As the son of an artist and a dress maker, you could say my education started early. I've always considered myself to be creative, but a love of structure and function steered me toward design as opposed to art (I'm not much of a painter anyway). After finishing school, I wasn't sure what to do next – for some reason, creative careers weren't 'pushed'. I very nearly joined the RAF but instead I attempted and failed the Air Traffic Control entrance exam. You can only apply annually, so instead of waiting another year I enrolled in the Graphic Design course at Cardonald College - the rest is history.
My first job was with an estate agent producing property schedules and brochures. All work was placed via an internal workflow system and points were allocated depending on the size of the job - 8 points for an '8 pager', 6 points for a '6 pager', and so on. You had to get 45 points per day. It was robotic, but it taught me some early lessons in working hard, accuracy and responding to real world time pressures – values I carry with me today.
It was agency life after that. I've always been fortunate enough to work with talented people and took every opportunity to develop and progress. The first five or six years of my career were 'offline' with minimal exposure to the 'World Wide Web'. However, the industry was evolving so I made the move to 'digital' – telling myself I could change design on the internet (seriously). I joined Peach Digital, an agency who specialised in cinema websites. Starting out as a junior again was challenging but I was committed and took on as much as I could (both in work and at home) to gain as much experience as possible. I fell in love with 'digital' and the core challenge around designing products which not only look great (User Interface) but work well (User Experience). From there, I spent the next eight years at D8, progressing to Digital Design Director before joining Phlo as Head of Design after almost twenty years in the industry.
Deciding what to do next in your career needs careful consideration. As a rule of thumb throughout my career, I have always pursued one opportunity at a time. This helps me focus, learn about the (potential) employer, and loosely determine the impact I'd have. It took me almost six months to find Phlo and I’m grateful I did. Phlo stood out for many reasons:
I wanted to play my part in all of this
There isn't a typical day which, for me, is one of the most appealing aspects of design. There are always fresh challenges, interesting problems to solve, opportunities to collaborate, and the chance to learn. This is particularly pertinent at Phlo and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Phlo designs, builds, and maintains multiple products and systems for a myriad of users/patients with unique needs. Every project involves collaboration between Researchers, Product Owners, Data Scientists, Designers, Engineers, and Marketers and there is a genuine sense of purpose in the work we produce. We also have in-house Pharmacists, Dispensers, Patient Care Team, and access to real-life patients, all of whom inform our solutions. So, for me, every project is both enjoyable and perhaps more importantly, worthwhile.
For me, it looks something like this: 50% scratching my head, 40% now I get it, 10% we made it. The first stage is all about analysing the problem, researching, iterating, testing, and sense-checking early ideas - 'little and often'. The second stage is about deciding what works best and developing the core idea. The third stage is production, handover and support as the idea comes to life - we demo releases internally, then launch. We have a constant cycle of real-world feedback which allows us to measure success and continuously iterate on our solutions. It is a wonderful way to work.
Driving change within digital healthcare, making a difference to patients' lives, and seeing the incredible feedback we receive along the way.
After almost four decades I have managed to narrow it down to four things:
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