Interview with Jessica Dorazio, Product Designer at Ayogo:
“Meet an Ayogi!”
Welcome back to our ‘Meet an Ayogi’ series, where we spotlight the talented and diverse individuals that make Ayogo thrive! Today, we’re thrilled to introduce you to Jessica Dorazio, whose journey from business development leadership to product design at Ayogo is nothing short of inspiring. This interview was conducted by Michael Fergusson, CEO of Ayogo.
Let’s dive into the conversation!
Michael: It’s nice to be talking with you. The weather is a bit gray and dreary where we are right now, so it’s nice to have this chance to brighten it up with an interesting conversation… Let’s get started! Please introduce yourself, and let people know what it is that you do at Ayogo.
Jessica: Absolutely. First of all, thanks for having me! I’m Jessica. At Ayogo, I recently made a career change into the world of product design, and patient partner program management. It’s a significant change from what I’ve done for the previous ~7+ years, which was leadership in business development. Currently, my role at Ayogo involves working with our design team to create, and develop solutions that meet the needs of our users. Previously, my role was focused on bringing our LifePlan platform to market. To reference crossing the chasm, my role involved identifying and partnering with early adopters who are visionaries, working with them to develop hypotheses, and testing those hypotheses with patients, partners, and ultimately in the market. It’s truly been an exciting time to join the company!
M: Wow. What a great job. If I didn’t have my job, I’d want your job (laughs). You know, you’re at the point of the spear, if you’ll pardon the metaphor, of reaching unexplored market territory; talking to and understanding the needs of customers and end users, and helping them apply new technology and approaches. I mean, that’s a pretty interesting place to land in your career. Maybe you can just talk a little bit about how you got to that role and lay it out in time for us so we get a sense of how you ended up in your current position.
J: Yeah, I can do that. In terms of my background, I graduated with a bachelor’s in commerce, majoring in marketing at the Sauder School of Business at UBC. While in school, I started my career on the business side of tech through co-op experiences. From there, I went on to launch my career after graduating in business development and growth roles in tech. Specifically, I started in the Market Research industry, and then, ventured into Health and Digital Health.
M: There must have been a lot of opportunities that you turned down, especially coming out of business school. Like, I could have gone this way, but I chose to go that way. What were some of the early choices that got presented to you in your career that you had to make some decisions around?
J: Yeah – that summary of my background doesn’t paint the entire picture, as I imagine is the case for most people. I started in business school after high school, and I struggled on many fronts to figure out the right path for me. I remember feeling like I needed to have one defined path, and have it all figured out, or I’d be a huge failure. Looking back on that, I actually don’t think that’s true at all! Since I’ve graduated, I feel like I’ve tried a lot of different areas – and, although I’ve been in this field for a while now, there’s so much more left to learn critically, new problems to solve require different skills. With new technology and new generations entering the workforce, the world is constantly changing, and it would be a bad thing if my job in 5 years, or even 2 years looks like it does today.
One area that I’ve always had keen interest in was psychology. You were asking earlier what might have led me to have an interest in this area .…. I think there were many reasons. Looking back at my early experiences: I was a competitive figure skater growing up, and saw first-hand the connection between psychology and performance. I was also fortunate to experience other cultures while traveling in Asia and Europe, which sparked a real curiosity for why the world thinks, and acts the way it does. On a personal level, in school, I remember being intensely curious about why the world is the way it is as I formed my identity, and what I was passionate about. It was enlightening to learn about human behaviour when I got to university…. I remember being super excited when Malcolm Gladwell came to speak at the Sauder School of Business – I was a big fan of social psychology at the time.
This interest in psychology led me to my first role after business school in business development in the Market Research industry – a field whose core is understanding human behaviour. I was really hungry to learn, although if you know me, I’m highly introverted and probably the last person you’d expect to be doing this role. I initially thought this wasn’t an area I wanted to pursue long term. However, I think being part of a large-scale, global sales team was a useful learning experience, and a great way to kick-start my career. Also, I learned lots of the skills I still use today. Plot twist – I ended up liking many aspects of sales. I feel it’s a profession where there’s a really strong correlation between your work ethic, and the outcome at the end of the day. There are clear, tangible measures of success: closing a deal. I also think it’s a lot about relationships, listening, and problem-solving with people – That’s something that’s really rewarding.
Ultimately, I wanted to do something entrepreneurial, and more directly creative. I wanted to grow my skill set outside of Sales, into other areas that I had a taste of in business school. This ended up leading me to the Healthcare industry. I ended up joining a small, but growing team that I was really impressed with after my initial discussion with their founders.n They were improving access to healthcare products and services for chronically ill patients. When I first joined, I was a ‘growth hacker’ at the company. At the time, that was a term that was quite prevalent on the marketing scene (which I think has changed in recent years- I think now it’s just part of modern day marketing). At the time, I was really interested in how the term involved making marketing and sales part of the product itself, rather than a separate function. There are some great stories about growth hacking you can find online from Airbnb, and Dropbox that I encourage anyone to check out!
My role at first involved identifying marketing experiments we could use on our platforms. However,I also begin to be involved on the business development side given my background – and because I was really making an impact on that side of the business, my role shifted to take on more responsibility there, which ultimately was where I felt there was lots of opportunity to be involved in developing new processes, and drive growth.
After a year of being with the company I was promoted to Head of Growth and Client Strategy. I was involved in many areas including enterprise sales; partnerships with other technology companies or consumer solutions, bringing new products to market, and planning market entry for international expansion.
I am really grateful for the mentorship I received from the company’s founder’s – because of them, I was able to get involved in different areas of the business. I really admire their commitment to making a positive impact in society and giving back, and how they fostered an inclusive, egoless culture.
M: What was next, and how did you end up at Ayogo?
J: Fast forward to 2020 – I’d learned lots, our team had won many awards including being on the Canadian Business Growth 500 list, and I had my first experience on a company’s leadership team, and working in a highly cross-functional environment. When COVID began, it was a season for me where I questioned many aspects of my life. I eventually decided that I need to recalibrate, and speak with people in different fields. In 2021, this led me to Ayogo.
I was really struck by a team that was dedicated to doing the work of their lives at Ayogo. The team was made up of multidisciplinary subject matter experts – including physicians, behavioural scientists, service designers, and engineers – working together to produce something bigger than the sum of its parts, and this sounded like the kind of environment that I’d learn lots from.
One thing that intrigued me about the company was how it blends psychology, and ‘what it means to be human’ – areas I’ve always had an interest in – with healthcare. A second is Ayogo’s commitment to human flourishing – I liked how the team was committed to change the world through transformative approaches, and technology – importantly, in a way that has a positive impact on society. Ayogo’s product design team has been a particularly inspiring place to work, as it brings together many people with what might seem like unconventional backgrounds into a whole that’s greater than the sum of the parts. It turns out that speaking with people, learning what motivates them, frustrates them, or creates value for them is a very useful skill to bring to a design team! I’ve learned a great deal working with colleagues like (Director of Product Design) Rabia Ahmed, and inspiring customers like Dana Emanuel (of New Moms), and I really enjoy watching my work make a difference in the “real world,” so to speak. I’m having a lot of fun, too.
Connect with Jessica here