In conversation with… Jaclyn Kirkman

We met Jaclyn at a recent Pharma conference where she gave a great talk about the importance of design thinking.

She’s been at GSK for five years and is a Digital Insights Manager, specialising in employee insights. Her role is rooted in user-behavior, qualitative feedback on applications and processes, and reducing the effort and time it takes for employees to complete their jobs. She has an obvious passion for sharing the importance of having a customer-centric mind-set and driving performance with data-driven decisions. At GSK she’s leading a growing global community of users who participate in digital experiments which provide insights to inform support functions in decision-making and process or product design. Oh and she’s learning to be a Yoga instructor. And she makes the most amazing cakes…

What was your first ever job?

When I was 16, I was a lifeguard at an expensive sports club. I thought it would be an ideal job, but in reality it was quite boring. One summer they played the same Steve Miller Band album over and over again, which made the task of staring at a pool for 5 hours straight a lot more torturous.

Who would you most love to share a coffee with / go for a drink with? 

I would love to get a drink with Paul McCartney. I have been listening to the Beatles ever since I was three. The first song I learned on the guitar was “Blackbird.” I was so humbled to be able to see him perform live twice, once with my parents and once at a large festival.

Highlight of your career (so far?) 

The highlight of my career thus far was being able to present to my MBA class about leading the eye-tracking and user-testing for a digital product at GSK. The second highlight was a year later being able to present that experience in a more conceptual format at a conference. Sharing synergic experiences that I’ve grasped from continuous education and on-the-job learning truly brings everything full-circle for me.

Nature or nurture? 

That is a great question. I really do not think it’s one or the other, I think it’s both depending on the topic. In reality, this answer could be different for everyone and everything we encounter in our lives. Perhaps some do end up living their lives in a “self-fulfilling prophecy.” I do not believe that everyone has to, or, is stuck in a situation due to nature. It is all about how we choose to react or what perceptions we have, based off of what we truly and inherently learn about ourselves over the years, not what people tell us is right.

Best advice you ever heard or received?

I recently completed my 200-hour Baptiste-affiliated yoga teacher training, one of the most impactful concepts I walked away with is: “You are perfect, you may have just forgotten.” Self-love and acceptance are sometimes difficult for me to show up with, but knowing that everyone (including me) is perfect, whole, and does not need fixing, is an amazing thing. This shows up in the workplace for me when I take-on challenging projects, present to large groups, or interview for a new role. Instead of just believing I’m capable, actually knowing that I’m capable, is something I’ve had to work towards in my life and at my job.

What talent do you yearn for? 

I would love to be able to sing. I think I sound great in the shower (great acoustics) or in my car. In front of other people and objectively, I’m probably garbage.

What is your favourite brand and why? 

Currently, my favorite brand is Glossier. Their marketing is absolutely brilliant and their customer service goes above and beyond. This makeup brand that highlights natural beauty instead of covering up “flaws,” resonates with me so well. Glossier’s content shows us real life, which on today’s social media, is an anomaly.

What book do you most recommend to others?

The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz. My father gifted me with this book and for a while, it was sitting on my bookshelf unread. On a flight to Portugal, I began reading it and finished before the plane even landed. This book initially came into my life at a time where I was adverse to advice or someone/something telling me how to live my life. When I actually opened and read the book, I was finally ready to grow and it could not have been more impactful.

What last impressed you at work? 

The support and encouragement that exists throughout the organisation impresses me daily. I have always felt empowered to seek out a coach, mentor, or ask a question to anyone no matter their role. This makes me feel like people care about my development and invest time in growth. I am so grateful for all of the managers and mentors I’ve had throughout my career, and I am always impressed at the length people go to support you when they believe in you.

Which lesson has been the hardest to learn? What failure did you learn the most from? 

The hardest lesson I’ve had to learn is that failure is a good thing. I can be a perfectionist in the workplace and I always thought that delivering a project through the full-cycle was what success looked like. I learned this when we failed to launch an internal digital hub, it never went live and that was hard. We spent time, money, and effort trying to create something that lacked empathy for our customers, it was disappointing at first, but we gathered so much behavioral data and qualitative feedback from users we were able to take those learnings and bring them to any future digital project to enable empathy and ultimately success.

What do you want to do when you retire? 

I would love to teach yoga classes on a beach in Hawaii or Bali (I have never been to either of those places) and then follow class up with conversing over cake. Baking and yoga are my two favorite hobbies!

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