For the short version, download my resume. For the longer version, keep scrolling down.

I knew from a young age that I wanted to be an astronaut.

 

So in seventh grade I decided to go the Air Force Academy, major in aeronautical engineering, become a fighter pilot, test pilot, and then fly the space shuttle. I learned as a freshman at the Academy that my corneas weren't round enough to be a pilot, which raised a question I would spend the next ten years answering: what do I want to do with my life?

 

Pilot is out... now what?

 

At the end of my freshman year, I learned that although my vision was 20/20, my corneas were not properly round so I couldn't be a pilot, navigator, or aircrew of any kind. I didn't want to endure the aeronautical engineering coursework if I couldn't be a pilot, so I switched majors. Psychology, geography, and English were my top three choices, and I ultimately decided on English because I wanted to be a writer. All cadets earn a bachelor of science degree, so I had to take more math, science, and engineering courses than English courses.

I did not have a typical college experience... for a civilian or a cadet. I jumped out of perfectly good airplanes, published an academic paper on Jack Kerouac's On The Road, skinned a rogue bear that attacked our camp during survival training (not part of the curriculum), hitchhiked across half the country, visited Munich, Tokyo, and Timbuktu, was nearly kicked out of the Academy for getting deported from Canada (and an unrelated incident involving a lightning storm three days later), started an underground poetry ring, and owned a party bus with my friends. I somehow graduated in the top third of my class and was selected to be an intelligence officer, much to the surprise of my commanding officer.

 

The next best thing: working with pilots

 

I couldn't fly the planes, but I still wanted to get as close to the action as possible, so I became an intelligence officer. I spent five years in intel and worked with C-17 cargo jets and KC-10 air refueling jets. I led small teams as well as a 32-person Security Forces unit. I deployed to Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain. I devoted my time to moving aircrew briefings away from PowerPoint to an interactive presentation in Google Earth where pilots could virtually fly their routes and see the locations and altitudes where planes had been shot at.

The Air Force moved me to the engineering side and I spent three years as a program manager. In that time, I led 40+ people teams on a $14M project to upgrade satellite communications for the E-8 aircraft fleet, and a $36M project to maintain the airframes of the E-11 aircraft fleet.

But a new interest started to develop during a short visit to an Air Force base in Northern California...

 

The thrill of building a great product

 

I became interested in wine in 2010 and spent my nights and weekends taking classes and blogging about wine. I teamed up with two developer friends in 2012 and we founded WineKick: The Wine Sidekick (read the full UX case study). WineKick is a digital marketing platform for liquor stores that provides a wine and beer recommendation kiosk and mobile app. It advertises the store's inventory to nearby users and helps people choose a product in the store.

I interviewed users and store owners, created wireframes, wrote copy, led sales, and ran digital marketing. The WineKick blog receives over 3,000 pageviews per week.

I enjoyed building the product so much on nights and weekends that when the Air Force told me it was time to move to a new state, I opted to leave the Air Force and make a career of innovation strategy and user experience design.

 
- You know, a lot of people go to college for seven years.

- I know, they’re called doctors.
— Chris Farley and David Spade in "Tommy Boy"
 

When the Air Force moved me to Boston in 2011 I began the Babson College Evening MBA program, focusing on marketing and entrepreneurship. In 2014 I applied what I learned in school to a startup I founded called Drink Crate that was the world's first crowd-sourced platform for alcohol branding. In Product Design and Development, my team created Puzzle Ball, a learning toy for Hasbro. I graduated in 2015.

Course highlights include:

  • Strategy
  • Product Design and Development
  • Design and Innovation in Service Industries
  • Leading Innovation: Creating Organic Growth
  • Brand Management
  • Marketing Analytics
  • Marketing Communications
  • Marketing for Entrepreneurs
  • Entrepreneurial Finance
 
 

Inspired by the design thinking class I took at Babson, I decided to get serious studying user experience research and design with Bentley University's Master of Science in Human Factors in Information Design. I wanted the academic and theoretical foundation to build a career on. Coursework includes writing research papers (such as "Conceptual Models and the First-Generation iPod"), design exercises, and client work. All classes are held in the evening. I will graduate in May 2016.

The program requires ten classes. My coursework included:

  • Field Methods
  • Information Visualization
  • Negotiations
  • Ethnography of Work for Design
  • Prototyping and Interaction Design
  • Intelligent User Interface Design
  • Foundations in Human Factors Engineering (cognitive psychology and Human Information Processing)
  • Leading User-Centered Design Teams (Project Management)
  • Usability Testing and Assessment (qualitative focus)
  • Measuring the User Experience (quantitative focus)
 
 

I was part of the seventh Apprenticeship in UX Design program at Fresh Tilled Soil in Watertown, MA. The Fresh Tilled Soil website describes it this way:

"We turn promising designers and developers into UX pros through structured learning, one-on-one mentorship, and real-world experience. Our apprentices are early career web professionals who aspire to be leaders in the field by building beautiful, engaging web and mobile products."

To be accepted into the program, I created Modern Local in a one-week self-directed design sprint. There were four multi-week challenges that covered user experience design (iTV), user onboarding (Crystal), and coding (progressively enhanced HTML, CSS, and JavaScript). I also worked on three client projects that included onboarding, information architecture, and interface design for an electrical engineering web application, a mobile software testing web application, and an executive board planning web application.

My focus is on UX strategy, so my mentor in the program was Geordie Kaytes, Director of UX Strategy. Geordie tasked me with writing blog posts in areas that interest me, so I wrote these posts related to UX strategy:

 
 

I began work as an Information Architect in the Fidelity Investments User Experience Design (UXD) group in July 2015. The UXD acts as an internal consultancy or agency for business partners within Fidelity. 

I've worked on three projects for the Digitization of Service team. I won't be showing screenshots here, but when the code goes live I will link to it.

  • Designed the Lab Notebook, a tool for product managers to measure key metrics for new features to quickly decide if they should stop, pivot, or persevere.
  • Designed a Google-inspired topic hub to appear at the top of search results pages showing managed results. We performed qualitative and quantitative user testing to help find the best design.
  • I'm currently on a scrum team building the transaction to sign up for trading on margin and trading options. Read the story of how we made the product easy enough to use within seconds, even though it would take several minutes to fully explain to users what they are seeing and why it looks the way it does.