How I helped extend ABCN’s network of hope
September 13, 2021
I grew up in Spain and went to uni in the US because I heard, somewhere in the movies, that New York would be the best place to learn about advertising. Back in Spain, I cut my marketing teeth at Leo Burnett and L’Oreal before working for CitiBank for seven years, in product management, strategy and customer marketing.
In 2012, Citi took me from Madrid to London. Where, after a couple of years, I heard Accenture was building the largest interactive digital agency in the world, with some of the most talented people in the industry. I’ve always been drawn to learn from the best – and that sounded like an irresistible opportunity. In 2014, I joined Accenture Interactive.
It was an amazing time, with the best clients – and the start of the fintech revolution. Then my Australian wife decided London was too cold! I will forever be grateful that Accenture made my transfer to Sydney incredibly easy and I arrived down under as the Interactive ANZ Financial Services Lead.
I fell in love with design when I met Fjord’s Asia Pacific leader, Bronwyn van der Merwe. Human-centred design felt like the most natural thing in the world to me. I’d been a strategy manager at Interactive, but Bron asked me to come across as the Business Design Lead where my job was to deeply understand customer complex lives and their underserved needs, to prototype and deliver new businesses to market.
I was honoured in 2021 to be made Group Director at Fjord, running a team of approximately 80 of the most talented designers in Australia and New Zealand to deliver outcomes that drive positive human impact.
A role model with an urgent problem
When you’re a leader yourself, it’s great to find new role models. Just after COVID hit, I was lucky enough to be introduced to an inspirational leader at a very different type of organisation. Allegra Spender is the incredible, smart and caring CEO of the Australian Business and Community Network (ABCN) – one of Accenture’s not-for-profit pro bono partners.
For 15 years, ABCN’s life-changing programs had been delivered face-to-face, giving disadvantaged students access to professional mentors. But, in 2020, that was no longer possible. Pandemic restrictions meant all the connections between mentors and students had to be digital.
Allegra’s fear was that going online would diminish the quality of ABCN’s amazing work. I worked with four fantastic Fjord designers to make sure that didn’t happen.
Harnessing human emotion in digital delivery
The team and I sat down with students, mentors and educators to understand the magic that makes ABCN’s programs work, so we could replicate that same fun, spontaneity and interaction in digital experiences.
At Fjord, we often partner on complex multilayered systems for the top organisations in Australia. ABCN was different. Our solution had to work on a shoestring. So, while the designers developed and tested prototypes with our users, we figured out a set of tools ABCN could use to roll out digital programs in a low-cost way – at scale so they were able to meet their target of connecting 15,000 disadvantaged students by 2023.
We celebrated with ABCN when our pilot proved that student satisfaction metrics actually improved in digital versus the face-to-face programs!
Now Allegra has confidence that digital program delivery can be a pivotal growth lever for ABCN –helping it reach many more students, especially in regional and remote areas.
Digital transformation changes lives
Working with such a small organisation, you can immediately see the impact you have. It was so cool watching ABCN people gain confidence with the digital tools we introduced them to. Their enthusiasm came directly from Allegra, who was open minded about whatever crazy idea we put on the table and super-keen for ABCN to adapt to new ways of working.
I’m really proud that the design and tools we brought to ABCN have helped to future-proof the organisation so it can change more lives. Through our work, hundreds more disadvantaged young Australians will be first-in-family to complete Year 12 or attend university.
Become a designer at Fjord. Work on meaningful projects with brilliant designers who deeply care about the craft of design to achieve outcomes that drive positive human impact.