Labs Life: Introducing Mark Brady
Each week we try to give our readers insight into the inner workings of Sutherland Labs. This week, Mark Brady, a Principal Design Researcher in our Covent Garden office zooms in to give us a little insight into his corner of the world of Design Thinking.
What is your job here at Sutherland?
Mark: I help design things so that they fit around people better. So that they’re easier and more enjoyable to use. This could be anything from an app, to a whole service like providing holidays for people. As a design researcher you have to be really adept at putting yourself in other people’s shoes. I think it’s a skill that you have to work to develop, but there has to be a foundation there to start. I’ve also got a background in coding and technology, which helps me understand what is and isn’t feasible for a client when suggesting changes to a product or service.
Before Sutherland I worked at another design research agency for seven years. Before that I did a PhD in Sociology and worked at a research centre for British Telecoms. Design and technology have always been a focus for me throughout my life. Both design and technology embody change and iteration. You realize that change happens all the time and that those that don’t change get left behind. Design thinking is about fluidity and constantly iterating and improving.
What do you like to do for fun?
Mark: When I was a kid I wanted to be a Formula One driver. I quite liked things that went fast and I still do. I also love to be outside in nature as much as possible, which might be why I love to cycle so much.
The other thing that I spend most of my free time doing is playing with my exceedingly cute seven month old daughter. At the moment, babies and cycling are pretty mutually exclusive, but I’m hoping that as she gets older I will be able to combine my two favourite things.
What have been your best and worst days working with Sutherland?
Mark: There aren’t really any bad days. I could be running sessions in the lab one day, writing a proposal or report the next, and out and about interviewing participants at their home or office on another day. The variety and chance to constantly learn about new domains is one of the things I love about the job.
I got the chance to travel to Japan about a year ago for a project. It was one of the places I’ve always wanted to visit. I loved seeing such a different country and got to work with some great people while there.
What existing service do you think could use a dose of Design Thinking?
Mark: Banking. Without hesitation. I think the whole industry is ripe for an overhaul. Smaller companies like Monzo and Atom are stealing the march on traditional bankers and it’s only a matter of time before the dinosaurs become fossilized unless they start making some important changes to the way they do business and view their customers.
More and more companies will come to see user experience as a fundamental element in running a business and so we’ll see more internal departments devoted to UX, in much the same way as many companies have an HR or finance department.
How do you expect Design Thinking to change over the next few years?
Mark: More and more companies will come to see user experience as a fundamental element in running a business and so we’ll see more internal departments devoted to UX, in much the same way as many companies have an HR or finance department. I think the way we interact with computers has changed at an astonishing rate in the past few years. I think screens as points of interaction will always be important, but will be joined more and more by voice and gestures, and other ways of interacting. Secondly, I think that organizations are becoming more and more keyed into the idea of end-to-end customer service design, and so I think we’ll see more of that kind of work as time goes on.
Will Mark ever convince his wife to let him load a baby into his bike’s basket? Will he ever stop borrowing other people’s shoes without asking? Will his evil plan to fossilize every banker in London come to fruition? Will someone buy him a formula one driving experience for his birthday? Come back next week for another instalment of ‘Labs Life’ to find out these answers and more!