Month: September 2022

My Rayn Journey

  Aamnah Mansoor

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my rayn journey.

When I first applied for the position of Content Writer at Rayn, I questioned whether I would be considered a viable candidate for the job. The main reason behind this thought was the fact that I am based out of Karachi, while the headquarters are located in Islamabad. Turns out there was no problem, to begin with!

During my interview process, I learnt that Rayn’s employee network is spread across many cities in Pakistan. I found out that inclusivity was at the heart of this organization and right off the bat, I just knew that Rayn is not going to be your conventional organisation.

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I just knew that Rayn is not going to be your conventional organisation.

Joining Rayn as a fresh graduate felt like being the kid who joins a new school in the middle of the term. Everybody knows everybody, there is an established system that you are unaware of and bottomline, you practically have no idea what to expect.

One of the many things that came as a pleasant surprise was the ease with which I settled in so quickly. It’s a bit hard to believe but I started yearning for more in-person time with my colleagues just within a week of joining the company!

So what were the few factors that made it all happen? Let’s begin with

 

Rayn Welcome

The very first day of my joining I had been welcomed by the entire organisation, personally as well as via the communication channels.

I received such heart-warming, positive and motivating messages from the CEO and my colleagues. Their support made the onboarding process all the more comfortable.

 

Team Welcome

When you step into a remote role, you fear that you might feel disconnected with your team members. Guess what? I was pleasantly surprised yet again.

When your team members welcome you with an exclusive presentation, introduce themselves, elaborate on the work that the department you have joined does, and give you a chance to ask questions freely, you ease into the organisation. The Team Welcome Session also marked the beginning of a friendly and supportive relationship.

 

Weekly Mixer 

The term was new to me but what it entailed surprised me even more. In essence, it is a virtual get together that acts as a breather from work for the employees.

In the Weekly Mixer, Rayn employees – remote and in-office – get to know each other better by sharing anecdotes, achievements and more!

Rayn Journey

It begins with a little round-up of the activities happening in the company. From team dinners to exhausted engineers hard at work – the HR team shares behind-the-scenes of sorts with the employees.

The round-up is followed by a casual interview that takes place with one employee interviewing another.

Fun fact, in one of these sessions I found out that one of my colleagues is a certified yogi!

The Mixer also includes an informative session for all employees where they can learn something about different departments. Whether it be how to take interviews from HR folks, or how to design an app from the Engineering department, this segment is power-packed with learning.

The Weekly Mixer ends with a Q & A session, with the floor open to all. In this segment employees get the opportunity to ask questions from the leadership.

 

Rayn House

Now you might be thinking all this happens in a conventional office space, but that’s the fun part, it all happens in a house!

With the Islamabad office currently under construction, a house is converted into an office space, with dining rooms converted into conference rooms and bedrooms acting as workspaces.

 

Life outside of work exists!

Work is usually defined as a space where personal life has no place. Fortunately, it is quite the opposite at Rayn.

Conversation threads such as ‘Zindagi’ – where employees wish birthdays, give weather updates, and send pictures of scenic views – allow everyone to create a bond that goes above and beyond the word ‘colleague’.

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allow everyone to create a bond that goes above and beyond the word ‘colleague’.

Though it has only been a few months since I joined, it seems as if I have been part of the team longer than I actually have. When collaborating becomes as easy and smooth as it is at Rayn, you get the motivation to do your best. The support and positive energy running through Rayn encourages employees to give back and invest in the organisation as much as they are investing in you!

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The Secret Recipe of Visual Design

  Usman Ibrahim

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Recipe for Visual Design.

Let’s suppose a brand identity is a uniquely delicious dish and you, the designer, are the chef. You’re in Gordon Ramsay’s kitchen and he’s shouting profanities at you telling you to cook up something brilliant.

Unfortunately, there is no secret recipe for your dish. Honestly, you don’t even know the ingredients. All you have is a few sentences of vague directions, a very hungry customer, and a deadline that was yesterday.

How do you cook something that will delight them beyond their wildest dreams? Every chef will build their own process, but there are a few essential steps they will have to take in some shape or form.

 

The Ingredients

“Collecting the ingredients. The most essential building blocks of your masterpiece.”

