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In conversation with: Steph Lenz, our latest Agile Collective member

Congratulations to our latest Agile Collective member Steph! 

Steph joined the Agile Collective team in February 2022 as a UX and Visual Designer. She started her journey with probationary membership to get a feel of the roles and responsibilities that come with the title and now after being with us for just over a year she has transitioned into a full fledged member! Welcome aboard Steph. 

In conversation with Rae (fellow designer) Steph touches on what she’s enjoyed most about her time with Agile Collective, what influenced her decision towards membership and what she wanted to be growing up.


Firstly, congratulations on completing your probation for membership! It’s very exciting. I understand that at the time of appointment as a member of Agile Collective, you will have been with the company for a full year, what are some of the highlights of being part of our team?

Steph: Thank you! In terms of personal highlights, it’s been about getting to know the team and spending time with them.

"My favourite thing that’s happened in the last year was flying to the UK and staying in Devon and we got to spend quality offline time together, and cook some delicious food - it all felt very wholesome."

It was nice to step away from a computer screen and spend time face-to-face. I was really grateful for the opportunity to connect with the team as a whole, and make time for meaningful conversations that weren’t only about business strategy or projects.

image of the Selgars Mill sign on a grassy lawn with the mill in the background
Some of the Agile Collective team exploring the vegetable garden

You mention on your team page that you’ve been practising your Tagalog and Swedish, how has this been going?

Steph: In terms of my Tagalog, I haven’t been practising much and since I live in Sweden, Swedish has become my priority so Tagalog has been put in the backseat for now (sorry Mum!). It can be tricky to live in Sweden and work an English-speaking job 5 days a week - it’s hard to find that natural rhythm but thanks to the flexibility of the job, I’ve been able to take my Swedish lessons during the week and rapidly improve. I’m hoping that by next year I can speak in full sentences and have conversations instead of relying on Swenglish, or panicking and resorting to English at the last minute! 

What book are you reading right now?

Steph: I tandem read a lot of books across different genres like fantasy and romance, and one non-fiction book I’m reading is Designing Your Life, a UX design book about life design. It’s a really interesting read which talks about structuring your life using UX design principles to mould your work and personal routines into something that suits who you are as a person and makes you more happy.

What has been the highlight of your year so far? 

Steph: I can’t answer this question without saying I got engaged! At the beginning of the year, my fiancé proposed while we were on vacation in the Philippines after scuba diving together in beautiful Anilao, a dive spot south of Manila. We’re planning to get married in 2025, and I can sense my UX brain kicking in when I think about how I want to design my wedding - but I don’t think I’m in “bridezilla” territory (yet)! 

As for professional highlights, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when or how it happened but a highlight has definitely been transitioning into the UX world. I come from a background of media and print design and it’s been a really supportive environment for me to skill up in web and UX design. I’ve got a really great team behind me and everyone’s really supportive, so it’s been a really safe space to not only learn new skills, but also implement them in my day-to-day!

Can I just point out that I absolutely love that, I’ve been so present in your journey and it’s been so nice to witness one anothers development. And Devon was a highlight for me too! We’re already planning the away trip for summer 2023. 

During your time with AC, how have you felt working for a company that implements Sociocratic practices?

Steph: I feel really at home with it. Coming from previous hierarchical workplaces, I’ve found that I didn’t feel as energised in my work as I do in this space. Now that I’ve been enlightened to the cooperative world, it just feels like a much better fit for my personality and the way I like to work and communicate with others - and I love that. We’re all on equal footing, we listen to and respect each other, and we’ve cultivated a safe space to share our concerns without the fear of overstepping or misjudgement. When I first joined it was quite unusual to get used to, but I feel a lot more confident now than I did years ago about speaking up and believing that my opinions are valued and matter to people.

"It’s very empowering. Having an environment that encourages you to step up and speak out helps me change my behaviour and attitude towards my work."

Learn more about Sociocracy

Yes, I completely agree. It’s a very healthy and inclusive space, which brings me to my next question. Moving on to the membership track with Agile Collective was entirely voluntary, what encouraged you to take on this responsibility?

Steph: I felt like it was the right step for my career, for my professional development, and fostering a new level of responsibility. Transitioning from a non-member to member felt like it gave me a kick to step up a bit more, my motivation has been recharged and I’m a lot more aware of how I’d like to spend my time with the company. I also love the bragging rights and being able to say “I’m a member of a worker cooperative” to my friends and family!

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

Steph: I initially considered entering the fine arts world and wanted to be a painter, it was my favourite subject at school for a long time until I had a difficult art teacher that made me feel I wasn’t good enough. I then considered becoming a social worker, but I was encouraged by a school counsellor to look into the Development sector and become an NGO worker, a job that aligned with my values. I ended up studying Economics and Development Studies at UEA. During my studies, I started to work part-time as a graphic designer and it reignited my passion for art and design. I found a lot of satisfaction in taking what someone had imagined in their heads and translating it into a digital art piece, so I focused my Masters on media studies and somehow (thankfully) ended up where I am now.

"I wanted to be someone that helped the world in a positive way and in some ways, even though I'm not a social worker or an NGO worker, I feel like I’m achieving that by being part of this cooperative and working with purpose-driven organisations."