NewCampus helps you fit learning into your life through daily discussion-led classes, hosted by virtual instructors, delivered in inspiring offline classrooms. Our team is global and remote first. We’re part nerdy, part creative but we all share a passion for changing the way people learn and grow. Keep life in beta.
This week, we connect with Michelle Shi, the Chief Creative Officer at NewCampus. Michelle is not only a talented designer but someone you can chat with on any topic under the sun, moon and stars!
She spearheaded the rebranding of QLC to NewCampus and gave us our current cool identity that we are super proud of. She directs the way our brand is perceived by the audience and dips a creative oar into all customer-facing aspects of the business.
When not working wonders in design and branding, Michelle can usually be found closing and opening doors for her cat Tiaotiao whose bushy tail often makes a special appearance on our Zoom calls.
Tell us a little about yourself
I’m an American graphic designer who was born in Shanghai and grew up between cultures all my life. It’s given me a great fascination with everything from art to science to obscure history, and all the weird and unexpected inspirations that exist in the world!
What do you do at NewCampus?
I’m the Chief Creative Officer, but that just means I think a lot every day about how to elevate and expand NewCampus’s brand on all facets. I support the team and make sure that they are comfortable and happy :)
What does your typical day at work look like?
I’m a bit of a night owl so I tend to start work late. Since I work remotely, I generally have a few meetings over Zoom in the early- / mid- afternoons that revolve around marketing (what are we testing this week on our landing page) as well as product (how can we improve our in-class experience). In the past few weeks my colleague Eddy and I have begun the process of building our first mobile app, so we’ve had to arrange calls with various web development agencies around Asia.
Once I’m done with meetings, I buckle down to work on landing page designs and changes for the week, which might involve designing new graphics or pages. If events are going on– like the recent virtual learning festival we co-hosted with one of our enterprise partners– I design collateral so my teammates can use those and adapt them for various marketing channels. Much of my work in this area involves thinking as a non-designer, devising how to create easy-to-use frameworks that everyone in the company can use without needing to consult me. On the product side, since we’re working on an upcoming mobile app, I need to create wireframes in Sketch that allow the development agencies to understand our vision.
A day’s work really runs the gamut from web to graphic to UIUX design, with branding strategy and a few illustrations thrown in. It’s definitely not a monotonous job! Recently I have begun to work quite late since I start late, but I’m trying to get into a bit more of a “normal” schedule.
What is your current focus at work?
I recently decided to refresh the NewCampus colours to reflect a more mature personality so I’ve been thinking a lot (as have our whole team) about how to elevate NewCampus from scrappy startup to a more grown-up (but still fun!) version of itself.
Three words that describe you?
Nerdy, curious, hungry
Why did you join NewCampus? What excites you about what you do?
The team’s values and vision have always been the main driver for me. Education is something I’m very passionate about, and to be able to work on something I believe in with some really cool people is awesome. When I joined the company, it was a completely different business model, but the same vision inspired me as it does now — to help people feel like they’re becoming who they want to be, and finding where they belong. It’s exciting to think about future projects NewCampus will take on, inspiring others to join us in our journey to redefine lifelong learning.
How do you incorporate lifelong learning into your schedule?
I’m geeky enough that I go down Wikipedia wormholes quite easily, and nowadays there are lots of ways to learn — the internet, podcasts, documentaries. I find that it doesn’t really need to be scheduled, but it comes naturally if you keep your mind open and curious. However, I do try to put away time on weekends to learn to paint better.
What/who inspires you?
Lots of things: books and music and movies, but also people I have conversations with. I think it’s important to get inspiration from unexpected places. A while back I discovered Billie Eilish (I’m old) who had a great quote about sharing your creativity because you never know how it might inspire someone else to create as well. That made me think a lot about why I create things! Thoughtful young people like that really inspire me — I was definitely not as articulate at that age!
Share a book/podcast/article (with relevant data and links) that inspired you and tell us why it impacted you
Invisible Cities, by Italo Calvino — a beautiful work of imagination that kind of defies definition, but could very well be about how every place we go to is essentially the same place because we’re always viewing it through ourselves. It’s also about the endless possibilities of ourselves in these imaginary places. Since I grew up in a different country than I was born in, I periodically think of these speculative scenarios about myself, and it impacted me a lot when I first read it in college!
What do you do outside of work for fun?
Painting, drawing, reading, and giving my cat lots of pets.
What’s the best piece of advice you can give to anyone?
I heard this one today! “We’re all still growing up.” I’m a slow and steady type of person, so I love the idea that we’re all still on our own journeys of change, and we should be patient with ourselves.
Your favourite quote/motto
“A ship in harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”