CV

Professional Summary

I am a Senior UX researcher and writer with a background in industrial design and more than a decade of experience spanning both the public and private sectors in Australia and the international SaaS startup space. An experienced UX researcher, I have successfully led project teams and delivered actionable insights for numerous and diverse research studies in both in-house and client facing environments. As a professional writer, I have been contributing to UX industry industry publications for 6 years and am an active and skilled conference speaker in the global UX community. 

Career Highlights

Keynote speaker with extensive public speaking experience ranging from panel appearances at UX industry events to conference talks delivered to large audiences (400+) both locally and overseas.

Created and co-founded UX advice column UX Agony Aunt with Optimal Workshop in 2015 and appeared onstage at UX New Zealand in that capacity in 2016 and 2017. 

Produced more than 68 high quality technical articles in the last 7 years for UX industry publications including: UX Mastery, Optimal Workshop and SitePoint Premium.

Skills

User Experience (UX)

  • UX research leadership

  • UX writing

  • Information Architecture

  • Brand experience research

  • Content design & strategy

  • Inclusive design

  • Information design

  • Customer journey mapping

  • UX education

  • Storytelling

  • UX practice building

User research skills & methods

  • Discovery research

  • Contextual research

  • Researching other UX researchers

  • Researching enterprise users

  • Qualitative research

  • Interviews

  • Usability testing

  • Card sorting

  • Tree testing

  • Remote user research

  • Surveys

  • Analysis

  • Tailored communication of findings

Diversity & inclusion

  • National and local team leadership

  • Event management

  • Strategic planning and engagement

  • Disability SME and mentor

  • Creative communications

General skills

  • Professional level writing

  • Collaborative team and project leadership

  • Public speaking

  • Research and analysis

  • Mentoring and coaching

  • Remote working

  • Working within multidisciplinary teams in agile environments

  • People and performance management

Professional experience

Senior User Experience Professional / Manager, Synergy Group Australia, July 2019 - Present

Partners with internal and external (mostly government) clients researching, designing and delivering meaningful user experiences. 

  • UX Research Lead on a 6 month engagement at Defence conducting a total of 7 research studies within tight timeframes exploring design opportunities for an internally facing staff system. Successfully delivered actionable UX research insights resulting in significant positive and transformational impacts across a large and complex program of work. 

  • Successfully performed and delivered positively received user research and business analysis work for a large government client. 

  • Performance manager and mentor to other Synergy staff.

  • Fostered and increased UX maturity at Synergy through practical and supportive knowledge sharing and contributed to practice building activities including the firm’s first Graduate Program.

  • Active member of the Synergy Diversity and Inclusivity Committee. Led and organised an event for International Day of People with Disability (IDPWD) 2019 and delivered the keynote.

Senior User Researcher and UX Writer (Contract), Optimal Workshop, Oct 2017 - June 2019

Collaborated remotely with a New Zealand based team leading user research projects and crafting engaging and trusted technical content.  

 

  • Led the scoping, planning, execution, analysis and delivery of a repeatable and iterative research approach to measure brand awareness and perception over time to empower informed decision making.

  • Led the scoping, planning, multifaceted research, delivery and design of a highly detailed customer journey map enabling team and stakeholders to better understand customer experiences and plan future projects.

  • Led a multifaceted research project with both customers and internal staff designed to uncover brand perception to support the development of effective strategic messaging. 

  • Led the discovery research and early information architecture (IA) and taxonomy concept development and testing of future website based educational and support resource.

  • Scoped, planned, wrote and delivered 26 technical blog posts including several research based case studies for a UX industry audience.  

  • Spent all 21 months of this contract engagement researching other UX researchers enabling a deeper understanding of this discipline and how it is applied in other organisations.

  • Functional member of the Optimal Workshop Brand Squad and company-wide user research faculty.

Senior Consultant (UX), PwC Australia, Feb 2016 - Oct 2017

Applied UX research, design and writing skills to deliver better experiences for clients and their users across both the public and private sectors. 

 

  • Collaborated effectively with a diverse range of clients delivering a broad range of UX work including but not limited to: design of instructional and help page content, user research, analysis and sharing of research findings, wireframing, prototyping, UX education and knowledge transfer, UX design work across a large program of work on a complex system with multiple interconnected parts, information architecture (IA) and taxonomy design and customer journey mapping.

User Centred Designer, ATO, Feb 2014 - Nov 2016

Delivered UX research, information architecture and design projects for both internal and external users working with complex systems across multiple areas of this large government department. 

 

  • Led a small team to conduct 143 user interviews within a tight timeframe of 3 weeks for the purposes of developing 14 personas based on internal staff to inform a project to develop a Digital Workplace. Wrote 6 of these personas and worked collaboratively with the project team to refine and deliver all 14. 

  • Led a benchmarking study on the ATO Intranet information architecture (IA) through tree testing. 

  • Designed, developed and facilitated a short course called Writing for Mobile for ATO staff.

  • Facilitated the ATO staff User Centred Design training course in 2014 and 2015. 

Graduate Business Designer, ATO, Feb 2013 - Feb 2014

12 month long immersive graduate development program of two team rotations developing professional skills in: information and content design, facilitation, mobile app design, moderated and unmoderated user research across a wide range of discovery and evaluative methods, information architecture and UX education.

Customer Service Representative: eTax Technical Helpdesk, Telstra, May 2012 - Jul 2012

Front-line customer service role proactively sought to gain firsthand insight into the user experience of a then key ATO product prior to commencing the Graduate Development Program in 2013.

Graphic Designer, CEA Technologies Pty Ltd, Feb 2012 - May 2012

Paid work experience placement undertaken for professional development purposes to broaden skillset.

Volunteer experience

Diversity & Inclusivity Committee Member

Synergy Group Australia 

July 2019 - present

Enabled by Design-athon 2017 Mentor

Remarkable November 2017

Ability@PwC National Lead

PwC Australia

March 2017 - October 2017

Ability@PwC Canberra Lead

PwC Australia

May 2016 - October 2017

Education & memberships

  • Bachelor of Industrial Design, University of Canberra, 2011.

  • ACS Member, 2020.

Professional development

A committed lifelong learner, I complete LinkedIn Learning courses on a weekly basis and have engaged the services of an executive coach since July 2019.

Speaking engagements

I am an experienced public speaker. I have delivered keynote presentations, conference presentations to audiences both large and small, panel appearances, social media Q&A sessions and more. 

Publications

I've been writing professionally since 2014 for various industry publications including Optimal Workshop's blog, UX Mastery and SitePoint Premium. 

I also self-publish a large volume of my work through LinkedIn including a series I started called Quirk Monster where I share lived experience examples of my life as an autistic person. 

ashlea mckay

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© 2020  Ashlea McKay

All views expressed are entirely my own.

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