Catherine Madden is the Co-Founder and Director of UXDX and has been since July 2016
The Company: UXDX brings together Product, Design and Development professionals (think of the teams that build Google Maps or Spotify or even your banking app) through events, community and training. The events discuss a new model on improving team processes, building a more successful product and speeding up delivery For more info: www.uxdx.com
Job Description: My role is to project manage the activities of the company for the year. For example, our community events now span across 10 cities globally, and our annual event this year will bring 2,000 people from scaleups to enterprise companies into Dublin from around the world.
At the moment, a lot of my time is focussed on our new public speaking training program to help women in tech have more confidence to say yes to getting up on stage and sharing their work.
Likes about the Role: What I love about setting up UXDX is the opportunity to build on a vision to improve the way teams work. Agile gets noted as best practice but now dates almost 20 years.
Within our team each day we question a better way to be more efficient. Technology is still very clunky, and there is no right way to do things, so figuring out what works is always interesting.
Career ladder: In my early days I wanted to be a journalist, and I started my career in research for a financial publication; from there I fell into event production when in London and have been on that path since. I lived in Australia for 6 years where I specialised in launching new events for different industries. For me, this was like building a start-up from the ground up each time (figuring out what makes your end user tick).
Running events has given me the opportunity to meet a lot of inspiring people (we had the founder of Reddit and Pokémon Go attend UXDX this year and to get to have a real conversation with them was outstanding). I think “events” in general is a great place to get into if you want the opportunity to experience what’s going on within multiple industries at a top level. I’ve created conferences on Gold Exploration to Geospatial Information Systems in Government, so it’s never boring. The unique thing about the events industry is that you might be working for a year on a project that is just for 2 days, and it’s indescribable the feeling of pride and the emotion (probably from adrenaline and exhaustion) from when those 2 days are over and you get to see the vision live.
Qualifications: Hons BA Journalism, London Metropolitan University
Working hours:I do like to start the day at 8am as it gives me an hour alone time to do my most important work without any distractions. I’ve been working on cutting my hours down to get maximum output over the shortest period of time. I also try to take at least a 30-minute break to clear the mind. I’ve done the 16-hour days and it doesn’t work; it ends up being more unproductive.
Breaktime: In the early days, we had a Friday ritual of a team exercise activity - for example, Monika on the team taught a ballet class, which was different. Otherwise I take 30 minutes to myself to clear the mind.
Social media credentials: I’ve reduced my social media consumption quite a bit recently as I found it distracting. Likewise, there is so much noise out there to get your own thoughts heard. Our team mainly focus on writing quality reports and also, we have a lot of videos on YouTube from our events www.youtube.com/uxdxconf .
Onsite or offsite: My job requires travel, which is getting more frequent. Last year we ran half day community events across Europe. We did them back to back which was an experiment - we left Helsinki in the morning, ran an event in Stockholm that day and landed in Copenhagen that night (that day certainly pushed the team!). But it’s very exciting to meet so many people from different countries, all with different constraints, but doing similar work.
Digital strategy/vision: People and companies get bogged down in process and strategy. At UXDX, we try to have our team approach the same as our model of helping product teams speed up delivery. We have a basic principle that any idea or approach we want to take is an assumption, and therefore everything we do to execute is an experiment. So, we are experimenting with new ideas all the time. We build on what works and cut quickly what doesn’t.
Why I Love Mondays: I love Mondays because . . . Monday can be the most positive and optimistic time of the week - irrespective of what happened the previous week, Monday is the day a lot of us wake up and start with a clean slate. We have our goals and we have hope. It’s the day we most likely will eat healthy, be productive, and do exercise. Now we just need to figure out how to make every work-day a Monday…..