DSS Alumni Stories – Meet Alec Stewart

We present the alumni Alec– a User Experience Researcher . Discover his career and professional journey!

Where are you from?
Washington D.C., USA

Where are you now?
The Hague, NL

Where do you work?
I work at Backbase! It’s a financial technology company that builds all manner of tools for banks. I specifically work on something called “Digital Engagement” which is a tool bank employees use to engage their customers with through all manners of ‘engagements’ such as marketing campaigns, announcements, and more.

Tell us about your career path.
I began studying User Experience Design at De Haagse Hogeschool during which I did two internships. Both of these positions had a mix of research and design, but I always found myself drawn more to the research side of things. I began pursuing research in earnest after graduation, first working at a video game company called Crytek where I did user research for their gaming engine called CryENGINE, and then ultimately ended up at Backbase.

What are your sources of inspiration?
Nikki Anderson is a big inspiration of mine. Her articles on user research are so clear and helpful, I derive a lot of knowledge from her writings. Jeff Sauro as well is a big inspiration, his writings help me to become more quantitative and standardized in my practice.

How would you describe your time at DSS?
I would describe DSS as a whirlwind of opportunity! It really is a place that gives you ultimate freedom, so the value of your time at DSS is wholly derived from what you put into it. If you push your boundaries, get experimental, and don’t rest on your laurels, amazing things can happen. And you’ll learn a lot.

Is there something in particular that impacted you?
My mentor, Mick Jongeling, who has since moved on from DSS had a huge impact on me. He allowed me and my group total freedom while still providing a lot of guidance, he was a great coach & mentor. Beyond that, my project at DSS was with recently incarcerated people; hearing their stories and struggles is something I still think about today.

What does digital transformation mean to you?
I’ll start by what I think it is not. Digital transformation is not digitalizing and adopting technology for the sake of it. Digital transformation is the incorporation of technology to solve a real challenge that people are actually facing. Too often, organizations look to adopt technology because it’s what everyone is doing. It takes a smart organization to understand their challenges and to first address those.

Any advice to share?
More of what I said earlier – DSS is what you make of it. No one will hold your hand and tell you what to do. You and your team are responsible for your experience. That is a big responsibility, and for some, maybe the wrong kind of environment. Ask yourself: are you willing to take responsibility for your own learning? Are you excited by the prospect of working closely with others each and every day? Do you thrive in a collaborative environment? Do you want to work on unique problems? If these questions pique your curiosity, then DSS could be great fit.

What’s next for you?
I have no huge plans for myself! I’ll get back to work, I’ve got an interview in an hour. I hope to improve my skills as a User Researcher, and become a better storyteller but really who knows what the future holds.

Connect with Alec