Meet the Team: Mallory O’Connor

As Habanero returns to the Awards for the fifth year, organizing committee member and event co-founder Mallory O’Connor reflects on the evolution of the VanUX Awards.

When reflecting on how the Vancouver User Experience Awards came to be, Mallory O’Connor chuckles. The tale is one that begins with a VanUE event and a speaker who traveled halfway around the world to be there. The presentation, she explains, was on world-class case studies—some of which, as it turned out, were from Vancouver. This came as no surprise to Mallory and the rest of the VanUE organizing committee. What it unearthed, however, was that while Vancouver’s UX community was incredibly capable, they were far too quiet about it. 

“You don’t have to be in San Francisco or London to do the best work. We knew there were a lot of amazing projects being done in Vancouver, and that was sort of the genesis of the Awards,” Mallory explains. All of the exceptional local work and teams that created it deserved to be celebrated. 

Included in the list of Vancouver companies doing great work is Habanero Consulting—an organization of which Mallory has been a part for 11 years. Before the VanUX Awards, Habanero sponsored VanUE, which is how Mallory (a co-founder of VanUE in 2003) became familiar with the firm. In her 11 years with the company, Mallory has held five different roles—she’s currently Habanero’s Practice Lead for Enterprise Experiences and Innovation—and remains passionate about their culture and the work they do. 

Habanero is a consulting firm focused on supporting organizational culture and transformation, and creating digital solutions that support the way people work.  Whether it’s working with companies like Arc’teryx to re-articulate their purpose and values, delivering intranets and collaboration solutions for the likes of WestJet and Wawanesa, or enterprise websites for YVR Airport, human centred design is at the heart of the work. 

“My role is centres around organizational culture and the transformation of  business,” she explains. Mallory works closely with clients to leverage company values and create great workplace experiences. At Habanero, they have a relentless focus on the human experience, and this culture is baked into everything they do. Their culture is one of learning, sharing, and evolving. 

It should come as no surprise then, that these values bleed into Habanero’s founding support of the VanUX Awards. The Awards she reminisces, have grown a lot in these five years. Mallory characterizes that first year as “bootstrappy.” The event saw UX designers become event planners in an effort to strengthen their community. “It was like throwing a party and not being sure if anyone would show up!” she adds. But the people came. In fact, they sold out. So, the event grew, and it sold out again. Rinse, repeat. Five years later the event continues to grow and continues to sell out. 

Coming together as a community, celebrating the great work being done, and building connections that encourage us to learn from each other. “I really appreciate our local UX community—it’s open, caring, and extraordinarily talented,” says Mallory.