Who says you have to decide between a love of logic and aesthetics? Both disciplines go hand in hand at market research firm Kelton, where designers and researchers work together to communicate with clients and support their initiatives.
We chatted with John Phillips, Associate Director of Design Research at Kelton about the process of translating data into design and the importance of reading and developing your strategic thinking skills.
What is your current job title? If your title has changed since you joined Kelton, what was it when you first joined?
My current title is Associate Director of Design Research. I originally did a Design Research and Strategy internship with Kelton, then was hired full-time as a Senior Analyst of Design Research.
How would you describe your role within Kelton? What does a typical day look like for you?
My role is highly varied from week to week, which is part of what I love. Some days I may be conducting primary research in the field, others I may be interpreting findings and insights into information graphics, visual explorations, or designing a presentation.
What drew you to your current profession? Which skills, education, and experience were necessary to get you there?
I’ve always been interested in product and service design, and during my time at Art Center College of Design I gravitated to the front end of the design process, focusing on research and strategy.
What was your college major? How does it relate to your career path?
I hold a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design, specifically Product Design. The Design Thinking approach I learned and my familiarity with the design process give me a unique perspective in the business/brand consulting world.
How would you describe Kelton? How does it fit within your industry at large?
Kelton started as a boutique market research house, but has grown and evolved into a full-service research, strategy and innovation consultancy. While most of the players in this space—the Frogs, Smarts, and IDEOs of the world—started from the design side and grew into research and strategy, Kelton took the exact opposite path.
What are your favorite things about your job? Which aspects would you change if you could?
I love the variety of tasks and responsibilities, as well as the opportunity to work with and effect change at a host of major brands. Ideally, if I could change anything, I’d like to see Kelton get more work that takes our responsibilities further downstream in the design process.
What advice would you give to college students interested in pursuing a job similar to yours?
Students interested in this career line should do a few things: First, read. Voraciously. There are loads of great publications and books written in the past decade on Design Thinking and the evolving, arguably burgeoning role design (and designers) plays in the business world.
Second, take every opportunity you have in school (courses, your thesis, class and personal/pet projects, attending lectures and conferences, etc.) to develop your strategic thinking skills. When you’re assigned a project, you should ask yourself, “How can I make this more strategic? How can I take this to the next level as a learning opportunity, for no one other than myself?” Not only will this consistently make you better, but people will notice that passion and work ethic.
Homework time! Does John’s job sound interesting to you? If so, spend some time researching Design Thinking and trying to apply the concepts to your school projects and hobbies.
P.S. Want to learn more about Kelton and the types of jobs they have there? Check out this post.