Jessica Reps


UX/UI Lead - Europe at Sezzle

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“My mum once said: ‘It’s dangerous with you child, if you have something in your mind that you really want, there is absolutely no question that you will get there.’” 

Berlin, Germany — For experienced German UX pro, Jessica Reps, her journey has been fueled by a deep passion for analysis, introspection, and discovery. Her seemingly boundless curiosity is rivaled by her deep empathy for, and delight in, encouraging and coaching others. She uses her life experience to unlock the keys to success not only for herself, but also for those around her. Her aptitude for social inquiry has led to countless innovations in the strengthening of workplace culture. In Jessica’s approach, kindness is a science.

Helping people all over the world to leave their comfort zones by studying their motivations on a deep, psychological level is something she enjoys. Strongly driven by curiosity paired with a passion for human behavior, she is used to thinking in simple, yet sustainable solutions while making use of minimal resources. She has 7 years of experience in mixed-method UX, as well as scientific research, and more than 10 years of freelance experience with customers in the fitness industry.

As an expert in emotion and motivation theory, Jessica considers herself a professional at being curious and passionate about new people and new experiences. That’s one of the many reasons why she invests most of her spare time and money into traveling and learning new things and challenges herself to face her fears a little each day.

In Jessica’s eyes, UX Research is more than a job – It’s an attitude, even a lifestyle. It enables her to connect with people from different cultures, to live in their realities for a while and learn in the most natural way. It’s more than simply collecting insights: It’s about discovering what keeps mankind together at the core. She believes that empathy should be a habit, and she would love to make this a reality for everyone by sharing her insights with others. Sezzle was lucky enough to sit down with her to share some of them today…

She credits her family, first and foremost, as her primary source of inspiration and support.

I always got so much support for as long as I can remember. Every stupid idea that I had – they just made it happen. No matter if I wanted to do this weird sport or leave the nest to go study far away from home. If I wanted to move to another country or create my own business. No idea was ever too far off. There was always support, and I could reach for everything I could ever dream of. 

We lived in a very basic environment, and we never had much. But we always had each other and that’s something invaluable when you have big dreams. And the more I grow into a leader, the more important this relationship becomes, because you need that safety network and reality check to stay healthy and grounded. 

She has learned that “having an edge” serves you, in business and in life.

The best advice I’ve ever received and my favorite to give is “to have an edge”. That It’s ok and even helpful to not be everyone’s darling. Nothing is more boring than someone who is perfect. And this was really relevant advice for me, because back in the day I had some people-pleaser tendencies. But I also worked in Branding and UX and told others about how important it is that a brand has an edge to keep it attractive. Funny enough, I totally failed to see the parallels between my day-to-day work and my personal development. My words in business didn’t match my actions in my personal life. And that was some kind of eureka moment, because I strongly believe in integrity and therefore felt a little embarrassed that I violated my own standard. So I had some homework to do. I worked on my values, the negotiable ones and the ones that are set in stone. This helped me to say “no” to the right things, and “yes” to the challenges I’m willing to suffer for.”

Don’t be a crab!

Never commit to crab mentality. If you raise the standards people sometimes react dismissively or indifferent. I liked the comparison with mexican crabs a lot, who try to pull each other back into the boiling water in case some crab manages to escape. This metaphor is helpful in understanding people relations may it be at work or at home. It was important to learn that when people try to make you feel bad for your or your team’s achievements, this has less to do with you, but a lot more with a projection of their own emotions about the situation (sadness, disappointment, jealousy, etc). If you understand this, it’s easy to build empathy and find a solution that helps everyone being involved as well as the business.

She believes each moment has the capacity to be pivotal, as long as we are open to them.

There have been so many pivotal moments in my life that I don’t call them out anymore.

I think such moments are fairly natural if you stay open to opportunities and committed to failure. However, there was a period in my life where I had to face the rather ugly side of human nature. Where I learned about dark personality traits, projection, and the emotional abuse that stems from it. We often grow up believing that we are only good humans when we agree with everything, and when we always believe in the good nature of people. Unfortunately that’s sometimes not the case and it makes people and businesses extremely vulnerable. At that time, I learned that you’re not a bad person just because you are cautious and don’t see good everywhere. Instead, it shows that you are realistic and educated and that you dare to face the real problem in order to find a good solution. This is also one of the reasons I’m part of the Sezzle Diversity, Equality & Inclusion resource group (DEI). I feel a personal sense of responsibility to share my knowledge in this area to facilitate the implementation of measures at Sezzle. I express how grateful I am to be part of such a strong company culture. 

What are you passionate about outside of work?

I care about a lot. Sometimes I wish I would be less passionate about so many things, because then I would probably get more sleep! But in general, I’m deeply interested in all things psychology and human nature. I’m some kind of a people nerd, I would say. I read studies and articles every day – roughly 150 sites a day. Often it’s part of my job and often I’m just curious. I can’t concentrate well if there is a question in my head that I don’t have a solution for. And because this is time-consuming, I got really efficient over time. I’m combining reading with the time I spend on my treadmill at home, because otherwise it would be boring and this way I stay motivated to keep up enough physical activity during lockdown. Besides that, I’m overly passionate about all things beauty and creative, ranging from photography to design, painting, music, acting and dancing. My home office room is now my creativity island where I store colors, canvases, handcrafts materials, a sewing machine, fabrics, microphones and instruments. One of the best investments I’ve ever made!

Any fun facts about you and your journey that you’d like to share?

I have the worst eyes on the planet, and sometimes I find it very amusing that I ended up in design, taking care of pixel-perfect work. I have an innate defect of my optic nerve and therefore only 30% of power on one eye. For that reason, I was very clumsy throughout my entire life. But ultimately it helps me a lot in UX, because it forces me to keep designs clean and intuitive. 

Back in my teenage years, I participated in dancing competitions. My biggest success was to win the German Nationals in the soloist category. There are  still funny pictures and videos on Google that I feel a little shy about.

What is your favorite thing about working at Sezzle?

In the EU team we often have an idea today, we build it tomorrow, and we ship it the day after. It’s a very special situation that I’m super grateful for. We have a lot of freedom to experiment, but we also have a massive responsibility. It feels a little like being on board an Airbus A380. When it starts, you are rolling forever on the runway and you think, “No, this machine will never leave the ground, it’s so heavy and big” – but then suddenly it takes off. And ultimately, it’s extremely rewarding to know that you contributed to this little miracle with your work. A key ingredient for this is the great leadership I receive from my manager. At Sezzle, you are always surrounded by unicorns. Everyone has a special expertise, but at the same time, almost everyone is a generalist, too. This creates valuable synergies and makes processes fairly fast.

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