So you have a fancy kitchen fully stocked with all the tools you need. You are ready to dazzle everyone with what you create today. But you soon realise, to dazzle may be impossible. You may be lucky to even serve something up at the end of the day. The vegetables are rotten, the spices are bland, and none of the ingredients match the recipe. What will you do?

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The story is the most crucial ingredient to any visual design project.

The story is the most crucial ingredient to any visual design project.
Before you set out on a path of infinite possibilities you have to get your story straight.

Graphic design is like writing a story with pictures rather than words. For instance, when you build a brand, you have to understand the ins and outs of the business you are building for. Their product, their values, their origin story.

These elements form the story of a brand. The designer uses semiotics and metaphors to add value to the story and make it shine.

A good example of the necessity of story is from a recent freelance branding project I did. I was creating a brand manual for a fintech company. Before jumping directly into visual design, the client and I spent our due time on defining six descriptors (or attributes) of the brand despite a tight deadline.

These attributes were based on not just the founders’ vision but also on a company-wide survey of each stakeholder’s perception of the brand story.

Throughout the process that followed, we came back to the descriptors at each decision point be it deciding the logo, type, color palette, or pattern. These six words gave us a vocabulary and a benchmark to solidify our conversations on visual language and the feelings we wanted to convey. This helped us build a brand manual that resonated with the client’s vision and story, and could serve as a North Star for all projects to come.

Visual storytelling can take many forms. The process to build out that story can also vary from project to project. Without a good story, your brand, or any visual design will begin to fall apart.

With the intent to tell a story that is true to you and the client, you set yourself on a path to stand out from the crowd. You have the quality ingredients, now it’s just a matter of using them right.

Try, Try Again

“Your first dish is probably going in the trash, and your second. And third. Even the last one you make is eventually going to need some seasoning adjustments.”

So you’ve put hours and hours into your very first dish and the customer found it, in the very best way I can put it, ‘meh’.

When someone doesn’t like what you cook up, It can be an emotional process to receive that feedback, process it, and get back to cooking. Any chef who doesn’t feel that tinge of pain when their best dishes are discarded is either lying or a sociopath. However, with experience, it does get easier.

Designers are no different. It helps to start off with as many ideas as possible. Using the stories and metaphors you define as an anchor, you should come up with an exhaustive list of ideas. Go crazy. No, really. Go. Crazy. Even the ideas that you think will be mocked in feedback (they probably won’t) are important.

A major pitfall for beginner designers is coming up with three ideas and believing all three of them are good. A veteran designer on the other hand, comes up with a hundred and carefully picks three. Rest assured, even those three will need changes, tweaks, and adjustments.

This lesson is something I learnt the hard way in graduate school. I was a self-taught designer before that and imagined myself to be pretty competent.

Feedback from professors in graduate school hit me like a truck. Suddenly, everyone around me was tough to impress. This is when I slowly started to realise that building a quality process was essential to produce quality work consistently.

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building a quality process was essential to produce quality work consistently.

It was a growing process spanning many months, and some proverbial tears, but it was essential to level up as a designer. After those months, my process became much more rigorous and my work improved dramatically.

To sum it up, it is best to accept iterations as part of the process. The earlier and more comfortable you become with iterations, the easier it gets. It is important to gradually silence that tinge of pain that you feel when your ideas are rejected. To focus on the quantity of ideas in brainstorming and leave refinement for later.

In building that habit of rapid iteration, you will learn to refine your designs and eventually make them true to the story you and your client are trying to tell.

Plating Up

“How can a restaurant charge Rs. 5000 for a dish made out of ingredients that barely cost Rs. 1000. One word: Presentation.”

Remember, you are the chef. You can appreciate each ingredient in the recipe separately. However, your audience is not the expert. You synthesise the ingredients and present them in a manner that they can feel viscerally. They can tell whether they like it or not, but can’t quite point out how and why. Some may yet be able to do it well but the fact remains:

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The better you present it, the more appetising it will be.

The better you present it, the more appetising it will be. I am guilty of this often: As designers, we forget that we have a different imagination from our client or audience. During the process, we sometimes are baffled why our best ideas are met with indifference. Often, it’s the presentation that is lacking.

