Skip to content Skip to footer

Women in Tech: Breaking Barriers with Joan Adorno

women in tech
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Summary: Women have been traditionally underrepresented in the tech industry, but this trend is slowly changing. More and more women are breaking into tech roles and making significant contributions to the field. T​​his blog post will explore the experiences of Joan Adorno, an enterprising and forward-thinking woman who is disrupting the Service Design field with her fresh and inventive ideas.

Table of Contents

As part of our ongoing commitment to shine a spotlight on the accomplishments and experiences of women in tech, we are excited to share our latest Women in Tech Spotlight featuring Joan Adorno, a dynamic and innovative woman who is making waves in the Service Design industry.

Joan Adorno is a Business and Service Designer at Wovenware, where she has led the development of human design practices and has helped with the design of digital solutions that help our clients succeed. With more than 10 years of experience in the industry, Joan has established herself as a respected leader and expert in Design Thinking and Innovation.

In our Women in Tech Spotlight, we sat down with Joan to learn more about her journey, her perspectives on the industry and her advice for women who are just starting out. We hope that her story will inspire and empower women in tech, and help to create a more diverse and inclusive industry for the future.

Can you tell us about your background and how you became interested in service design?

Before I became a business and service designer, I was working as a business analyst and project lead for almost 8 years in the financial industry. I was writing requirements and looking for process efficiencies and also managing resources, budgets and timelines – basically everything related to project management. I first became interested in service design, when I got the opportunity to participate in a program that exposed us to what Design Thinking was, and at that moment something clicked in my head, I finally found something that would involve users and customers into the business equations and processes, and for me that was it. I think my love for design was always in my blood.

Tell us about your studies

I have a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez and 24 approved credits in a master’s in Engineering Management from the Polytechnical University of Puerto Rico. Additionally, I have several IDEO U design thinking certifications and a Scrum Master’s certification. I’m currently working on one certification from the Interaction Design Foundation. My purpose right now is to continue getting certifications and learning to improve my design-oriented mindset.

What was your first job in the field?

Funny enough- I got my  first job in the field the day after my university graduation. I was working in the automotive industry, specifically in the service department for Nissan. My job title was Master Kaizen, which basically means that I was in charge of continuous improvement within the Nissan service department. My first job in tech was as a business analyst, where I got to participate in different initiatives for improving or implementing digital processes and services for internal employees.  

How would you describe your design philosophy or approach?

My design approach has always been to get into a project with an open mind. In Spanish there is a saying: “Yo solo sé que no se nada”, which in English means “The only thing I know is that I know nothing.” To be able to really understand what our clients need, you have to be able to learn from them, they are the experts. We’re the partners that guide and help them get to the best solutions for their needs.

Was there someone that inspired you along your career path?

There have been many people that have inspired me in my career path, it depends on the stage of my career. But, the constant throughout my whole career have been friends and family who have helped guide me into where I am today. I also take inspiration from friends that have achieved excellence in their careers. They inspire me to grow everyday and their support, along with my family, really motivates me to be better than the day before. 

Have you had a mentor in your career? 

I think my mentor right now is Dana Montenegro. Dana has proven to be an excellent mentor. As my boss, he’s very honest, straightforward and fun. I love that he guides me and pushes me to get out of my comfort zone. He sees a future and potential in me. That is really important for me in my career and growth.

How and when did you join Wovenware?

I joined Wovenware in 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic, it was my first 100% virtual recruitment process. I first started as project coordinator because at that time we were just starting the service design practice and there were no positions available yet. As a project coordinator I was also doing designer tasks, and after a year I fully transitioned to the business and service part of the company.

What about Wovenware appealed to you?

What interested me about Wovenware was that it was a Puerto Rican tech company, led by two engineers that graduated from the University of Mayagüez. Also specifically for me it was an opportunity to be part of a design practice and the fact that I would have a chance to help shape what that practice could be in the future.

Can you tell us about your position as business designer/project coordinator?

My position as a business and service designer is focused on merging the business goals and opportunities with the needs of their customers and/or users. I help clients understand what their users are saying they want and need, and help guide them to provide the best solutions using UX research, prototyping, journey mapping, among other design tools.

Can you talk about a particularly challenging project you have worked on and how you overcame many obstacles?

Right now I can’t remember a particular one but every project has its challenges; they vary from client to client and project to project. For me challenges will always be present, but what I love about design is the ability to pivot when presented with the challenges. Design works within the fuzzy part of developing strategy, products and or services, which means that there is little structure at the beginning but we have the flexibility to change approaches, if needed. New research, new technologies and new ways of working will always come forward and provide new challenges to every project. For me it’s facing the challenge, adapting and pivoting that helps us create in the end.

How do you incorporate a human-centered design approach into your work?

Everyday of my life I question the functionality, design, and efficiency of every object, service and product. I’m questioning if they meet basic user needs based on their design and functionality. So, I try to research and/or test everything myself to get a basic understanding of what it is I’m working with and from there I start to question everything.

How do you approach diversity and inclusivity in your work?

I try to be an advocate to equal pay and equal opportunities for everyone. I support full collaborative teams and understand that providing continuous feedback is key.  

Can you discuss any leadership or mentorship roles you have taken on in your career?

I like that you asked this question, because actually this year I have been mentoring a Master’s student getting her degree in engineering management. We meet once a week to discuss her class topics and just to talk about our experiences. We discuss possible or current situations in the workplace and how we would approach them. I try to give her insights into my past experiences and help her understand the business part of managing others. My current role has given me the necessary insights to be able to share these experiences and knowledge to other emerging professionals and to help them get to where they want to be.

What advice would you give to rising women in service design? 

Don’t be scared. Working in design will sometimes be messy and unorganized and you are going to feel lost. The important thing is that you take it step by step, sometimes take a step back and try to organize the chaos in a way that makes sense to YOU, and keep building from there. Everything else will fall into place. 

What do you see as the future of service design?

For me the future of service design is that all companies approach each project with human-centered design. By starting right, you almost guarantee that you will provide the products and services that the customers and users need. In a world where a negative user experience can break you, you need to do everything in your power to make sure that that doesn’t happen, and design does that for you. 

Tell us a little about yourself and what you love to do in your spare time

I’m the second oldest of four sisters, yep all girls! I’m also an animal lover, and I currently have two dogs – one adopted and one rescued, their names are Wasabi and Soya. I love sports. I used to play volleyball and softball in high school, but no matter what sport it is I will give it a go. In my spare time, I make candles as a hobby, love to go to the beach because it brings me peace, and also finding out what next home improvement project I will tackle. I love interior design so my apartment is always under construction.

Want To Discuss A Project?

Make bolder choices. Form stronger teams, Build better products.