Now, you mentioned that this program is relatively new here at agoda. So maybe you can tell us how exactly it started, how long have you been doing this
is started because I was really passionate about like being able to transfer the knowledge to some other less experienced designers. Not just because it's such a big company, but I also see the gap of how when we onboard new designers, I started joined, I joined at agoda, when we have only 20 designers, and suddenly we have 50. And there's a lot I see a lot of struggle between like transferring projects. And I was pretty like, passionate about how can we be better and like be a role model to others to onboard and make it easier to make the process. And also as a senior product designer, I think after a while, you know, working on skill sets, I was looking for new challenges, like coaching skills, this is what I never get a chance to do. So that's why you know, it all started there. I talked to my managers and you know, we discuss the possibility How can we start this and we kinda learn and doing as we go.
And Pang how and when this program started for you?
Yeah. So for me, right, I joined this programs sinceI first joined at Agoda, I think it's around like 10 months ago. Yeah. And at that time, or I heard from my manager that we have the mentorship program, so you can joined and like we have some these senior designer to guide. So yeah, I think it's that good opportunity to me to join this program because previously I worked, like on their start up company is only me as a UX designer here. And they will not sure. And I have no idea like, how to collaborate with other designers. Yeah, so I think this is a good chance for me to learn from the senior designer here. Yeah, that is why I joined this program.
Since we also have here, design managers with agoda, how exactly we draw the line between the responsibility of a mentor compared to a design manager? Like what is your area of responsibility? Basically, Rachel,
for me, it's really about understanding like my my value of what I can bring to the table, and align that go with their direct reports. So as as Pang mentioned, you know, we spot weakness, something rooms for improvement. We start from there and be very specific at the very beginning of the mentorship program on where we wanted to focus. I think that's the main difference between the raw reports versus as a mentor is that, for example, you will be only focusing on on one thing like craft or they wanted to be giving better presentations. They wanted to have better communications with their stakeholders. Those are the things that direct reports couldn't really foresee the entire process. All the time. But as another designer who also, you know, doing the design work, I'm more familiar with the actual process
and Pang How is it from your perspective?
Yeah, as Rachel mentioned, right. My, in my standpoint the difference between the mentor and the manager is the manager, will, he will help me to set the goal I helped me to grow in their career paths and see, like, which area that I can grow, and how to reach that. But, the thing is he will not have a chance to look into detail of the design in my like a day to day job. So mentors can like a spot that so I have a chance to work together with Rachel and have a chance to showcase my design. So firstly, help spot some issue on day to day work, and give me some design feedback, as well as the works process feedback as well. So I think this is the difference between the mentor and the manager. Yeah.
How do we measure this program? And how do we know if it's successful or not?
Yeah, that's a that's a really good question. Because like, design improvement is a very tangible things. One can be very clear is that actually seeing improvement in terms of design delivery, so the quality of the design is improved? That means the mentorship on craft is is, you know, it's it's working? And also, like, how do we measure it is that we align goals, I guess, monthly or bi monthly, with the mentee and their direct reports, just to make sure that the mentorship program is like, not adding too much extra work, and is still that it's still relevant to their daily job. And but for me personally, like the success is just seeing my own impact on the others. That's like, very, very, you know, it's hard to describe, but it's a it's a joy. It's a very different kind of joy.
And for you Pang
Yeah, for me, right? The success is like the mentor can give me the constructive feedback. And I really improve based on that feedback. So I think that's that is the success of like a joining this program. Yeah.
Did any of you had any mentorship experience before joining this program here at Agoda?
Yeah I have one before I joined Agoda, as I mentioned, right, I participate in TDC at a Agoda design challenge. So I also got our feedback and suggestion from Jeremy and Salie, they are the senior designer at agoda as well. So but at that time is only the short time period is only four weeks, I think so most of the feedback that I got at that time is about the design,
Yeah. But on this current mentorship program at agoda, that I have Rachel as a mentor, we have more time on that, we have chance to work together. So not only the feedback that relate to that the side that I got from Rachel, I also like to learn from her about the working process, how to break down the complexity and find a way to solve the user problem. How to collaborate with other stakeholder. Yeah, so not only a help to improve on the side side, but also here to improve in terms of the working process that will
Yeah, and how about you Rachel, what was your mentorship experience before joining this program here at Agoda
for me like I had a mentor, a mentor, when I was in university that's how my school operates is that every after sophomore year, you got to find you got to pitch your to your mentor so that they will take you as their mentee. And my school is kind of famous for like being really tough, but I was I was really benefited a lot a lot a lot from that mentorship two years with my mentor. I still stay friends with him. Like I still visit him every time when I go back to Taiwan whenever I had a chance to catch up with him and I so I know the feeling of successful what a successful mentorship looks like like I had a great experience I had a great mentor before
when you started this program what were your expectation in the beginning?
