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Farai Madzima UX Lead at Shopify (Canada)
  • Born in Zimbabwe, Farai was going to be doctor but didn't get the grades. Now he's a designer. Make of that what you will.
    Using words, scribbles, and pixels he's spent the last 14 years helping design and build products and teams in the UK, South Africa and Canada.
    Today, he makes a living designing interactions and leading a team as a UX Lead at Shopify in Ottawa.
    In South Africa, Farai designed banking apps used by many across the continent. He grappled with unique design challenges because most internet users have never used a laptop or desktop. And some buy data by the megabyte.
    Farai enjoys speaking about bridging knowledge gaps between designers. He's appeared at events worldwide, including IXDA Interaction and IASummit.
    He organises Pixel Up! and Source Up! conferences and meetups in South Africa. These events connect designers and developers in Africa with their peers around the world.
    Also, he likes words, in all languages, township jazz, nerdy hip-hop, and the number 127.



09:00 - 12:30

Room 1

Diverse Teams Working Together Across Cultures

Diversity of thought in our teams is key for organisations looking to create inclusive products. Bringing together talented professionals from around the world increases our ability to design and build things that solve problems for billions without discrimination.

Our international teammates bring unique perspectives, values, and ideas from their home cultures which can help us improve our products. But could those same differences increase the opportunities for misunderstanding and conflict and make it difficult for us to work together effectively?

In this workshop Farai will explain key differences between cultures and how these differences show up in the workplace. Through practical exercises he'll show how we can build our cultural awareness and work together better in diverse, multicultural teams.

This workshop is for:

- People working outside the country they grew up in

- People working with teams in other countries(in-person or remote)

- Managers of multi-cultural teams

- HR and talent acquisition teams hiring across cultures

What topics will be covered?

- Understanding cultural relativism

- Gaining cultural self awareness

- Understanding how culture influences work practices

- Methods for avoiding and handling"cultural friction" at work

What exercises will be done?

- Learn the ways in which cultures differ from each other

- Role play to explore how cultural differences can lead to conflict

- Role play to experience techniques for mindful observation and establishing empathy

What will the audience take away from this workshop?

- How cultural differences show up and affect people in the workplace

- How to reduce the anxiety associated with cross-cultural interactions

- What to consider when presenting to multicultural teams

- Ways to improve communication in multicultural teams

- Ways to review designs and give feedback in multicultural teams

- How to effectively lead multicultural teams

- Tips on improving hiring practices to be more inclusive of diverse cultures



16:15 - 16:50

Aud I

The Only One of Your Kind in the Room

Perils and Opportunities
We are solving the challenges of building and maintaining diverse teams. Slowly. As a result we find people from minority groups being the only ones of their kind in a team, project, or company. For some this is an opportunity to stand out and excel. Yet for others, particularly from under-represented minorities, it is a position of vulnerability. Being "one of a kind" stops them from bringing their whole authentic selves to work. 

“I’m the only ______ person here, if I say it, they won’t understand.” “If I say the wrong thing will they think it’s because I’m a ______ person.” “They only invited me because I’m a ______ person.” 

In this talk, Farai traces his career journey from contributor to lead, during most of which he was the only one of his kind in the room. He also shares insights from interviews he’s conducted with tech contributors and leaders around the world. 

The result is a session filled with tactics that leaders can use immediately to better understand, mentor, and sponsor the “one of a kind” folks in their teams to their full potential.