Claire Lempke, KW2​

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Claire Lempke, senior user experience designer, KW2​.

What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?

The most challenging aspect of my job is the pressure of making big decisions on a client’s behalf within a timeline and budget constraint. I want to give the best possible recommendation — something that will meet all of their needs, be straightforward to their customers, and that can be flexible and grow as their organization or business changes. It can be a lot of pressure to be the one making those high-stakes decisions. I deal with it by being honest with clients and with my team and saying, “Look, sometimes (most of the time) my first idea is not my best idea.” We work around that and stay open to better ideas coming farther along in a project.

The most rewarding aspect of my job is definitely the clients I get to work with. While I do work with some amazing folks in business services and education, a majority of my projects are in the public health sector. I know I’m contributing to work that’s making Wisconsinites healthier, safer, and more knowledgeable. That’s something I couldn’t do on my own, and being surrounded by this team and by our incredibly smart clients is an amazing opportunity.

Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?

I’m going to gush about my cousin for a minute because her business journey has been such an inspiration to me. She was and is a fine artist, and then went into graphic design professionally where she consistently pursued better positions, advocated for herself and her work, and ended up doing some really prominent work. When a talent agency helped her get some great gigs, she realized she could make a huge difference in that space, so she went into mentoring and coaching graphic designers to help them get great gigs. She is fantastic at seeing the talent in others and connecting dots to people, and she’s also so giving as a mentor that she has helped pluck a lot of stars out of mediocre jobs and inspired them to do more.

Now, she found her calling and owns and runs her own Ayurvedic coaching company. Her business is thriving because of the things I’ll mention below. She had this driving passion, so she quit her 9-to-5 job and started her own business. She’s had to learn social media, email marketing, and webinars and podcasting to market herself, and it has taken off so quickly.

The things I admire most about her are:

  1. She vocalizes and then takes the time she needs to recharge, so that when she’s mentoring or coaching someone she’s 100 percent present.
  2. She followed her (well-informed) heart along a few career changes that have made her happier along the way.
  3. She took a road less traveled because it was right for her.

What has been the high point of your career so far?

Last year, I got to give a Google Analytics presentation to a group if marketers and IT professionals at my alma mater. A curiosity about Google Analytics is what first got me into my current career path, so being able to teach others how to use it to make marketing decisions was a really fulfilling moment for me.

Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

“Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable.” I think young people in every field, but particularly young women, have to toe this line between coming across as overly confident or not confident enough. I would tell my younger self to be more vulnerable and open about what I don’t know, because people who have been in the business longer can see that anyway. When they know you’re open to critique and willing to learn, they’ll trust you a lot more when you actually are confident about something.

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What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?

I lived in Dane County from 2007 to 2016, moved away for a year, and decided to come back. The area has such a great talent pool while still maintaining that Midwestern, down-to-earth feel. You can ask to get coffee with someone you really admire professionally, find a mentor, and partner with people on projects. It’s not cutthroat here like it can get in larger cities. Instead of worrying about the “competition,” we’re all busy having each other’s backs and building one another up, which produces better work and more talent in the end.

Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?

I’m partially ambidextrous. I can write legibly with my non-dominant hand, which I can imagine coming in quite handy at some point. And while I’m left-handed, I throw a football and baseball with my right hand, and I can throw a Frisbee with either. I also golf and bowl equally well (or poorly) with both!

What are your guilty pleasures?

I’m on the go most evenings, so one of my favorite guilty pleasures is sitting on the couch at the end of the weekend, my dog next to me, with my feet soaking in a footbath. It’s simple, but it forces me to slow down and relax for a bit, which is something I definitely need to rejuvenate me for the responsibilities of the week ahead.

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