Speakers

Katie Swindler

Katie Swindler
UX Strategist AT Allstate

A Designer’s Guide to Life-and-Death Decisions

Stress changes the human brain, enhancing some abilities and degrading others. In some of the most dangerous industries, creators of life-saving products have discovered how to leverage brain science and smart design to harness good instincts while reducing panic and aggression. They use human-centered design to help their users land airplanes, avoid car crashes, resuscitate heart attack victims, and escape burning buildings. Apply their techniques to your work in any field to create clear, intuitive experiences that effectively guide the behavior of your users, no matter their state of mind.

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Katie is a user experience strategist who writes and speaks on topics related to human-centered design. Originally educated as a theatre director, she brings a unique perspective to digital work. She believes that if brands wish to truly connect with consumers, they must combine emotion and utility, storytelling and technology to fulfill real human needs.  

Katie currently heads Design Strategist for Allstate Insurance’s Innovation group, guiding the design of new products and services. Prior to joining Allstate, she was a UX Director at FCB Chicago where she was the UX lead on the 2016 global redesign of JackDaniels.com as well as leading experience design for many other clients such as Cox Communications, Meow Mix, and Toyota Financial Services. 

Katie is an experienced presenter who has spoken on UX topics internationally at design industry events such as SXSW Interactive, IxDA Interaction, 4A’s, Amuse and PUSH. She is currently working with Rosenfeld Media on a book that explores researched-based design techniques that work with ingrained human survival instincts entitled Life & Death Design, set for release in late 2021.

Meena Kothandaraman

Meena Kothandaraman
Experience Strategist & Lecturer AT twig+fish & Bentley University

Challenging Research Norms: Positioning Qualitative Research to Succeed

Focus on the number of products and services we have around us, that we touch, hear, see and interact with on a daily basis – why is it that so few leave us enamored? Or possibly leave us feeling unfulfilled, as creators and as customers? We miss the power of forging emotional connection with so much of what we produce. When we scrutinize this further, and even looking back in time, we always hear about the importance of design and development and ultimately marketing in any offering we put out to the world. Why is it that research, and specifically qualitative research, a vehicle to nurturing and collecting those kinds of human connections and stories is considered an “add-on”, or often left out of the process of what is created?

Organizations need to ensure that designs are anchored in human stories, but as we move from design to development, research is not considered core to the process. There are so many moments of success to consider and promote, that we often overlook. Should we be able to leverage these moments, everyone will feel that much closer to what is created, while also challenging and growing our design processes.

Meena will share insights from her vast experience as a qualitative researcher and open up discussions as to what researchers and non-researchers should be doing to position research activities for success. Come join a passionate discussion on research as a discipline and walk away with reflections and strategies on what you can implement in your organization.

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With 30+ years of experience, Meena has consulted to emphasize the strategic value and positioning of qualitative research in the design of product, space and service. Meena is fascinated by the complexity of human behavior, and applies a credible, structured and transparent approach to integrating human stories and anecdotes into mainstream processes. This ensures that research activities provide the best service to the organization, and that learning objectives are addressed to maximize potential.

Meena is a founding member of twig+fish, a research and strategy practice based in Boston, MA, that espouses these research beliefs, while maintaining a utopic work-life balance. She is also a key Lecturer in the Bentley University Human Factors and Information Design (HFID) graduate program. Over her 20+year tenure, her capstone qualitative research course has guided now-leading practitioners to integrating meaningful and successful research practices. She has openly shared her experience as a WOC as part of the curriculum she has constructed.

She holds an M.S. in Information Resources Management from Syracuse

University and a B.Com. in MIS from the University of Ottawa, Canada. Meena is always inspired in her work by her other passions, namely performing as a South-Indian Classical Violinist, pursuing culinary arts through a learn-to-cook program, and learning about the career pursuits of her two children!

Sebastian Gier

Sebastian Gier
Co-Founder and Managing Director AT Footprint

TBD

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Sebastian Gier is the Co-Founder of Footprint, a digital climate tech startup. Further, he is the host of the Designdrives Podcast where he interviews global design leaders on the impact of design. For the last 5 years, he designed future mobility experiences at BMW Group as a Design Lead for rear-seat passenger and mobile app experiences. He gained many international design recognitions and had the chance to be invited to speak at conferences around the world on design and innovation.

