Combining his passion for human-centred design with an interest in business practice has delivered the perfect role for this Curtin alumnus.
Commerce graduate Jonathan Steingiesser now heads the design team of one of the largest technology startups in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
But it isn’t the career he envisaged clearly during high school.
“I loved computers from a young age. At school, my friends and I were all doing computing, and I planned to study computer science at Curtin,” he says.
“But during my degree I had the opportunity to study photography at Curtin’s School of Design and Art. I realised I had a creative side I needed to fuel.”
Deciding that he needed to understand business holistically – not just the computing side – Jonathan transferred to Curtin Business School, where he studied the various aspects of business while still focusing on IT and electronic commerce.
He says the ‘real-world’ project collaborations in his final year were stand-out experiences.
“In one project we helped a Perth supply-chain consultancy use technology to streamline communication between all parties required to import rice from Thailand.
“At the time I didn’t know it, but that project would be the start of my future career in customer journey mapping and human-centred design.”
UX design: from Thai rice to Dubai property
He now leads the Design team at Property Finder, one of the biggest property portals in the MENA region, headquartered in Dubai.
“My team helps create the products and services for clients, but I also work in a close partnership with our product management, growth, data and engineering teams to deliver ambitious growth plans.
“I love the diversity of my team in Dubai – it includes people from every continent on Earth. And I love the international aspects of my work, finding that product–market fit across the Middle East and North Africa.”
Prior to Property Finder, Jonathan worked at New York University Abu Dhabi, where he established UX research design as the first stage of web and mobile application developments. He also worked as one of the design managers at MYOB in Melbourne.
“The mission of every designer is to create meaningful impact through changing their organisations to both value and make decisions based on customer research. This starts with a shared vision by a design team that includes evidence-based research through facetime with customers.”
“When I joined MYOB there were nine designers across Australia and New Zealand. When I left three years later, there were 40 designers, and I had a great experience in helping mature design thinking and practice throughout the organisation.”
Looking back to Curtin
Although he’s loving work life, Jonathan has very happy memories of his student days.
“I loved campus life. Many of my friends attended Curtin and I made new friends quickly. The diversity of the student population is great.
“I played in the Curtin Football Team that qualified for the Australian University Games held in Ballarat in 2000 and then in Sydney in 2001. We also won the WA Indoor Football competition.”
Apart from gaining a holistic understanding of how business operates, Jonathan says that at Curtin he gained a real appreciation of diversity and teamwork.
“Some of my most memorable moments of being a Curtin student were the practical experiences and group assignments. Collaborating to achieve the best outcome possible was something I really enjoyed.
“Those skills still fuel my ambition to build design capability in all aspects of an organisation.”
Supporting that enthusiasm for his work is his commitment to the evolution of design practice itself. He’s founded meetup groups in Australia and UAE and has established the organisation, Human Centred Design UAE.
“Sharing best practice is a great way to mentor and create a knowledge-sharing community.”
Jonathan is always open to mentoring or giving advice to anyone interested in a career in human-centred design. You can reach out to Jonathan on LinkedIn.