Yeah, for me right at the beginnings when I first joined my expectation is like I to have someone to guide me is that suggest me on how to deal with the issue of yeah as I mentioned or before because before that I only one designer. So I have no idea how to work with like, a lot of people here. So it's really helpful to have someone to guide me on this. And after that I am looking for someone who can spot my weakness, and give me the sugesstion on how to improve. Yeah, and finally help me to grow up to and become a good product designer. Yeah, this is my expectation.
I think my expectation was this, this was a very an act of a passion, like, the expectation. Was that, okay, I wanted to be a mentor, and transfer the knowledge that was the initial expectations. Yeah, but the expectations kind of changes as we go. Because you you learn on the way that okay, you are not telling other people to do something, you are coaching them, you're guiding them with different frameworks. That's more important, right? So I think the expectations of of mentorship program actually becomes clearer and clearer as we go out of area very beginning the first two months, I think that was a lot of just introducing to both of us to each other, knowing who you are getting to know each other. The expectation was just that, okay, we're gonna try this out and have something outcome at the end of the year. That was the very beginning. But I think as you know, as Pang mentioned, as we go through the program, we started to have a clearer goal of the expectation, what do you want? The outcome is?
What sort of challenges were you facing in the beginning? And how did you overcome those?
The challenges is, yeah, there was a definitely building trust is, is one of the biggest challenge. I think, as a mentor, like, it's about people. It's not about how you design this and that. And for me, as well, like, it's also imposter syndrome, like Who am I to coach the others? Or am I adding extra burden to the designers, right, I think those are the challenges is that are very self absorbing and like, yeah, it was a very, it was a big step outside of comfort zone. And there is a learning curves of like I said, like coaching versus telling them what to do that this job is to guide them to figure out by themselves. I think that is the, for me, that was a very challenging things to do. How I however, I did overcome this is by you know, again, like understanding the value what I can bring to the table. And then, you know, be as specific about the goal as you can be with that it kind of helps along, you know, to ease those challenges and to overcome them.
How about you Pang any challenges in the beginning?
Yeah, for me right, I think as this program is very, like, an early state, we don't have, the concrete plan, of like how program gonna look and what the process or approach that the mentor will give me to do so. Yeah, at that time, we I think we are facing some challenges that Rachel's, like, give me some side work and yeah, it's not like that related to what I'm bringing right now. So at that time, I struggle with like the workload so yeah, it's quite like a lot for me. So I
I like Yeah, yeah, that was a really interesting time because like, as as the beginning, we didn't know what to do we try role play like me, pm and she's a designer. We try like practicing communication with fake projects. You know, those those are failed attempts. But it was very important lessons.
Yeah, for the time being so we learn from like that. was we our process work well, or worse? It's not work well, so we share with Yeah, so right now I think it's better than the earliest date.
So speaking about the learning what are some of your main takeaway or lesson learned so far from this program?
Yeah, for me as a mentee right of course, I've lost a got of feedback many ways like to improvent by joining this program, and even though. I got a good sugestion from mentors but I will not get a benefit. If I don't Like I improve myself. So I think the important thing is like, you are willing to listen to the feedback, and then take the advice and improve yourself, like, in all the time. So yeah, if you do that, then definitely you will get a lot of benefit by time joining this program
Yeah, for me, like, I definitely encourage every designers that after some years of practice in design, go explore outside of craft craftsmanship as individual contributor, because it's a completely different kind of reward. When you are able to grow someone else. The impact you see yourself on them, it's incredible. That's a that was very rewarding for me. And that's why I've been doing that and still am very passionate about a comparison me like a year ago, a year and a half ago.
Do you feel this program and experience change, changed you in some way? And if so, how?
