Christine Welsh, Design Team Lead at Philips, whose encounter with cancer gave the eureka moment that is helping to save lives

Meet Christine, the Design Team Lead at Philips whose encounter with cancer gave the eureka moment that is helping to save lives.

Christine Welsh spent her university years living in a hospital, personally observing how smart design and technology can save lives. Beating cancer and graduating within the discipline of technology, she has turned her experience into a career designing the interfaces used by doctors and nurses. Her ultimate goal is that no one notices her work as she strongly believes good design should “help you get things done, without getting in the way.”

We first heard Christine’s story on the new work podcast “The Spark” by Philips, a podcast sharing inspiring stories from their employees. 

Name:  Christine (Chrissy) Welsh
Age: 36
Location: Amsterdam
Current title | Company: Senior Creative & Team Lead at Philips
Education: Masters in Applied Graphics with Multimedia Technology
Website / social media pages: Twitter: @chrissywelsh

What inspires your life and your career choice?

Finding out I had cancer at 19 was a curse and singularly one of the defining moments in my life. I fought very hard for my life and health, and I still value it today as I’ve learned that if you don’t have your health you really don’t have much. Cancer also gave me a deep realisation that time is the one commodity that is limited. Where, how and who you spend time with are important decisions. I aim to always live a very full life.

How did you start out your career?

After graduation, I started working at design agencies and even started my own tech company making web crawlers for enterprise software. It taught me a lot about business and was incredibly innovative and successful. But I wanted to live and work abroad so I sold the company and moved to The Netherlands.

So you moved abroad and started at Philips, what has your experience been?

Philips has given me an opportunity to do what I do best (Design Software) but in an area I am passionate about (Health Tech). I’m incredibly fortunate to work with a world class design management team that understands creating quality design and actively supports making a real difference in people’s quality of life. They get it.

Sounds like an exciting environment! How do you prepare for a day at Philips?

Getting ready in the mornings is an autopilot affair. I work in the Eindhoven office twice a week so it’s an early 6am start involving a large travel mug of Scottish tea. I sip it on the train whilst running through my work emails. That’s how the start of my day goes.

You have a clear strategy for starting your workday, is it the same for ending it? How do you maintain work-life balance?

I take the “life” part of work-life balance pretty seriously. I think it’s especially tempting as women to fall into the have-it-all trap. You do everything. But you don’t need to do everything. You just need to do your best. In that mind-set I think we only get a set amount of energy a day to direct at anything. I treat energy like money by choosing what I spend it on. While at work I give 100% of myself, and when you work on something you love it can give you energy too. I think that’s also a good payoff to try to create for yourself!

When I leave work I switch modes, mindfully leaving work at the office, and do other activities for fun such as, yoga, race biking, cooking and laughing with some of my favourite people.

Why do all of this? What is the significance of design?

I think people seriously underestimate the impact design has, and can have if done well, on our lives and environment. Every portion of our day we are interacting passively or actively with items or places which have been designed. Our laptops, our office, our clothes and yes even the flavour of tea we drink!

How is design changing lives?

With a growing aging population, we need to get smart about how we manage our health. Design has an important role to play in Health Tech; better designed machines, faster interactions, and new innovations together have the ability to save lives. Innovations like AI can make fast accurate diagnosis whilst connected patient data allows us to consults with experts worldwide. These innovations are essential in gaining insight into our current health and furthering the work of preventative care. 

What advice would you give aspiring designers?

Work on a diverse range of projects, your portfolio is key for people to understand your abilities – make it digital and make it great! Then put yourself out there.

As a woman at work, what advice would you give to women at work?

  • Do what you love, do what you’re good at; hopefully they are both the same.
  • Find people that support and appreciate your efforts at work.
  • Never be afraid to promote the great job you do.

You can lisen to the podcast interview with Christine Welsh over at “The Spark” and many more thought provoking stories.

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