When we present our ideas, for instance logos, it helps to add a little flair to help jog the imagination. What would it look like applied to a billboard, a tote bag, or a credit card? Easy for us to take for granted, right? But it helps the client visualise it. Makes it more real. It helps them anticipate the value of what you are creating for them. It makes an easier sell for you.

This is something I learnt working here at Rayn Studios. Other than building products, I build brands for our different ventures. The feedback process is a bit more friendly, and manageable when the client is internal. However, presentation remains important, especially when showing ideas to non-designers. When I put that extra effort into presenting mockups rather than unrefined ideas, the feedback is that much more positive.

The secret recipe of visual design - Plating Up

Understanding the importance of presentation is something that elevates not just the quality of your work but the sellability of it too. Often, we see a logo we make, and we can imagine everything it will be put on and how it would look. Your audience can’t.

Just spending a bit more time on jogging their imagination will make it all the more likely that the logo option you love, is the one that is picked.
Next time, rather than presenting black and white logos, try putting together a stylescape. Sit back and see the reaction.

Every chef and designer is unique. Throughout your career, you will build and refine your own creative process. There are a million ingredients that can be combined in a myriad of ways. Through building a rigorous process – that is based on a few basic principles – you can ensure that you build compelling designs day in and day out.

Remember, when the power of strong storytelling, exhaustive brainstorming, and stellar presentation combines, creative magic unfolds!

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Ace Your Interview – Interview Tips

  Iqra Nadeem

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Ace your interviews - Interview tips

Nailing an interview is no rocket science but so many of us struggle with it. Let’s face it, interviews can be daunting. While the interviewer is scanning your resume, you anxiously await the onslaught of questions.

In those moments of silence, your brain convinces you that you are being scrutinized more than you actually are. This is known as the ‘Spotlight Effect’ which describes how people believe that others are paying attention to them more than they actually are.

The good news is, anyone can learn the tricks to ace a business interview with the right tools and tips. The first step to acing an interview is to be well prepared.

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The first step to acing an interview is to be well prepared.

Most questions asked can be traced back to a set of ‘root’ questions. Let’s discuss the questions one by one.

 

Hello, nice to meet (or e-meet) you:

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The introductions are all about first impressions.

The introductions are all about first impressions. The interviewer is looking to see whether you can start a conversation and summarise a long chain of events coherently, and what interesting facts you want to share about yourself. The answer needs to be eloquent and succinct as you are expected to know yourself better than anyone else in the world!

Here are some examples:

Tell us about yourself.
Tell us how your day went.
Walk us through your resume.
Tell us something about yourself that is not on your resume.
Why should we hire you?
What fictional character and / or animal are you, and why?

 

Master the art of storytelling:

Do you recall the last time you zoned out of a conversation you had with a friend? Exactly.

People love sharing stories but very few understand the art of storytelling. The goal is to keep your interviewer engaged when telling a story and not get lost in the details.

Master the art of story telling - Rayn

One way to do this is by using the STAR (because you are a star!) approach to interviewing. A breakdown of the STAR method is:

Situation: Set the context and highlight key details of the situation
Task: Explain the task, your role and your responsibility in that situation
Action: Identify the key steps you took to address the situation
Result: List the outcomes that came about as a result of the action you took

In case you are wondering, here are some examples of openings used by interviewers to ask this type of question:

Tell us about a time when you…
When was the last time you…
Can you describe a time when…
Have you ever experienced a situation where…

 

Be a soldier:

Interviewers will now take the interview one step further to get to know you better.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
Tell us about a time you demonstrated teamwork or leadership / made a tough decision / negotiated with someone.

When quoting your experiences and personality traits, remember to use verbs, discuss the impact you have made and discuss efforts you are taking to overcome any weaknesses.

For instance, saying “I am hardworking” is not as valuable as saying “I work diligently in teams and focus on the big picture in work but want to try becoming more detail-oriented”.

Staying committed to the firm:

No firm wants to hire someone who is coming to the interview unprepared or lacking the enthusiasm to join them.

