We've been reaching out to some senior creatives from different backgrounds to get insights on what it's like shifting to NZ, their creative journey and what they're seeing so far in the local market. This is our first installment!
Nikki and I had the pleasure of meeting Fayssal Loussaief founder of the Good Workshop who's recently moved to Auckland and came highly recommended to us from our London UX team. Fayssal has kindly provided some insights into his creative journey as a CX Director; what it's like moving to and working in a new country; and observations of the local market. Please take a read and we'd love to get your thoughts and insights as well :)
Why the move to NZ?
Love. My partner is a Kiwi, and her family lives here (hello Aunty Rose). After seven years in London, we also decided to improve our quality of life; we needed more sun and the beaches.
What were the challenges in moving (visa, accommodation, socialising)?
I am now on a 24 months work visa. Back in the UK, my partner had to go through some different visa forms, so we are experts in visa applications now. The most challenging part was to obtain the police certificates from four different countries, that took a few weeks. But the positive application response from Immigrations New Zealand came within a week.
For now, we are bouncing from one Airbnb to the next, exploring the different areas in Auckland before we decide where we want to live.
Socialising I guess is still very work-related and mostly through meetups.
Differences you noticed (socially/ cultural differences)?
December marks only my third month in Auckland, and already it's clear that the food here is level with Melbourne, Toronto or even Barcelona. Some people might punch me in the face for, but it's true.
Where is NZ on the UX journey?
Wow—I'd love to hand over the question to someone like Sarah Clearwater from the CX Collective for example. She is way more experienced in the field and of course, here in New Zealand. In terms of innovation infrastructure, there are more investments required to keep up with other regions. But so far I have seen initiatives like Better by Design and plenty of exciting startups that are shaping and driving change like Jasper or Build My MVP. Also, you are a great example; I know that you and Nikki are travelling the country and assessing the state of UX too. What is your view?
My outside perception of the opportunities around UX here is the fact that brands can test a product or service more discretely. Due to the remote location and population as well as demographics, New Zealand could become the number one place for experimentation and incubation initiatives globally. Here is an excellent example of how the e-Scooter war is progressing outside of silicon valley.
Challenges in the local industry?
Like in all other regions, the most significant challenges are the different levels of maturity both client and supplier side. If we do a lousy job in demonstrating the value of our work, anyone who engages with our industry will primarily focus on the cost and as a result, invite us to create experiences that are predominantly driven by cost — leading experiences through value results in better and more innovative outcomes.
Differences in UX, process?
There shouldn't be any significant differences. I think the dominant industries here dictate the work or type of need and hopefully in the future driven by more variety, innovation and more tech startups with a focus on sustainability and well being.
Your pathway to UX?
All sorts of industries are riding the train of user/customer-centricity. Some companies do that for almost 70 years now. Well, today at least we are all trying our best to understand customers, users and people, in general, better and mostly trying to analyse their needs and wants and behaviours between these dimensions.
I believe that we are all contributing to this "understanding" no matter what our speciality is and also no matter what our reasoning is.
Now, the UX industry offers plenty of evidence concerning the possible entry points. From hardcore practitioners who are dedicated and passionate about the craft and processes 150% to, for example, proposal writers at Christies who are keen to switch industries. They, like experts in other sectors, bring a different understanding, approach and perception of value to the table. That is making stuff more exciting, diverse and more productive, of course.
Without going into an overly complicated example, you might also agree that there is more to the UX path than the term suggests. There are so many valuable nuances between a few critical anchor roles, and I assume that's the point you are trying to get out Brian. I see that it makes our industry more inclusive on the one hand, on the other hand, also very confusing as terms, role descriptions and methodologies keep changing.
My path started with Daab Publishing (print), with a small team of six people editing, designing, shipping and publishing design, architecture and art books around the world. I learned everything about, crafting products (without ctrl+z), creating something people can hold in their hands from Ralf Daab, the publisher back then and my first creative director Feyyaz.
With the introduction of the iPad, the focus shifted towards digital in broad terms, and I made a move to Saatchi & Saatchi, followed by Sapient Publicis, back then it was Sapient Nitro.
2012 then was a critical point where I started to hang around startups more and more. I discovered in-house incubators, innovations hubs and accelerators—it was and still is like a candy shop for me. The focus here was less about the best-perceived idea but more about the problem, the challenge, the evidence and the impact on users, customers, business, industry and environment. With Santander, for example, we travelled across the UK to test our product in smaller cities using data from our analytics tools and comparing the numbers we saw on-screen watching real people's behaviours and often endure some harsh comments. Priceless.
In summary, and that is just one view, my ideal state or idea of UX in broad terms is two-fold, one that looks for significant impact and offers transparency and privacy to users and customers. And another one that takes all the internal process pains away from experiences. The latter sounds banal today, but it still is a principal obstacle on the way to designing the right product or service.
To close my point around the path to UX, I think people are facing an industry that's both reliable in its current form and yet in constant need for change. I think that's both madness and pretty awesome at the same time.
The next step for practitioners and those driving product and service decisions, I think it is to get back to accountability more. I am referring to trends around sustainability, the need to understand what we are releasing has an impact and that we must genuinely witness, experience and react to the implications beyond a few touchpoints and screens. The evidence around climate change and the ROI that the circular economy offers, for example, are all clear signs for what kind of change we ought to deal with now.