Consultant Spotlight: Barbara Tai

Meet Barbara Tai, an enthusiastic, artistic professional and NetEffects’ Consultant.

This systems designer is amassing an impressive portfolio in web design and development, not only because her clients expect it of her, but because she expects it of herself.

During the past 15 years, Barbara Tai has successfully blended her artist’s eye with software expertise to design and develop compelling websites and online promotions. The combination of Barb’s fine arts degrees and computer skills are ideal for employment in digital media, a career Barb pursues with enthusiasm and professionalism.

The outstanding quality of her work not only brings praise from her clients; it also continues to bring her new opportunities, such as the chance to join NetEffects. “I didn’t know anything about NetEffects until the recruiter called me out of the blue,” she said.

Her decision to join NetEffects was based largely on the professional coaching she received during the recruitment and business development interactions with NetEffects’ staff.

“I learned great interviewing techniques from Scott Baldwin,” praised Barb. “He taught me really well and prepared me to go on the interview. We got the job.”

Teamwork, Support, and a Shorter Commute

As a senior UI designer for a major Chicago client, Barb couldn’t be happier with NetEffects – although she was skeptical at first. “I was worried about working here in Chicago with all my support so far away, but actually it is no problem at all.” The distance between St. Louis and Chicago has virtually disappeared.

She praised the St. Louis staff for their instant responses to any queries, and for the feeling of being valued as a member of a great team. “NetEffects is the best staffing firm I have ever worked with. They really care about their people. I would recommend NetEffects to any IT professional,” she praised.

An unexpected benefit of signing on with NetEffects is the colossal reduction in commuting time. She’s now 10 minutes from her home — 15 on a bad day. “It was taking me hours to get back and forth,” she explained. “It was exhausting. I would get home too tired to do anything.”

Barb moved to Chicago from Hong Kong in the 1990s to study art at Northern Illinois University. She holds two NIU degrees – a bachelor’s in fine art and a master of arts – and is only a few month’s away from earning a master of liberal arts degree from the University of Chicago.

Her recent accomplishments include designing UI and front-end graphics for and for a major retailer, interactive game screens and business-to-business web pages, and re-designing websites for iconic brands such as TRESemme, Mrs. Dash and St. Ives.

She is proficient in software tools and technologies used for graphics, web and site administration, among them CS3, HTML, DHTML, XML, CSS, Visual Interdev, Flash Professional, ActionScript, and JavaScript. She also passed the usability test offered by HFI and became a CUA (Certified Usability Analyst) last May.

One appealing aspect of her current assignment is the opportunity to create the look and feel of the front-end design for a new interactive website. “For this particular project, I am doing less technical coding and more graphic design. I like to get my creative juices going,” she enthused.

An Artist and Traveler

No longer drained by the grueling commute, Barb looks forward to resuming her favorite pastime — drawing. “It’s wonderful to just draw,” she stated with joy in her voice.

Another item on her “TO DO” list is travel. She ventured out to Alaska a couple years ago, and dog sledding was the highlight of the trip. Her last international jaunt was to Greece, where the ancient sites in Athens caused her to reflect on what daily life was like 5,000 years ago.

“I can’t imagine how different it was to live then,” she commented. “How could I have survived without my computer?” She admits to being one with her technology. “I’m pretty much 24/7, but I could be unplugged for one day – if I had to.” (Somehow we doubt that.)

She does sign off for trips to Chicago museums, free outdoor concerts and live theater. Reading and working Sudoku puzzles are off-line activities she enjoys at home, where the cat sits purring nearby. “I like to chill after working really long hours,” she explained. “Sometimes the first thing I want to do when I get home is … nothing.”

Barbara returns to Hong Kong for family visits every couple of years, and chats often via e-mail with her siblings. Her mother, on the other hand, still requires a phone call.