Definitely, it's changed me a lot. Like I can give you some examples. And so I am an introvert person. So it's really hard to me to like a present in front of like a many people are in the crowd. So at that time, I really want to improve my communication and presentation skill. So Rachel helped me to improve that she motivate me to like present my work in front of the whole designers. So yeah, of course, when I present I feel so so nervous, but after a presentation. Yeah, I got like, a good feedback from our other designers. So yeah, it's clearly meant to me, so it made me feel more confident and more comfortable to to do that. So yeah, this is one example of how mentorship program like, changed me in a better way.
I'm so happy to hear that Pang. Yeah, as a mentor, like the experience, this entire experience has taught me more about empathy than any project that I've been I work with, because it's all about people, you know, you're sharing the spotlight, you're practicing being being humbled. And it makes me more mature and sensitive. When I encounter like conflict with my stakeholders, or when I do designs, I have completely new perspective of how you know how someone who onboard with this project will think and experience, it definitely makes me a more mature and more empathetic. Yeah.
So we talked about the challenges and lessons learned. But if you could go back in time and do something different about this program, what would that be?
To be honest, I don't want like to go back in time and do something different for me, I already like for me,
it was a perfect experience.
On the other hand right, maybe in the future, if I can go in the future. I also want to be a mentors. So I think it's really like really a big like a challenge to try to being a mentor So you will learn a lot of things. Yeah, how to give their constructive feedback and how to spot other issues and how to guide them I think is really interesting.
That's really cool. So Rachel basically inspired you to be a mentor yourself.
I'm going to cry. Yeah, this whole deal. Like it's it's a definitely a learning experience as we go. But yeah, same, I wouldn't want to change anything either. You know, we try those those fails attend. And there was some issues, communications and like, self doubt, but those are the very essential part of, for me. It's important lessons when I how to intensive how to scale this program up, because right now, it's only one designer versus one, two designers, mentees mentor, but we if we wanted to, you know, taking this to a higher level in the organization level in the team level, right? How do you scale this up? And what we've done what we've been go through are all very important lessons to understand. And yeah, I feel so happy to you know, to have that feedback from Pang as well like inspire you to be wanted to be a mentor. giving feedback. A feedback itself is a gift. And I think whoever was able to practice giving that is a is a You know, that's your superpower as a designer.
So based on your experience and the very good experience from what I'm hearing both of you had, how would you define a good mentorship program for our listeners that, you know, curious and would like to mentor others?
I think the trust would be the base of everything, right? Like you have to be really care and empathize with another person, like, what is their passion, passion, what is their pain? What do they want to learn from you? And the best outcome of a good mentorship program is that we both ended up growing to become better designers. That's Yeah, that's from from me how I would define it.
Yeah, I definitely like our I agree with Rachel. I think the relationship between the mentor and mentee is the most important things. Yeah, to me, a good mentorship program should have a healthy relationship between the mentor and mentee. So we chose like a provider feedback and not only mentored us can give the mentee feedback. But the mentee also can give the feedback to the mentor as well. So yeah, make sure that we both are improving in the better way. Yeah.
And Rachel, understand that this program is open for people not only to go there, I'd actually reopen this program for our listeners. So if someone would like to join Agoda and join this mentorship, maybe you can give us some details how they can do that.
Yeah, sure. Um, so currently, this mentorship program that me and Pang is is more of an internal project. But if you want to have a taste of it, we are collaborating with TDC tamasa Design Center, which is the program that Pang joined in Thailand. It's a it's actually online courses. So it's open for everyone. It's English speaking. We provide slots for mentorship program with Agoda designers with full scholarship. So check them out, if you know really interested in in working with this. It's a short period of time, for a month. But from the feedback from, from the feedback that we gained so far from either to participants and also TBC themselves. People are really enjoying these sessions.
Awesome.Thank you so much for this inspiring talk today, Rachel and Peng, it was great to hear about your very good experience as a mentor and a mentee in this program. And I think it can be very useful for our listeners to learn from your experience.
Thank you so much for having us
Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoy this podcast, please leave us a review on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere you are listening and share it with your friends and colleagues. Don't forget to subscribe to our show to get notified when we are releasing a new episode. And if you want to learn more about the work of the design team at agoda visit agoda dot design.
Thanks again for listening and hope to see you in our next episode.