About

A photograph of me at a local co-working space

Hi! I'm Serena.

I believe that thoughtfully creating technology can lead to a more inclusive, equitable and kind world. I've been making and breaking the web since 1999, and have been fully plugged into the technology Matrix ever since.

Nothing makes me happier than finding elegant, beautiful solutions to large and complex problems. That, and good food, good music and good company is what I live for.

A photograph of me and the Rails Girls Wellington crew
The Rails Girls Wellington 2016 crew.

❀ Communities.

In the end, it's people who make our products and people who consume them. Hence, I believe compassion, empathy and community-building are non-negotible skills for working in tech. If we foster good communities, we foster good designers, coders, and leaders.

Day to day I mentor our design interns at work. Outside of my day job and side projects, I enjoy volunteering as an organiser for Rails Girls Wellington, as well as mentoring and coaching at various hackfests and student outreach events, such as Summer of Tech. I've also given a few conference talks! It's super exciting, and I've learned so much from the wonderful people at all of these events.

A photograph of me on stage talking about Design for Security at UXNZ 2017
A photo from my Design for Security talk at UXNZ 2017.

Forever a nerd.

When I'm stressed I like to go through elegant mathematical proofs. I find the certainty and beauty of it calms me like nothing else. In a previous life I was a theoretical physicist/mathematician, trying to understand how we bridge quantum mechanics with general relativity. I had the honour of studying in the beautiful halls of UC Berkeley, and grew enormously as a citizen of the world during my tenure there.

My life in physics taught me a skill I'll never stop using: how to view all knowledge and conceptual models as tools — instruments I can apply to new, unsolved problems.

Other nerdy things I like to indulge in include security, music, reverse-engineering puzzles, world history, architecture, classics, and science fiction shows I'll rewatch again and again inspite of an ever-growing list of the hottest new TV.

Photograph of my speaking at CSSConfAu 2016
Me talking at CSSConfAu in 2016 about a CSS thought experiment.

While most of what I do involves large-scale redesigns or reconciliation projects (i.e., creating design systems) across entire product suites, my everyday involves obsessing over product strategy, crafting narratives, data quality, and whatever is needed to get practical, positive change.

Apart from all of this I run a casual podcast with my friend, work on silly music projects and am getting back into reading Real Books! (Please hold me to this.)

I'm currently based in beautiful, tumultuous, tiny New Zealand.

Thanks for stopping by.

Photograph of me strolling outside the Met

Highlight reel:

2017

  • 🎀  Hosted a podcast (and we're on the radio too!) πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯
  • β›°  Did the Tongariro Crossing
  • ✨  Soaked up inspiration at Webstock
  • πŸ’ͺ🏽  Organised Rails Girls Wellington alongside an incredible crew
  • πŸ€Όβ€β™€οΈ  Started Judo
  • πŸ“½  Directed a film crew for 48HOURS
  • πŸ’πŸ»  Spoke at UXNZ πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯
  • πŸ’Ž  Learned about programming with beautiful humans at KiwiRuby
  • ⚑️  Started the first ever Rails Girls SUPERCHARGED⚑️
  • 🐝  Spoke at BSides Wellington πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯

2016

  • πŸ’πŸ»  Spoke at Refactor (transcript here) πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯
  • ✨  Soaked up inspiration at Webstock
  • πŸ’―  Had endless fascinating conversations at KiwiFoo
  • πŸŽͺ  Chilled out at Railscamp
  • πŸ™†πŸΎ  Met incredible women at WWGSD
  • 🎀  Started a podcast! πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯
  • πŸ’ͺ🏽  Organised Rails Girls Wellington alongside an incredible crew
  • πŸ†  Awarded a Chevron at BNZ πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯
  • ✈️  Travelled to China
  • πŸ‘½  Confirmed my paranoia at Kiwicon X
  • πŸ’πŸ»  Spoke at CSSConfAu πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯
  • πŸ€–  Visited the future at Future Assembly
  • πŸ‘€  Learned about Project Management from Jeff Patton

2015

  • πŸ’―  Expanded my brain at KiwiFoo
  • ✨  Soaked up inspiration at Webstock
  • πŸ“½  Directed a film crew for 48HOURS
  • ⚑️  Released new BNZ website redesign πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯
  • πŸŽͺ  Designed t-shirts, nametags and sponsorship forms for Railscamp
  • πŸ†  Received the Goodwithpixels award at BNZ Digital πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯
  • πŸ‘πŸΌ  Mentored young designers at the Summer of Tech Hackfest
  • ⚑️  Released redesigned Store & ATM locator for BNZ πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯
  • πŸ’ƒπŸ»  Talked HVNGRY with Soraya Darabi
  • πŸ’»  Completed the Kiwicon Badge Challenge

2014

  • πŸ’ͺ🏽  Founded, built and ran HVNGRY Magazine πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯
  • πŸ’πŸ»  Pitched HVNGRY to Webstock's Startup Alley
  • πŸ“½  Directed a film crew for 48HOURS
  • πŸ€–  Received a scholarship to attend Google I/O πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯
  • πŸ’»  Filled my brain to the brim at KiwiPyCon
  • 🎨  Bathed in art at Semi-Permenant
  • πŸ‘πŸΌ  Mentored at a local Swift programming workshop
  • πŸ’πŸ»  Spoke at National Digital Forum (video here) πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯
  • πŸ’»  Played with RTL-SDRs at Kiwicon

2013

  • πŸ™‹πŸ»  Founded ATOM, Otago University's Science Students Association
  • πŸ“½  Made it to City Finals for 48HOURS
  • πŸ€“  Judged a local science fair
  • πŸŽ“  Graduated with First Class Honours in Physics πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