Jen Blatz

Jen Blatz
Lead Staff UX Researcher AT Rocket Mortgage

UX Research and Service Design for Enterprise

Adrian Cacho

Adrian Cacho
Frontend Engineer AT Parcel

Mapping User Desires in the Web3 Landscape

Rama Gheerawo

Rama Gheerawo
Director AT The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, Royal College of Art

Human First, Designer Second: Design for equity and inclusion

Inclusive design, is design at its to most powerful and conscious. It puts people first. When we ask about who is included, we should also look at who is excluded. Rama will present frameworks and ideas that speak to exclusion by age, ability, gender or race, showing how this can be creatively limiting. Accepting all human beings on the planet can lead to a more innovative, connected and inspiring experience something that all creatives need to consider.

This talk will also draw insights from Rama‘s new book, Creative Leadership: Born from Design which aims to present a novel form of leadership for designers and innovators, based on the three values of empathy, clarity, and creativity. Drawn from the people-centred practice of inclusive design, Rama will look at how these ideas can be applied in the UX / UI space, drawing on over 300 projects completed after the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design. 

This leadership model speaks to issues of equity, diversity and inclusivity, something that is increasingly seen as being of importance across organisations and sectors. His talk will give you ideas to use the very next day.

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Human first | Designer second.

Rama Gheerawo is an international and inspirational figure within design. He won a ‘Hall of Fame’ award for his work at the Design Week Awards in 2019 and was named a 2018 Creative Leaders by Creative Review alongside Paul Smith and Björk, As Director of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, he uses design to address issues around age, ability, gender and race. He is a serial innovator in the fields of Inclusive Design, Design Thinking and Creative Leadership having personally led over 100 projects working internationally with governments, business, academia and the third sector with clients such as Samsung, Toyota, AgeUK and Panasonic. He champions inclusive and empathic approaches for individuals and organisations through his pathfinding work in Creative Leadership, with training delivered globally to thousands of people including over 700 civil servants. He is in high demand as a keynote speaker, and writes, curates exhibitions and runs workshops for audiences that range from students to business executives. Rama sits on a number of advisory boards and committees for awards, universities and organisations such as the UK Design Council, The International Association for Universal Design, the Design Management Institute, The Bhavan Institute for Indian Culture and the RSA Decolonising Design Initiative. He has been a Visiting Professor at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and the Katowice Academy of Fine Art.

Christiaan Maats

Christiaan Maats
Sustainable Designer & Co-Creator

TBD

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How do we create a better world, from person to brand to product? Christiaan Maats is an award winning Dutch product designer, entrepreneur and educator who has put this question at the center of his work.

In 2008 he created OAT Shoes, the world’s first 100% biodegradable shoes that bloom. After 7 years of trailblazing in the footwear market, he further explored the idea behind this innovation, which lead to a popular TEDx-talk called "How Product Design Can Change the World".

Christiaan now uses his experience and ideas to guide businesses towards sustainable value propositions that can truly make a difference: from lectures, to programmed workshops to open-form process facilitation.

Kasey Canlas

Kasey Canlas
UX Research Operations Leader

Protecting Your Participants, Team, and Organization with ReOps

While Kasey has always cared about protecting research participants, recent updates to data privacy laws led her to examine the current research processes to establish safeguards and best practices around handling participants' data. Kasey is excited to share her experience identifying potential data privacy issues and finding solutions for compliant research practices. For her talk at AmuseUX, Kasey will give actionable steps for the audience to build a secure data-privacy-compliant research practice. The audience will learn how to evaluate existing processes, what information to document, and essential steps and best practices to add to your strategy. 

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Kasey leads UX Research Operations at a global leader in cloud customer experience. Processes that scale are key as she supports a UX research team that has tripled over the past year and democratized research for 55+ UX designers. Kasey previously led UX Research Operations at McGraw Hill, where she was a founding member of the DesignOps task force, which standardized and operationalized processes for a 50+ cross-functional team, saving thousands of work hours. Kasey knows the value of creating cross-functional relationships across the organization to proactively identify opportunities for collaboration and optimize existing processes.

Farai Madzima

Farai Madzima
UX Lead AT Shopify

TBD