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Laura kalbag

Designer & co-founder, ind.ie

 

And - author, blogger and speaker

You bring your own unique traits, skills and approach into the field, and that's what makes you so valuable.

What do you do?

Ind.ie is a tiny two-person not-for-profit, so I get to do a lot of different jobs all at once, including running the business. As a designer, I create logos, icons, and design apps and websites. As a web developer, I get to make those websites work across all kinds of different devices. I also reply to the support queries from people using our apps, trying to make our apps work better for them.

 

As an advocate for ethical design, privacy and accessibility, I often give talks at conferences around the world and write articles, encouraging other people in the tech industry to build ethical technology that respects people’s rights. I also get to do research in the area, trying to architect ethical and inclusive alternatives to mainstream technology.

Why did you choose this field?

"I wanted to learn everything I could about web design and development."

Since I was a child, I knew I’d wanted to work in design. I loved creating and building things for other people to use. I’d make models of houses and robots for my younger siblings to play with, and design pretend books and magazines. 


In my teenage years, my love for design morphed into a love for the web. Back then, social media didn’t really exist, but folks made cool personal websites. The web gave access to information and communication to almost everyone, it wasn’t elitist or expensive to learn. When I was sixteen, I made my first website, looking up tutorials on how to change the colours and the fonts. It was so satisfying to be able to make a web page do exactly what I wanted, and that other people could see those changes on their computer in an instance. 

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

"I didn't think anyone would care about what I'd have to say, it turns out a few thousand people do."

Last year my book ‘Accessibility For Everyone’ was published in paperback and ebook formats, and last month I released an audiobook version. I never thought I’d write a proper book that would be read by people I’d never met, let alone narrate an audiobook. 

 

I also grew up assuming that working in design would mean I’d be working in a huge office in a big city somewhere. Now I work from home in the countryside. I choose my own hours, have no commute, and get to walk my dog whenever I like. It’s pretty great!

Why do you love working in STEM?

I love how the web and technology gives us the ability to make progress at speed, and enables us to connect with a wide range of people from all over the world. We can make new things without having to have loads of money, build huge factories, or ask permission. The web community also has a great culture of sharing what you learn. We help each other try to build better technology.

Best advice for the next generation

You can do it your own way. You bring your own unique traits, skills and approach into the field, and that’s what makes you so valuable.

Role model 

One of my greatest role models is my mother, Suzy Kalbag. She approached every task in her life assuming she’d be able to do it, and would work with determination until she achieved it. She taught me to ignore people who assumed I couldn’t do something, and delight in proving them wrong. Appreciate those who support you, and put love into everything you do.