Platinion Senior Human Scientist, Pittsburgh - Platinion
At BCG, Innovators view the world from unexpected angles. They bring creativity and a fresh perspective to every challenge they face. Brett goes deep to understand challenges.
I see my path at BCG Platinion as helping to bring a designer and researcher’s mindset to each case team and the broader organization. This expertise is applicable to every problem we solve for our clients.
I came to BCG through a small design consultancy and innovation lab called MAYA Design, which was acquired by BCG. I’m now part of three communities, each with their own forms of expertise: MAYA (digital design and innovation), BCG Platinion (IT implementation and risk management), and BCG (business and management consulting). In addition to providing support on any project, this varied expertise means I’m learning and growing on every case.
As I became part of these communities, the potential impact of my work has multiplied in size. Impact to me as a strategic designer means positive change in organizations and people’s lives. When ideas are founded in design process, technology know-how, and a sound business case, they’re primed for a life beyond the design studio. Nothing is more satisfying as a designer and researcher than seeing your ideas come to life and be useful to others.
Brett holds a technical communications degree and a master’s in interaction design, both from Carnegie Mellon University.
Q: How do you get to utilize your unique skill set within a team?
A: One area where I excel is in understanding people as the basis for design and then translating that understanding to a product or service experience. This usually means starting with observing, interviewing, or otherwise collaborating with stakeholders, including the end user. This understanding gives the rest of my team the confidence to know they’re solving for the right problem and providing an appropriate set of solutions. I then bridge the gap from research to making by putting pencil to paper (or the digital equivalent), and showing how we might design for the people we’ve tried to understand.
Q: How do you maintain a sustainable career balance at BCG?
A: For career balance, I try to work on a variety of projects across sectors, playing a slightly different role in each. I’ve been a design researcher exclusively, a digital designer, and a project manager, to name a few roles. In terms of work-life balance, I try to do the bulk of my work during the day, with some evening work as needed, and I protect my weekends. BCG has this great notion of “team norms”—for every case, BCG encourages you to work with your case team to define your own norms and those of your team, and to explicitly discuss these with your team to align on the best way of working.
Q: What's your office environment like?
A: Messy and collaborative. At MAYA Design, we have a mix of assigned and open seating, meeting rooms (some are circular with floor-to-ceiling whiteboards in a configuration we call a “kiva”), nooks for impromptu meetings, and project spaces for ongoing case-related work. I’ll usually spend a mix of time throughout those spaces on any given day, depending on the type of work I’m doing and people I talk to. Sharpies and sticky notes are probably not far from wherever I am.
Q: How have you benefited from a mentoring relationship at BCG?
A: Coming from academia, I wasn’t sure how to run a consulting project or how to interact with clients. Without consulting experience, it can be easy to get tripped up on simple things like client communication, formality expectations, or how often to show work and the level of fidelity. I learned much of this from watching my mentor (and others) do it, trying it myself, and asking questions.
Q: What does innovation mean to you, and how do you innovate in your role?
A: For me, innovation is a spectrum between meeting a human need in a novel way within existing paradigms on the one side, and structural or systems-level change on the other. It’s not necessarily technological. An example of meeting a need within an existing paradigm is a computer keyboard that lets you press buttons in a more intelligent or convenient way. On the other side, you have things like ride-sharing services that potentially lead to fewer people owning cars, which fundamentally alters an economy as well as daily lives. When I work on a project, I try to think of new ways of solving problems through design on both ends of this spectrum, knowing that we’ll eventually find the best fit for the client.