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1 March 2023

In the Spotlight | Athif Shafiq


What led to you becoming a Hippo?

When I graduated with a TV & Media degree in 2015, I always liked the idea of working in a creative office alongside other professionals but only really managed to get work experience after graduating. I ended up working as a part-time freelance videographer and animator alongside a part-time job for seven years, which ended up being really tough!

When the lockdown happened, and everyone had some free time on their hands, I saw it as an opportunity to learn a new discipline whilst working at my part-time job working a 4 am shift in Sainsbury’s. I underwent a professional diploma in UX design from the UX design institute remotely during the pandemic, which I finished a year later while working for the DWP.

That’s when I discovered the Hippo Academy, an eight-week training course where we learned about Agile and user-centred design (UCD) in a supportive and collaborative environment. It was the perfect opportunity for me to test my skills and find new and creative ways to improve services and websites.

What does your day-to-day involve?

No two days are the same, and that’s what keeps things exciting and fresh. When I’m on a project, I’ll usually start with a stand-up in the morning to align with my team and set goals for the day ahead.

From there, my day can take me in any number of directions. Sometimes, I work on creating compelling journey maps or helping out a researcher or even using my existing video editing skills to create a video for a client.

Occasionally I get asked to travel to another office in the country which is really exciting as well, as it gives me more opportunities to meet new people and visit new places.

What are you most proud of since working here?

One of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had at Hippo was working on a pro bono project for a small company called Iternal. They provide a unique service that helps users record their memories and pass them on to their loved ones after they pass away. What started as a small task turned into a full-fledged project, and I’m so glad we treated it as such.

As with any project, the team working on it was constantly evolving. Hippos came and went, and we worked closely with the team at Iternal to understand their needs and goals. The outcome was a full discovery that not only met their needs but exceeded their expectations. It was truly uplifting to see the change in the client’s attitude towards user-centred design and the impact it had on their business.

Throughout the project, I learned a great deal about collaboration and working with multiple disciplines. We worked closely with private sector stakeholders and found creative solutions to work within a tight budget. It was a challenging project, but it was also one of the most fulfilling experiences of my career to date.

What do you like best about Hippo?

The people in Hippo are amazing! They’re always very helpful and very intelligent! The attention to detail for their employees is extremely impressive, and there are always ways in which they help you improve in several ways. 

My manager is also fantastic; she is always there to support me, even when I feel isolated working at home in Newcastle. Whenever I go into the office in Leeds, the people are always willing to help, and we even get a discount off the coffee shop downstairs!

And finally, what’s your favourite way to eat a potato?

That’s a hard one. I love them in a roast in a steak dinner with gravy and mint yoghurt! I also love them as chips as well so I guess it’s hard for me to decide, especially sweet potato fries!

Are you interested in joining Athif in the Hippo herd?


An image of a Hippo with the words Join the Hippo Herd