Transcript of Interview With Matthew Phillips

Interview With Matthew Phillips

This interview features Matthew Phillips, executive director at J.P. Morgan. You can watch it on Matthew’s profile page.


– Hello again. I’m Joe Welinske, Conference Director for ConveyUX, which will be coming up at the end of February, the last three days. We’re gonna be back in person for the first time in almost four years in Seattle, but we’re continuing to have our online experience as well, which will be synchronous with that. One of the great things I get to do is to talk to all of our speakers before we get to the event, and so right now I am meeting with Matt Phillips. Hello, Matt, how are you today?

– I am very well, good to meet you, Joe. How’re you doing?

– Yeah, very good. It looks like it’s gonna be a decent day here in Bellingham, Washington, which is my home office, couple hours north of Seattle, where Blink has its headquarters. Where are you talking to us from?

– So I am talking to you from a very frosty Henley-upon-Thames, which is about maybe an hour and a half outside London, to the west of London. But yeah, specifically I’m in my garden shed where the heating is on max otherwise I would freeze to death.

– Well, it’s good to have you as part of the program and it’s also great to bring in perspectives from other parts of the world. Probably best place to start is if you could tell us a little bit about your background and the types of work that you’re involved in.

– Sure, so my good design career started as a industrial designer. I did a degree in industrial design and then I graduated almost 25 years ago now into what was then the dotcom boom, and then rapidly turned into the dotcom bubble that then burst. So I’ve been working in, I’ve been working as a designer focused in the digital space for about coming up to 25 years now, which is kind of scary. And in that time I’ve worked at like startups, agencies, and large corporations, and I’ve worked on pretty much every project you can imagine. So we’ve done a lot of advertising stuff, work in agencies. I’ve done a lot of internal communications, some e-commerce work, mobile work, a lot of sort of internal systems. And the last six years I’ve been at JP Morgan, where I’m now design director for markets operations.

– You’re gonna be talking to us on the topic, “Reinventing Operations Transformations.” So why don’t you tell us a little bit about that?

– Sure, so as I mentioned, I work in markets operations, which probably doesn’t mean a lot to many people, but effectively markets operations is responsible for processing all of the transactions done by the trading desks of JP Morgan. Now, while the majority of these processes are automated, there are a small proportion that effectively still require some sort of manual processing. And that manual processing involves someone in the operations team stepping in, logging into a piece of software, checking some data, that sort of thing. And while it’s only a small proportion of our overall trading volume, it actually represents a significant amount of work and at a significant cost to the organization. Now, the role of my team is effectively to reduce that cost. So we are focused on redesigning processes and softwares used by that market operations teams with a role, with a focus on increasing efficiency and eliminating the risk of mistakes. I’ve been working in this space for about three years, and if I’m honest, it is one of the most interesting and challenging places that I’ve ever worked. It’s a great place to be a designer because what I’ve found is that operations teams actually see the world through the same lens that designers do, i.e that of processes or user journeys. And because of this, it means we very often find ourselves talking the same language, which has meant our collaboration has been much more seamless than it has been in many other areas of organizations I’ve worked. And we’ve really been able to deliver value very, very quickly. I wanted to highlight this because I don’t think operations is an area that many designers think about working. Certainly, I’d never really considered it, and I think it’s an area where we can make a really big tangible difference. And what I mean by that is that we can have a significant impact on the users who use our software, but also and importantly, have a really big impact on the business for which we are working for. And that can be a very much a financial impact, which is very easy to measure. So I think, from my experience, it’s been one of the most interesting places to work as a designer. And I really wanted to highlight some of the work we’re doing in this space and how we’re driving transformation. So maybe other designers think about it and think, “Yeah, this could be a really interesting place for me to work.”

– Well, I think it is gonna be a topic that fosters a lot of discussion at the conference, and I think a lot of people are gonna be very interested in hearing what you have to offer. I’m sure there’s a lot of exciting things going on day in, day out. But is there any things that are particularly new and interesting that you might want to share with us about your work?

– So I don’t think we’ll be alone in the fact that everyone’s talking about AI right now. That is very much the subject for every conversation I’m involved in. I think there’s a recognition that AI is gonna change a lot of things, but I think there’s equally a recognition is we don’t know what, and we don’t know how right now. So I think the real challenge I have at the moment is, as an organization, we’re focused on using AI to drive automation. And that raises a very good question. If our focus is purely on automation, what is the role of a user experience team, a user experience design team, and why should we continue investing them? So my real big challenge when I go back to work in January is to spend time working with our businesses to articulate very clearly why it is important to continue investing in that user experience and how it can really drive that automation agenda.

– Well, your topic, as I mentioned, is gonna be in of interest to all of the people at the conference, including our many senior experienced practitioners. We also have a lot of people that are relatively new to the profession that come to the event. You have a tip or a thought for people that are just getting started or just getting involved in leadership roles?

– Yeah, sure. I think, you know, I’ve worked with lots and lots of designers over the years and I think the thing that makes designers, particularly designers, really stand out is their ability to think commercially. Ultimately, design is a tool for delivering against a business’s objective. Now obviously we are, you know, we’re passionate about delivering great experiences and really beautiful pieces of design work, but really we are paid there, we are in an organization to drive change and to actually execute on business, the business objectives. So I think being able to think commercially and think about how the work you are doing is driving that business agenda is fundamental and really, really important.

– Well, thanks for sharing your thought about that. The last thing I wanted to ask you about was books. We have a conference bookstore that is produced by our Seattle local bookstore, Ada’s, and there’s also an online component of that. Are there any books that you might want to recommend to us?

– Yeah, absolutely. I think we talked earlier and you asked if they were current books, and unfortunately they’re very much not, but I think they’re as relevant now as they were when I first read them. So there’s two books by a guy called Paul Arden who’s an advertising executive, and one of them’s called, “It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be.” And the second one is called, “Whatever You Think, Think The Opposite.” And I think they’re great. They’re very small books, but they’re kind of books you can quickly dip into and they just spark a thought or change your perception or something. And, you know, I think they’re a must-have for any designer. You need to have them on your bookshelf.

– Well, thanks for those recommendations. We’ll see if we can get those in the bookstore. And Matt, thanks so much for taking a few minutes to talk with us about your background and your thoughts about your topic in AI and all the rest. So we look forward to seeing you on your visit to Seattle in a couple of months.

– Very excited to be coming over. Really looking forward to the conference.

– All right, thanks a lot, bye-bye.

– Thank you, Joe, bye-bye.