Meet Rachel Stevens, one of our Senior Designers
A Northern Rivers girl at heart, Rachel Stevens is a Meanjin, Brisbane based Design Strategist who has been with The Growth Drivers since their humble beginnings as Asymmetric Innovation.
Rachel had no idea what Industrial Design was until it fell into her lap. Looking to help people out through any means possible, she considered studying Occupational Therapy, Midwifery or even Nursing before settling comfortably into Design thanks to a curiosity with caravans. Citing their ‘perfectly used space’ as inspiration to delve deeper into this foreign realm that made her tick, Rachel discovered the profession of Industrial Design and has been stuck on it ever since.
Before starting university, Rachel took a gap year where she travelled extensively and learned more about what she wanted out of life. When she returned, she moved to Brisbane to study at Queensland University of Technology. Sinking her teeth immediately into design, she loved the collaborative and human focus of her degree and instantly knew she had found the right path.
In her first year, Rachel worked on projects ranging from rice cookers, to cardboard toilets and even tackling issues around homelessness. It was through this later project that Rachel began to discover her love of design research - she was fascinated delving first hand into a topic she had no personal experience with, and it had her hooked.
Though she didn’t realise it at the time, her first few years of university helped shape her view on design and its implements; while she felt like studying design and problem solving was a world away from helping people like she had set out to do, she gradually realised the potential for impact her newly chosen career path was.
As part of her degree, Rachel went on exchange to Delft University of Technology, located in a small university-town about one hour south of Amsterdam. Studying a course called Interactive Environments, Rachel was exposed to an immersive world of learning and design experience. Working with a cross-collaborative team full of electrical engineers, architects and other great design minds, Rachel contributed to a long-term project over the semester, filling in her spare time getting to know local and international students, as well as lots of travel!
During her last two weeks of being abroad, she was contacted by a Professor at QUT who encouraged her to apply for an open internship at BMW Group, Munich. She was quickly accepted, and in a whirlwind change of plans that involved pressing pause on her last year of university, stayed in Europe for another year to work in the luxury car line’s production and logistics arm.
Working in the Munich office, Rachel worked as a part of their virtual and augmented reality laboratory where she eventually became the lead user interface and experience designer, designing interfaces and experiences for VR. After a year spent surrounded by an incredible team and mind-blowing technology, Rachel thought it might be time to return to her roots of design and human-centred research. Upon returning to Brisbane to complete her Honours thesis, Rachel began to think about what research topics could bring this passion into reality.
Alongside a number of different design jobs, Rachel worked on her thesis exploring the use of Medical Cannabis for people suffering from chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting; a design that is now the recipient of a Good Design Award and two awards from the Design Institute of Australia.
At the end of her degree, during an annual Industrial Design Graduate Exhibition, Rachel was scouted by Paul, one of The Growth Driver’s co-founders. After having a coffee and realising she was a perfect fit for the team, Rachel was officially hired as their fifth employee, serving initially as a Graphic Designer.
As she got stuck into it, the team realised how much more she had to offer! Many of the skills she had developed learning product design transitioned seamlessly into the innovation process used by TGD. Impressed with Rachel’s Industrial Design talent, she was taken on as a full-time designer.
Now more than two years into her career at The Growth Drivers, Rachel couldn't be more passionate about the problems they solve, the people she works with, and the impact they create. Day to day, her role changes dramatically. From starting with research, whether that’s desktop, interviewing, workshops, focus groups, observing people, to translating the data into accessible pieces of communication that folk can easily understand, Rachel is kept on her toes – and that’s just how she likes it!
Solid in her vision for contributing to a better world, Rachel feels lucky to have worked on a number of projects that have lasting impact on others.
From redesign single-use plastic products towards more sustainable alternatives, to working with dairy farmers to increase their on-farm sustainability practises, Rachel loves the fact that her impact is measured.
Citing the relaxed and supportive work culture at The Growth Drivers as one of her favourite things about the role, Rachel is excited to continue collaborating on important issues well into the future.