As an experienced hire, I spent 16 years of my design career in the advertising and digital agency environment. I am now part of the Accenture Interactive team in Cape Town and Johannesburg. We work with a range of clients using service design principles to improve customer experience and change behaviour. This often incorporates ethnographic research, workshops to define the problem and then innovative visual design and creative technology, underpinned by solid strategy and business thinking, to transform how organisations think and manage their digital services.
I’m an early riser so I’m usually awake at 5:30am. I’ll check emails and then I’ll head up Table Mountain for an hour’s run or I’ll be on a flight to Joburg where I work every week. I spend the majority of my time on site at one of the client’s offices working directly with them, catching up with the development teams, fixing problems, planning, presenting, reviewing and testing work. No two days are ever the same and depend on which phase of the project I am working on. Sometimes I’ll conduct research or facilitate workshops. Where possible, I still like to set the design direction of the product interfaces we are proposing. The best part of my role is working in multiple teams and developing connections and relationships with a wide range of people.
I think life should be an amazing collection of experiences. I want to tell incredible stories about where I’ve been and the people I’ve met, so I often spend my leave travelling to remote places. I love a challenge, and travel often teaches you a lot about yourself and your resourcefulness. You really hone your problem solving skills when you find yourself on a local bus in the northern reaches of Mozambique, on a dirt road, in the bush, with no idea where you are … and none of your fellow passengers speak English. Communicating with gestures and a smile was a defining moment of that trip. I can’t wait to see where I’ll end up next.
I find that even when things are going well it can sometimes feel really hard to work out how to achieve your objectives. The difficulty of the project, combined with the weight of your own and everyone else’s expectations, can freeze the part of your brain where the ideas live. That’s when I apply the ‘bite-size chunks’ rule. In my spare time, I’m a long distance runner, and one thing running the Comrades three times has taught me is that the finish line is a lot closer when you stop trying to run 89km and start dividing it into manageable portions. At work, the best way to do this is to keep an eye on, but initially don’t focus on the final product due in six months—just get started on the first task. I think ideas flow when you own the work, not when the work owns you.