I'm Kio. And I'm a Designer.
My name sounds Japanese, I've been told I look 'a bit' Spanish, and I’ve inadvertently spent much of my career confusing Americans with my accent...but I'm Irish.
I'm currently working at award-winning design and innovation studio DNA Design in Auckland, New Zealand (2017). There, I've been facilitating and leading end-to-end design impact for clients in the On Demand TV space, finance, healthcare retail and energy utility industries. I work across customer research, information architecture, design concepting and team and stakeholder direction.
Before joining DNA, I was consulting with London-based design agency Reason, in 2016/2017. My projects there included helping a global education provider explore a new mobile lead generation app for English language learners globally, developing a learning platform for an international network of NGOs working in disaster preparedness, and growing business with an existing client; a global US fashion retailer in some ethnographic research work to improve its processes, and lots of workshop facilitiation.
I enjoy empowering large and small teams of designers to grow their capabilities, but am really happy to get my hands dirty providing user research and design value directly as part of a team. Leadership or hands-on roles - both are comfortable for me. I'm not fazed by the often inherently ambiguous paths through design projects, and, in fact, I enjoy helping teammates navigate these. Equally, I balance empowering other researchers and designers with an eye on the commercial details and metrics for success. I'm looking to work with diverse, humble teams on projects that do good in the world.
Like many UX and Product Research folks, I’ve reached where I am today through a snakes and ladders route. My original high-flying aims in university were to become a French/Spanish interpreter (“Salut!-Hola!”), but this course option was, some might say, weirdly, combined with computing. It was there I first learned the joys of user experience and basic coding.
On realising my interpreting skills on a practical level would have me working on pretty dry, unexciting stuff in Brussels, and after a brief stint in Paris at Elle Magazine (don't ask), in 2004 I ended up joining Google as they were setting up their first European offices. It was there that I found a way into UX and Product Management, working as part of the core teams researching users and designing features for the Google Adwords advertising platform, for over four years. This work brought me all over the world, with far too much time and more fun than was healthy in New York and San Francisco, helping the US-based teams understand the needs of European Google advertisers - a market securing $2 Billion in annual revenues during my time there.
After a few years in Google, I took some time out to travel in South America, and went to live for a year in Buenos Aires. There, I got back into teaching (I’m a qualified English language teacher too – ‘hello!’), and generally enjoying time with the lovely Porteños and the warm welcome I found throughout the countries I was lucky enough to visit in South America.
London called in 2010. When I first arrived, I took a process-design role for a since-floated US software start-up, Marin Software, and again spent time back and forth to San Francisco. At this point, I was convinced I needed to immerse myself in UX more formally, so I took 2011 to study for my MSc in Human-Computer Interaction at University College London. It was a fantastic experience, and really gave me the grounding to understand the science of how people behave and do what they do, which I get to use daily in my work as a designer, and build on my previous digital experience. I also published several studies on laughter. Look them up sometime, you may enjoy.
Between 2013 and 2016, I spent almost three years recruiting, establishing and leading a 12-strong research and design team of wonderfully talented UX Researchers, Interaction and UI Designers at MOO.COM. My managers were, once again, all Americans, so I continued my ongoing quest to confuse poor statesiders with unintentional Irishisms. I've also enjoyed helping out on the UX Design course as needed as a course instructor, with General Assembly.