Checking the LinkedIn profiles of the firm and interviewer, visiting the firm’s website/social media pages, and discussing the role and firm with their current employees are a few steps you can take to prepare for this conversation.

Moreover, assessing how your profile matches the job role will also help you discuss your growth in the interviewer’s company.

Why do you want to join our firm?
Why did you leave your last job?
Why is this the right field for you?
Where do you see yourself in five years?

Say your goodbyes:

Roles have reversed here. You are no longer in the hot seat and can ask the interviewer pertinent questions. The interviewer knows this and is expecting you to share your thoughts and ask questions, so never leave the interview room without doing so.

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The interviewer knows this and is expecting you to share your thoughts and ask questions, so never leave the interview room without doing so.

Do you have any questions for us?
Do you have any thoughts about this interview?

Some examples of questions you can ask include, “can I get more clarity on xyz topics discussed during the interview?”, “what has compelled you to join and work with this firm”, and “what are the growth prospects of this firm looking like going forward?”

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With all the questions shared above, you can derive common patterns and categorise them. For example, “tell us about yourself” and “why should we hire you?” can have overlapping responses.

Therefore, the key here is to prepare, rehearse and repeat. So, grab those notepads and start scribbling out all your answers. Discuss those answers with peers and mentors, and voila, you are set for a lifetime of interviews!

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The Evolution of Operational Data

  Aafiah Khan

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  Aafiah Khan

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evolution of operational data - Rayn Group

When I started my career in Automation, the industry was getting used to the idea of extracting data from automation systems and using this for reporting purposes. This was to avoid having to manually capture readings from various pieces of equipment from around the plant at regular intervals.

 

Retrospective Data

Organizations relied on data at the end of each shift or batch to evaluate the progress and efficiency of their operations. These readings were then used to perform calculations based on what was recorded in the previous shift.

By that stage, this information presented no more than a post-mortem of events that had taken place, which could then in turn be used to help improve the next cycle.

If a fault had occurred, the information could also help to try and understand the cause of the failure.

 

Reporting Tools

One of my first jobs in industrial automation involved developing a system for Sydney Water where I used SQL commands to get meter readings from the control system. Once I had the readings I would then write the data into MS Excel and Access (which at the time felt very cutting edge!). This was the main driver for the introduction of reporting tools. Customers wanted to avoid human error caused by taking these repetitive readings and required reports to be automated.

 

Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT)

With the evolution in smart devices and access to real-time data, it became easier to make accurate and informed decisions regarding operations based on what was happening on the plant in real-time.

However, if a failure occurred, downtime was inevitable. For many processes any unplanned downtime could prove detrimental to equipment health and be extremely costly. Some processes require a complete restart resulting in many days of subsequent downtime and costing huge amounts in lost revenue.

 

Predictive Analytics

The onset of IIOT and industry 4.0 led to the end consumer being flooded with information coming from devices that are smarter than ever. Moreover, we are evolving towards self-optimizing autonomous systems that could further lead to information overload.

Organisations can now change their course of action based on what is likely to happen.

Predictive analytics systems actively predict when a fault is likely to occur based on historical behaviours and patterns of equipment and processes. This allows operations to plan their downtime, and maintenance cycles and avoid damaging their valuable assets.
The immense amount of data availability is one of the real values unlocked through the emergence of IIOT.

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The immense amount of data availability is one of the real values unlocked through the emergence of IIOT.

The Evolution of Operational Data

The IT and OT divide

Another byproduct of this data availability is the convergence of the IT and OT space. This convergence has allowed for the interoperability of the automation systems with the rest of the organisation’s business systems be it maintenance, ordering or ERP.

What happens on the plant can now autonomously adjust the course of the entire supply chain to minimise impact on the bottom.

These systems are no longer just interacting within the operational environment. They are now working together with the organisation’s business decision making tools to further enrich the decision making process.

This information is vital for informed and intelligent decision making – a requisite in today’s competitive marketplace.

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This information is vital for informed and intelligent decision making – a requisite in today’s competitive marketplace.

Want to know more about future-proofing your operations and getting the most out of your existing automation assets?

Speak to one of our specialised consultants on how we can help your organisation on its transformational journey towards efficiency and transparency.

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