After 20 years working in the design industry, Cilla decided to deepen her problem-solving skills by connecting with the customer and enrolling into the Service Design: Elevate course.

Can you tell us about your career history?

I have a degree in fine art, but moved into design. I’ve been working in design for about 20 years now. It’s a great industry, but as is the case with all creative industries, it’s constantly evolving and changing. I feel it’s important to look outside your own industry for inspiration; I completed an interior design course a few years back, but it had been a while since I’d learned something new. I like to add new dimensions to my skillset as often as possible.

Service Design appealed to me because of the emphasis on problem-solving. I really wanted to take my problem-solving skills to the next level. I didn’t know much about Service Design at first, so I did some research online, spoke to a few people and watched some YouTube videos. I quickly realised that Service Design isn’t just about reading briefs and brainstorming solutions. Instead, it adopts a human-centric approach, connects with the customer and gets to the root of the problem. The whole process really resonated with me.  

Why did you choose Academy Xi specifically?

I did look at a few other courses, but what really stood out was that Academy Xi offered the flexibility of self-paced learning. Without that level of flexibility, completing the course just wouldn’t have been possible. I work full-time and have a pretty hectic schedule, so knowing I had six months up my sleeve to work through the content at my own pace was really the deciding factor.

What were the highlights of the course?

First and foremost, getting to grips with a whole range of new tools. It’s been really empowering to add those to my arsenal. From a problem-solving standpoint, the biggest advantage has been learning how to break down a problem and really get to the heart of the matter. 

The course also helped me appreciate the value of thinking even more carefully about the customer during the design process. That’s something you always do, but the course was a nice reminder of why it’s important. Regardless of what industry you work in and how you use that process, it’s always going to be extremely useful.

How did you find studying a self-paced course?

I’ve completed online courses in the past, but they were traditionally structured and involved set classes and deadlines, which definitely increased the pressure. With the self-paced course, I enjoyed having the freedom to manage my own cadence and workload.

Studying alone could have easily been a negative, but I managed to turn it into a positive. Ultimately, I made the structure work for me. There was an option to connect with other students and staff, but I’m actually a bit of an introvert! I mostly worked through the course content independently, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. 

Rather than relying on someone else to guide me or falling back on their knowledge, I had to figure things out for myself. I sense-checked my own ideas and decided for myself if I’d done something properly and met the criteria. I drove the whole process alone, which was challenging and could have been a setback, but it turned out to be something I benefited from.

How did you find the workload?

Even though it was self-paced, it was still pretty intense. I probably put in more effort than I needed to. Truthfully, I could have dedicated half the amount of time and still got a decent result, but that’s just not how I work. 

I figure if you’re going to commit, it’s best to go all in. In the end, you’ll get back what you put in. I tried to really engage with the content and make sure I got maximum value from the course.

What personal project did you work on?

I’m a really big fan of IGA and put together my own brief for the company. The idea for the brief came about quite organically. I noticed that Milk Run, Volley and a lot of the rapid grocery delivery apps were gaining in popularity throughout Australia. I wanted to establish if there’s a way that IGA can enter into that market. My project laid out a Service Design proposal for IGA to launch its own version of a rapid grocery delivery service. 

Did you benefit from having access to your course expert?

Absolutely, he was very helpful and gave me loads of encouragement. Because I was working alone, I had nothing to compare my work to. Whether it’s positive or negative, getting feedback is so important. 

It was really useful to reach out to my course expert and gauge if I was grasping the course content that'd been put in front of me. He reinforced that I was on the right track and gave me some great tips on how to improve my work.

Also, we spoke about the processes and tools I was using for my project. If I had any issues, he helped me resolve those. We discussed the project itself, but mostly at a high level. I was comfortable working through the brief by myself.

What advice would you give to a prospective student?

If you’re studying self-paced, I think it’s pretty important that you’re disciplined. I’m very good at setting my own deadlines and holding myself to them. When you’re studying self-paced, being able to maintain your own schedule and progress is vital.   

If you’re the kind of person who needs constant interaction and feedback, self-paced might not be the best format for you. There is a chat function for the students, but how much engagement you get from that will depend on how vocal the students are. Nobody’s forced to interact. If you want high levels of interaction, the cohort-based option would probably be a better fit. If you’re somebody who thrives working independently, self-paced will probably work nicely.  

What are your plans for the future?

In terms of using what I’ve learned in Service Design, I plan to apply what I have learned in my role for my current clients. At some stage further down the track there’s a good chance I’ll look to expand my skills and take another course. Work is keeping me busy for now, so I’ll take a break and focus on that. That said, it’s important to keep on pushing yourself and flexing those thinking muscles! I’m sure I’ll be taking another course in the not too distant future. 

If you’re ready to redefine your resume and pick up an exciting new skillset just like Cilla, check out our Service Design courses.

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