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Jobs 101: User experience designer

Jobs 101 User Experience Designer


Banks are not just about crunching numbers, and designer Gordon Goh is a testament to that!

I know what most of you might be thinking. A bank is for people who deal with numbers and money, right? What does it have to do with a designer?

Meet Gordon Goh, a technology and design lead at DBS Bank.

Gordon designs websites and marketing collaterals, and develops prototypes for customer-centric projects for the bank. One of his most prominent projects was revamping the automated teller machine (ATM) interface, which allows users to use the touchscreen together with the physical number pad.

We spoke to the trained industrial designer to find out more about what he does at a bank.

Who: Gordon Goh, 32
Occupation: Technology and design lead
Studied: Degree in industrial design at the University of New South Wales

Tell us more about yourself!

During the weekends, I play a lot of console games on a PS4. I play all kinds of genres, from first person shooters to role-playing games. I think they have one of the most forward-thinking [designs] when it comes to user experience (UX) and user interface (UI).

If time permits, I also like to cook at home. Cooking is the fastest way of creating something new. It has always been my passion to create stuff.

How and why did you become an industrial designer?

I realised I liked product engineering when I was studying engineering in Temasek Polytechnic. From there, I pursued my degree in industrial design at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

Jobs 101 User Experience Designer

When I came back, I wanted to do something different from what I studied. Since user experience was up-and-coming in Singapore, I decided to just dive into it.

Describe a typical day at work.

On some days, we have work-in-progress sessions, where the leads from each team come together to give an update on what they are currently doing or going to do. Then, we have daily rituals like stand-up meetings [where team members briefly discuss the issues users face and how to solve them].

After that, the leads will work on their own stuff, like updating the websites and doing collaterals for the marketing department of the bank.

Jobs 101 User Experience Designer

On special occasions, I facilitate events like Hackathon. This in-house event exposes the staff to a new way of working in a time pressured environment. Through this process, participants are able to create innovative and creative consumer products.

What inspires you in your work?

Seeing how technology and design can affect people's lives really drives me. In the past, we used to queue up at banks to withdraw and deposit money or find out more about our account balance. Now, I can use my fingerprint or a swipe to take care of my bills anywhere and anytime.

Technology and design are enabling us to find more time for more important things to do in life, such as spending time with my family.

What is the most memorable moment that you've had as a user experience designer?

It was during the Swift International Banking Operations Seminar (Sibos) at Singapore in October 2015. It was the [first time we debuted] Pepper, a humanoid robot with simple artificial intelligence. It assists staff and advises customers on the types of services available in the bank.

I worked very closely with the marketing and events team to create a booth that [simulates a DBS branch] and showcases what robotics can do to enhance the industry. We wanted to show banks around the world that we were looking towards the future of banking. 

What are some of the challengers you've faced in this job?

The main challenge is getting certain ideas across to the different stakeholders. Some external and internal stakeholders find it difficult to accept [our ideas] or are just not ready for changes.

So, we have to think out of the box for ways we can convince them, such as through product experiments and showcasing the product.


What advice do you have for youths who aspire to be designers?

If you studied industrial design like me, you don't have to stick with it. Even in the banking industry, we are open to a wide variety of people.

Don't be restricted by what you studied. Focus on the fundamental design skills instead. Design is no longer about just making a PowerPoint presentation look nicer. It is much more than that. Design can be used to help your team to brainstorm and when pitching ideas to your boss.

Design is a tool that will actually be useful for life, and it is not something that will become outdated in two to three years' time.

Educational requirements: A degree in a design course is encouraged.

Qualities needed: Resilience, flexibility, open-mindedness, ability to work in a team and not being afraid of failure.

Salary range: The basic salary for most designers with a degree is approximately $3,000. Increment is based on experience and the number of projects taken.

Working hours: 9am to 6pm. Be prepared to work longer hours for events and external projects.

Career prospects: A designer can advance to a senior designer, followed by a position in the management or creative department in a company. Alternatively, you could enter an industry that requires you to use your skills as a designer.