What is it like to work at MTT?
It’s a very fast paced environment. I guess it has to be as things change so quickly in the travel industry. This past year the focus has been on developing the design team so it’s been great to put a shape on that. There is a real appetite to change and improve things, everyone is pulling in the same direction so you can be really effective in making changes.
What does your role entail?
I’m the Director of Design which means that I’m responsible for developing the design team and our design capabilities. A lot of my work is what’s known as design integration - helping MTT succeed by incorporating design approaches into the business.
What advice would you have for anyone that is interested in working on your team?
This may sound obvious but it’s important for any designer to understand what a good design process looks like. Many designers don’t really understand what good design looks like, they think it's a visual/aesthetic thing, or just the thing they produce, but it’s a process. When I’m hiring what I really look for is commitment from designers. Some designers can be interested solely in their portfolio or working on ‘sexy’ projects. However, I feel the really interesting work is often product work. For example the travel industry is more than just apps for airlines, that’s the tip of the iceberg. It’s a complex industry and the problems you are solving are interesting and a challenge too.
What is the favourite part of your job?
The best part of my job is growing and developing the team and the culture, that’s the most satisfying thing. It’s a slow process and takes a long time to develop but when you look back over three, six, nine months you can really see the change and impact you have made.
What are you most proud of achieving in MTT?
I think it has to be the way the team now manages themselves, which was not what we were doing a year ago. They’re given a lot of responsibility. We’ve developed processes, invested in people and equipment, defined roles and done a lot of work educating the people who work with designers.
Describe your typical day in MTT
No two days are ever the same. I try and avoid checking my emails first thing in the morning, which is sometimes a temptation - maintaining inbox zero can become an obsession. I try and do as much face to face interaction as I can, with my team alone I try and do it at least once a day, if not every few days. It can be tricky as at the moment we’re split over 3 buildings, but that will be changing soon! I find I do a lot of work on my mobile. Often I have meetings that can be back to back so I often respond to messages and chats on my mobile. However, if I want to get the head down we have a great office space in MTT where there are lots of ‘quiet’ spaces I can use.
Another part of my day is going to customer demos to see what we’re working on live in action and see the customer's reaction to it as well as going to design reviews to see what the feedback is like.
Where would we find you outside of work?
I have kids so more often than not you would find me at a playground at the weekends. I also play tennis and 5 a side football (with a recent shoulder break for my troubles!). I did a talk at UX Cambridge in September so on those occasions some of my evenings are spent preparing my talk.
What was life like pre MTT?
I started out studying digital cartography and GIS which is a great way to learn about design, because it’s as much about taking stuff out as it is about putting stuff in. I then went to work for a really visionary company called Nua, around the time of the dot com bubble; they were way ahead of their time and I learnt a huge amount there in the space of year. I then ran my own company, a design agency for about 10 years. I was very young starting it, possibly a bit too young, but I learnt a huge amount and gained a vast amount of experience. I then moved to Paddy Power where I was the Director of Product Design, before joining MTT as Director of Design where I have been for just over a year.
How different is MTT to any other company you have worked for?
MTT is a similar size to the first company I first worked for, Nua, which is great as you feel you know everyone. It’s a very optimistic place, which is all about the future and growth potential and that’s what makes things different.
Tell us something you have learnt working in travel tech
Mobile and travel are just made for each other. It’s become the go to platform for travellers, which is part of a wider trend towards mobile being the device people use for most of their computing needs. If you are a heavy traveller you will rely on mobile a lot. Expectations are getting higher and tolerance for poor mobile experiences are low, and all the while capabilities are getting better across the industry. We’re lucky that in MTT we work with some great customers who are really ahead of their game and pushing the boundaries on what they do.
What is the favourite place you have been?
Yellowstone National Park
Describe MTT in 3 words