Five questions with Bridgeable’s new CEO, Susan Bartlett

"Five questions with …" is our chance to get to know our alumni a little better. We're kicking off our first installment with Susan, who explains why we created the Bridgeable Alumni Association.

Why is Bridgeable creating an alumni association?

If you ask people what they like best about Bridgeable, the answer is, invariably, “the people.” The people who work here and who have worked here are such a delightful collection of smart, interesting, kind humans. It just seems natural to have a way to help all those people stay connected and follow each other’s lives and careers.

How did you come to choose service design as a career, and what has kept you engaged in it?

I came to service design by accident. I had some experience with aspects of design (software design, business design), but it wasn’t part of any kind of career goal. I was mainly looking for opportunities to learn and grow. I’ve stayed in service design because the problems are challenging and meaningful, and the toolset is ever-evolving. 

What’s your favourite Bridgeable memory?

Too many to pick just one. The time we commandeered a limo to take us to karaoke in California; finishing deliverables into the small hours of the morning in the old Mowat Street office; road trips to sketchy small-town hotels for oncology co-design sessions; getting ticketed for jet-skiing without a boating license at summer camp; sourcing and disposing of giant foam core boards throughout the continental United States; serenading the holiday party attendees with a Beach Boys remix; somehow getting paid to spend two days doing ethnography of surfing in Santa Cruz, without having to produce any deliverables.

What qualities do you look for and appreciate in the people you work with and hire?

A sense of humour, a fearlessness in tackling uncharted territory, a curiosity to learn new things, an ability to push things to completion and get them out into the world. And a healthy tolerance for profanity.

With two young children and a new position as CEO, how do you manage your work/life balance?

I have a really Byzantine to-do system that keeps me on top of life things, and I use it faithfully. I have a husband who is more than an equal co-parent—I would say he carries more of the childcare burden than I do, and he completely owns all the tasks related to feeding the family. I have a lot of paid help of various kinds. And even so, there are days when it all seems to come crashing down. But I try to be gentle with myself when that happens and just try again the next day.

We’re looking for alumni to feature in future installments of “Five questions with …”! Please get in touch if you’re interested in taking part.

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