Having worked internationally for years, U.S.-born Amber Rucker currently resides in Barcelona as our Head Of Design. She discusses her passion for design and development, what attracted her to Veriff, and much more.
Since January 2022, Barcelona-based Amber Rucker has acted as Veriff’s Head Of Design. Prior to her current role, U.S.-born Amber lived and worked internationally, within a wide range of company life cycles, focusing on complex products and mission driven organizations.
We recently had a chat about her career to date, what drew her to Veriff, her day-to-day life at the company, her top hobbies, and more. Enjoy!
A lot of my career has been following things that I've been interested in or are a natural progression. I have always been a designer, I don't ever remember making the conscious decision to pursue it as a career.
While I was at university, I took a freelance job designing a website for a local non-profit, they had a very different definition of what “designing” meant and I had to learn how to write code rather quickly. I ended up loving it and the next chunk of my career was spent mainly as a developer who could design, then a designer who did research and eventually led all of those functions.
Having experience of all three of those things made it quite easy to transition into leading them and that's what I've been doing for quite a while now.
My plan was always to move to Barcelona, but COVID sped things up quite a bit. I ended up leaving London, sorting out piles of paperwork for visas and here I am. I’ve been here for around a year and a half now.
Barcelona is the absolute best place to be, I’m very happy with the choice I’ve made.
Right now, with how quickly the company is scaling, a lot of my job is to try and establish ways of working, processes and things so that we can scale effectively. I need to make sure that the team is speaking the same language, we're aligned and we’re working towards the same ends.
A significant amount of my time right now is around hiring as well. We're doing so much of it and making sure that we maintain the quality of our team, while growing very quickly, is a challenge, especially in the industry right now. It's challenging to hire exceptional designers this quickly.
As a whole, I’m leading a team that acts as the advocates for our users and customers and can help to center our product decisions around things that are important to them.
Currently, being rather new, my day-to-day life is around structuring processes for team hiring, ensuring that my team is in a good place, that the company, and the strategy, is not moving away from user needs, but moving closer to them, and overall ensuring the quality and unity of our design is underpinning all of that.
I really love and appreciate the momentum and how quickly we can pivot or establish change if things aren't working for the team anymore. There's so much experimentation and excitement.
Everyone here has a very clear vision of the future and why they're doing it. The feeling of being part of a movement and doing something that is good for the world is very front and center.
Recently I moved flats, so the majority of my free time is spent trying to sort that out currently.
Normally, I love rock climbing, wandering around the city aimlessly, and painting. I think that for people who are in tech and software, having a hobby where you physically produce something tangible is important. What we produce can be so ephemeral, it’s good to balance that.
I read a lot of books about cognitive science and behavioral science. There's so many really interesting reads around those things. If I had to pick one off the top of my head “Making Evil: The Science Behind Humanity's Dark Side” is a really interesting read.
For a better cafe read, there's one called “Flights” by Olga Tokarczuk. I traveled for years and it's a book that's made of short stories about the writer's experience with travel written in a very unique way. I really related to it.
I hate to say that I am an incredibly boring person when it comes to podcasts. I listen to the news, especially keeping up with American politics and current events. I think it's important for me, even if I no longer live there, to be informed and to vote from abroad. I used to work in politics as well, which, honestly, can be a tough field.
Honestly, at this point, I don't even know if I would know how to use a PC anymore. It's been a very long time.
The best advice I can give is to learn everything you can from everyone you can. At this point in tech, everything is possible and everything can be connected; if you decide you’re really into painting then that can become part of a career easily. Design is so open and fluid.
A lot of the early parts of your career are really about being inspired by others and picking things that you can learn from there.
It's very tempting to chase a job title, but making sure that you're picking positions where you’ll be around people who have different backgrounds and skills, who are more experienced than you and are willing to really mentor you, is so important.