Meet Sol Sierra,
Sol Sierra wants to know all about you
While she was in college, Sol Sierra was working as a QA tester across the hall from a team of UX developers who looked like they were having a lot more fun.
“There were storyboards and post-it notes everywhere with all these design ideas on them and I was thinking ‘this is so cool,’” she said.
When an opportunity opened up on the team, Sol offered to make them coffee to get her foot in the door. They declined her coffee offer but let her join their team, providing an invaluable experience to learn the ins and outs of UX design.
Since joining AlixPartners in 2016, Sol has developed customized applications that streamline workflow and enhance the firm’s client service.
The work aligns well with Sol’s personality, which she describes as focused on putting other people first.
“I am trying to make all experiences better for everyone around me,” she said.
Good UX design, Sol says, requires a deep understanding of the user and their needs. The challenge is to help a user understand how a tool is supposed to work. Users can be reluctant to change even if it will make their life better.
“Sol is systematic and meticulous,” said Emile Succar, a member of AlixPartners’ Enterprise Improvement team. “She’s a user-focused designer with the ability to listen intently and think deeply about any particular problem.”
Sol’s openness to understand a person fully has made her a confidante and advisor to her colleagues in AlixPartners’ Buenos Aires office, where she serves as local champion of the firm’s PrideMatters ERG (employee resource group).
“She is incredibly empathetic,” said Denise Lopez Marquina, a member of the firm’s Digital team. “She is always willing to listen to anybody who is having a bad day and has the perfect combination of great listening skills and trustworthiness.”
Sol decided to become an ally when a colleague at a previous job was worried about coming out and not being accepted by her coworkers. “I want to live in a world where respect and acceptance is the norm, not something that we hope to receive,” Sol said. “In that moment, I also realized that change comes from small actions.”
Alongside her UX work, Sol plans activities that spark conversations on issues important to the LGBTQ community. Recently, she organized a movie night and discussion of the documentary A Circle of Books, which chronicles an LA bookstore that became a hub for the local gay community.
The relationship between the unassuming, conservative couple that ran the store and their gay son struck a chord with the group, which spurred Sol to begin developing programs and resources for parents on how to support LGBTQ children.
Another topic that has Sol’s wheels turning is the movement to adopt gender-neutral language in Argentina and other Spanish-speaking countries.
Argentina has been called an exemplary country for providing gender-equality rights by the World Health Organization, but the debate surrounding the adoption of gender-neutral language has been fraught.
“It’s very complicated,” said Sol. “Most people are reluctant to use it.”
Young people in Argentina have been using the gender-neutral form—replacing the masculine “o” or the feminine “a” at the end of words with an “e”—for years. A viral video of a journalist repeatedly correcting a teenager’s use of the form pushed the topic into the mainstream, exposing strong feelings on both sides.
The Royal Academy of Spanish, the preeminent authority on the Spanish language, called the change “unnecessary and artificial.”
“I love linguistics, so I can understand where they’re coming from, but we already use words that aren’t accepted by the Royal Academy of Spanish,” said Sol.
Sol, alongside other PrideMatters members, has been part of the working group to develop an in-house gender-neutral language guide for the firm which covers all the countries in which our people live and work.
Advocates argue that widespread adoption could help reduce gender bias. For example, a 2019 study by researchers from Washington University in St. Louis and UCLA found that the adoption of inclusive language results in more favorable views toward women and LGBTQ individuals.
“I feel like at some point we will make that shift, but it may take a long time,” she said.
As she learned through UX design and her work with PrideMatters, Sol understands that compassion and an openness to diverse points of view will be necessary to enact change.