Meet Elena, super organised and creative Product Lead here at Koalaa. From her love for spreadsheets to her passion for helping people, here we find out more about what drives her.
What’s your background?
My background is in design and engineering. I studied Product Design Technology at Loughborough and it was there that I decided I wanted to focus on the medical industry.
For my final year project, I worked on a portable chest draining system. The project was inspired by a relative who had a problem with excess fluid round their lungs. They had to stay in hospital with a tube and just I thought there had to be a better way! A solution that meant they wouldn’t need to stay in hospital and could manage the whole process at home.
The project was intense but I took so much from it. It was then that I feel in love with the medical design process and knew that’s what I wanted to stay in.
What did you do before joining Koalaa?
After university, I joined a consultancy and started working on designs for children’s car seats. With so much to think about I was straight in at the deep end, on the design side of things!
While it hadn’t been a product I’d thought much about before, it was really interesting and I felt like I was doing some good. And it’s not often you’re designing something that needs to withstand crash tests!
From there, I joined Koalaa and two years later I’m still here and loving it!
What does your role entail?
As Product Lead at Koalaa, I oversee product development and the production side of things. That means taking a concept through from idea to production and also making sure everyone gets the products that they need. It takes a lot of organising and I love a spreadsheet!
We have an amazing team and we’re lucky to have so much direct contact with users. It means we’re able to take an idea, make a prototype, get feedback and progress a concept really quickly. Depending on the product, we can take an idea someone gives us and have something out for them to try within a month, if not sooner. Then after finalising the design and manufacturing process, we can have gone from a concept to having something out the door within just a few months.
It can be hard in terms of there not being enough hours in the day - but at the same time, it’s so cool to working on products at different stages of their production and to see the whole process through from an idea to a finished product.
Best thing about working at Koalaa?
Definitely the team I have around me.
It’s an amazing blend of creatives, engineers and designers, plus we have the input of people like Alex Lewis, Caroline and other members of the Koalaa Community, who we get ideas from.
It’s always a buzz to get good feedback about what we’ve created and to hear how our products have helped enhance someone’s life. It makes it all worthwhile.
It just fits everything I want to be putting my time and effort into. I’m getting to put the skills I enjoy – such as design, CAD and generally being organised! – to good use.
In the design world, there are many different routes you can go down. At Koalaa, I feel I can help make a difference to people’s lives, so what more could I want?