Works Five: Courage and Change

Mar 26, 2021 Kate Heron Interviews

International Women’s Day — celebrated on March 8th — is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. This March, we’re turning our focus to the Women of the Works. Each week we’ll highlight a few our outstanding people, and share their answers to key questions about mentorship, their successes and what they hope for the next generation of young creative leaders.

Our third interview is with Bahar Sotooteh. Bahar came to Works Design in 2016 as a temporary Admin Assistant; at the end of her contract, we did the smart thing and hired her full time. As Administrative and Human Resources Coordinator, she keeps operations at Works Design ticking with Swiss Watch precision. While keeping the studio on track, Bahar is also working toward her HR Management Certificate at George Brown, which will help her take our HR game up another notch. (Also, she’s a good enough baker to be on one of those shows, seriously.)

Kate Heron: What do you remember about your educational experience?

Bahar Sotooteh: I studied social sciences at Ryerson University, the majority of the class were girls. We had a few male nursing students at one of my classes, and because I grew up in Iran and went to All Girls schools, for me it was interesting, because at that point I was a newcomer, and in Iran we do not have many male nurses.

KH: Would you say you have had any mentors or role models that have influenced the way you do your job?

BS: Of course. We have a lawyer in the family, and my first job was working at his office part time. He was one of my biggest mentors: all I know about Canadian culture is because of him. And after that, I learned a lot from Adriana about how to do your job ethically — and customer relations.

KH: What are the most difficult challenges an administrative professional faces?

BS: In my job, I feel it’s my responsibility to have an answer and solution for every issue that comes to me. But sometimes it’s out of my hands, or I don’t have the authority to do something — and I hope people understand. I never have any intention to deny needs or ignore requests, sometimes I just need to talk to others before making decisions.

KH: In your professional career, what was the bravest thing you’ve ever had to do?

BS: Changing which industry I work in — Works Design is where I’ve gained my experience with design and communications. It’s been important to learn how to get help from the right people, and be open to new ideas.

KH: How you see and experience the world is who you are. Are you able to bring that to what you do? How?

BS: Honestly, no. And I blame myself for this, I am a reserved person. I don’t share a lot, and I can’t expect people to know me.

I’ve met so many brave women around me. I hope the young women graduating today get a chance to present themselves, to talk for themselves, and to believe in themselves. I come from a very judgmental culture (towards women), but even in that environment, women grow stronger every day.

Chie is a digital designer with over a decade of experience — and helps our clients produce online material that stands out. She has formal training both in graphic design and front-end programming, which allows her to see user experience challenges both creatively and functionally. Chie has contributed to our award-winning work with GTAA and Corby.

KH: What do you remember about your educational experience?

Chie: I went to a design college in Osaka to learn graphic design after university.

KH: Tell me about the very first place where you worked on or around design/communications.

Chie: After graduating design college, I started working for a design agency that focused on print design. I designed calendars, posters for art exhibitions, brochures, editorials, and so on. It was a small company, so I learned a lot about working directly with clients.

KH: Would you say you have had any mentors or role models that have influenced the way you do your job?

Chie: My first mentor was a creative director at the first design agency I worked for in Osaka. He always told me we should not add anything without any meaning, because the most beautiful design is a blank sheet of white paper. We designers are adding something to it. This idea is still deep in my mind, so I always try to be simple when I design. I always try to practise minimalism whenever I can.

KH: What are the most difficult challenges a professional designer faces?

Chie: I think the most difficult challenge as a designer is facing “personal” opinions, and being able to say no. As I mentioned above, design decisions need to have meaning, and coming up with alternative ideas is an important skill to have when there are disagreements.

KH: In your professional career, what was the bravest thing you’ve ever had to do?

Chie: Deciding to go to Canada instead of Tokyo! I wanted to learn about UI/UX design and I also wanted to leave Osaka, my hometown, to gain more experience in both my career and my life. I was considering moving to Tokyo but then I thought: why don’t I go abroad? I took English in university and Canada was at the top of my list.

Stay tuned through the rest of March, as we highlight more of the fabulous talent at Works Design.

Marketing Manager Kate Heron standing on a hill.
Kate Heron
Marketing Manager Kate Heron standing on a hill.

Kate is our Marketing Manager. She’s got a knack for research, writing and Google Analytics. She is an ardent surfer, a sometimes resident of New Hampshire, and fosters Future Guide Dogs for the Lions Foundation of Canada. You can find her going off about Boston sports at @KateHeronWorks.

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