WOMEN IN TECH PROFILE: CATHERINE RENDELL
March 7, 2023 by CLG TEAM
Catherine Rendell has very rightfully achieved ‘rock star status’ having worked across graphic design, UI/UX and becoming a Senior Manager within the games industry.
She shares with us the historic activists that inspire her, her curiosity for other people’s experiences and her hope for an ethical and fair future in tech.
Read more about this incredible woman in tech.
Can you tell us about the journey that led you to a career in technology and what your career progression has looked like since?
After completing a degree in Graphic Design, I started out as a Motion Graphics Designer working in TV, and then landed a role as a Graphic Designer working in print and digital design. I was always tinkering with the backend code when I was designing and building websites so jumped at the chance to become a User Interface Artist at a games studio when I learnt the role involved building interfaces using Flash and ActionScript. When I started with the studio there were around 120 employees, only 5 of whom were women. I've continued working in games as a UI Designer at various levels of seniority and have had the opportunity to lead projects and teams. In 2015 I completed an Honours degree in Psychology, which allowed me to broaden and evolve my design practice, and I now work in the UX (User Experience) field. I am currently a Senior Manager and manage a team of UX research and design practitioners based across the globe whose work focuses on improving the usability of our proprietary game engine, Frostbite.
What have been the biggest highlights of your career so far?
There is a certain 'rock star status' that you gain when working in games, especially among gamers and I first experienced this when I worked on Ricky Ponting Cricket, 2005. This console game was hugely popular and was #1 on the UK games charts, and I remember being out one night and having a group of people surrounding me just so they could talk to someone who had worked on the game. Years later, this still happens when I tell people I work in game development, and I get a thrill out of being part of the creation of something that people are so positively passionate about.
Who or what inspires you as a woman/individual in technology?
I've always been inspired by pioneering activists from history whose direct action championed the cause of minority and marginalised groups. Women like Merle Thornton and Rosalie Bogner who chained themselves to a bar rail in the Regatta Hotel, Queensland in 1965 to bring awareness to pay inequality and the exclusion of women from public spaces and public life. I love stories of daring, courage, and defiance like theirs and draw inspiration from the bravery of campaigners and protesters throughout history.
Why do you think diversity in tech is important?
I think diversity is important in all workplaces and public life. Having a broader range of ideas, experiences, perspectives, and voices in the room improves the chance of developing novel and creative solutions and increases exposure to a variety of knowledge and skills. Also, working in UX, I'm curious about people's experiences and always look forward to opportunities to learn from a diversified group of colleagues and users.
Do you have advice for women or diverse individuals who might be considering moving to a role in tech?
Just jump in and give it a go! You don't have to be 'one of the boys' to succeed, so feel empowered to be yourself and voice your opinion. If you do feel intimidated in meetings or presentations, seek out allies that will support you and ask them to champion your voice by purposefully asking for your input and perspective.
What do you hope for the future of tech?
When it comes to disruptive technologies, like neurotechnology and AI, I hope for the establishment of universal codes and laws related to ethical issues like privacy, autonomy and agency, and social and cultural bias. While these discussions are happening among researchers, bioethicists, developers, and industry peers, I hope the audience widens to include the public sphere in an effort to ensure that technology develops alongside societal values, and is responsible, ethical and fair.
QUICK FIRE ROUND:
What's the best investment you've made in your career under $1000?
Noise-cancelling headphones - essential when working next to a construction site.
What's your favourite quote or mantra?
“No, I am not moving until I am paid”. - Grace Jones
Name a book that has inspired you.
The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge
One piece of tech you can't live without?
My Kobo e-reader - it's waterproof so I can read in the pool and the bath.