When Roya Ramezani was 11, she was convinced she wanted to attend music school. She studied music theory for nearly a year before she could make the cut. It was only when she went to enroll in the program that her parents realized that their daughter would not be learning any math. “Long story short, I didn’t go to music school,” Ramezani laughs. “It’s kind of what I consumed from my parents … that I could always be a musician on the side, that art could be your hobby.”
Ramezani eventually moved with her family from their native Iran to Canada, where she pursued studies in physics and computer science at Toronto’s York University, all the while believing that art and science could run parallel to each other but never intersect. Then she made a friend who was studying design, and Ramezani realized that there was a way to marry the two. She promptly enrolled in interaction design, a burgeoning discipline that focuses on design solutions as viewed through the human, end-user lens. If you find an app on your phone that’s really simple to use, for example, you can thank an interaction designer.
Visual thinkers envision. Their mind is able to illustrate the possibilities, and I think it came for me from reading books.
“I really like problem-solving, and I realized that most of the time I knew the exact outcome of the problem, and I was going down the path trying to solve these problems that physicians and mathematicians had already solved before,” she says of her work in the sciences, “whereas in design, you deal with problems that no one has solved. You can come up with a billion results, and no one can say, ‘Oh, this particular answer is the right answer.’”
After completing graduate study at the School of Visual Arts in New York, Ramezani, now 27, lives in San Francisco and works at JPMorgan Chase as part of the branch innovation team. The self-described visual thinker explains her job this way: “I work in the intersection of technology, digital experiences and physical space.”
Ramezani was born in northern Iran and moved to Tehran with her family when she was 8. She describes an idyllic childhood, with summers spent in the small town of Bayjan. “My siblings and I grew up climbing trees, walking across water streams, picking butterflies and wild flowers and planting trees,” Ramezani says. “Every week we would get new magazines and books, and that was our media to consume.” She attributes…