Inspirational Woman: Yasmin Borain | Chief Experience Officer, Tribal Worldwide

Yasmin Borain

For the past 20 years Yasmin’s focus has been experience design and innovation strategy.

She specialises in problem solving for tomorrow and helping brands reinvent themselves to connect with customers and society in new and meaningful ways. Yasmin drives teams and clients to be bold thinkers and tackles a broad range of strategic customer experience challenges across automotive, finance, healthcare, luxury, retail and travel. Yasmin also nurtures the next generation of designers around the world through mentoring and talks.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I was the first person in my family to be born in the United States. My family is from Germany – I’m German, American, and more recently I also became British. I feel very lucky to be a part of three amazing cultures.

Since I was two years old, I wanted to be an artist (the only other career I ever considered was a brain surgeon) – I always drew on anything I could find. I had so many ideas to share.

My parents encouraged me to study graphic design which led me to a whole new world of expressing my ideas – especially later when I got into multimedia design. Before I moved to the UK, I lived in San Francisco for 12 years and that is where I did my Master of Fine Art (MFA). While others in my programme were building websites, I was exploring how to merge the physical and digital worlds. I spent 18 months building a smart space – this redefined who I was as a creative thinker.

Afterwards, I worked for agencies including R/GA, MRM McCann and Publicis. Fast forward to today, I’m at Tribal Worldwide London as its Chief Experience Officer looking after the customer experience (CX) team and practice.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Yes, I’ve always been very passionate about what I do and where I was going.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Yes, and without career challenges we can’t progress or develop ourselves or our teams. The very premise of a challenge is problem solving which is what our work is centred on.

One challenge I faced was not being able to mix my passion for creativity with my love for travel. I always envisioned working for an agency where I would be placed in a different office every six or 12 months, yet for most of my career the industry was limited in providing that work life. Thankfully, this has, and will continue to, change which is exciting. Living and working in different markets stretches your mind and soul and helps designers create more authentic and meaningful experiences.   

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I love designing for the future and my MFA thesis project was on that. One day a friend, Sheel, and I were discussing how our environments don’t know or understand us. So, we started designing and building a smart and connected space. An interactive environment that we hoped would create a new forum for social interaction and communication – merging human senses with the digital world.

Besides that, I would say being part of the Nike Innovation team at R/GA San Francisco. We were a small team creating experiences that changed shopping forever.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Believing that anything is possible!

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I started mentoring in 2005/2006 where I became part of the iCouldBe community to mentor high school students. Since then, I have mentored individuals and groups both in and outside the design community. I think mentoring is very important to give back to the industry and to help support the next generation of creative thinkers.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

Remove the gender pay gap! Another important factor is to get everyone, and I mean everyone, to speak to young girls, teenage girls and women differently.

I have two boys and both women and men use words such as strong, brave and curious when speaking to them. However, in the same breath, when their friends who are girls are around, they use words such as pretty, adorable, beautiful. Don’t get me wrong, hearing those words is great and very important, but they shouldn’t be the only words. All girls and women, no matter what age, need to hear how strong, bold, and fearless they are.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

The same advice I gave myself then and the advice I give myself still today. “Never stop exploring, learning and fighting for what is right and for what you want. Think big and always treasure your gift of seeing things differently. And remember to always stay inspired by life.”

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

We just had this pandemic that touched everyone globally. While experiences varied, we were all impacted. Those shared experiences have forced us to think and solve problems with a more global mindset. In doing so, I hope, with the great thinkers, partners and clients around me, we carve out spaces and create services that demonstrate global solidarity. Truly designing experiences that fold around the needs of people and our global society.

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