Academy Xi Blog

Student Spotlight: Ben McCarthy

By Academy Xi

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As a Multimedia Producer at Melbourne’s Fed Square, Ben decided to upskill in CX and give the venue’s visitors experiences they’ll never forget.

After climbing the ranks in broadcasting, Ben landed a role as multimedia producer at Fed Square. Find out how the Customer Experience: Elevate course is helping Ben plan events that are bringing a buzz to one of Melbourne’s most loved venues.   

Can you tell us about your career before Academy Xi?

I have a Bachelor of Science degree in film production technology from Staffordshire University in the UK. I moved to Australia after I graduated and started my career in media management with a small broadcasting company. A few years later I landed a television programming role with Viacom, where I worked with several of the company’s brands, including Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and MTV.

In 2018 I moved to Melbourne and began working for Fed Square as a multimedia producer. Fed Square is a venue for arts, culture and public events on the edge of the Melbourne CBD. In recent years, Fed Square has started to focus more closely on the strategies underpinning the organisation of its events.

These days, Customer Experience is at the heart of everything Fed Square does, to the extent that our ledger department is called CX CIO. With the company culture shifting toward CX, I felt it was the right time for me to upskill. I wanted to broaden my knowledge and make sure that my skill-set aligned with the direction the industry was heading in.

I started researching CX training and the Academy Xi course really stood out, mostly for its emphasis on Human-Centred Design. I spoke to your sales team and they were really helpful in answering all my questions, while all the content the course would cover was very clearly laid out online.

Finally, I read testimonials from ex-students and discovered what they’d gone on to achieve in the industry. Ultimately, the whole package seemed very convincing and I decided to enrol.

What were your highlights of the course?

I really enjoyed the live sessions, which were not only informative, but also a lot of fun. It was lovely to get to know people from different parts of Australia, who were involved in all kinds of industries.

The class had people working in a range of fields, from human resources to local government, and the variety of input really brought everything we were learning to life. The course gives you the principles of CX and then you apply that framework to whatever industry you’re involved in. It was really insightful to see just how flexible CX is and how it can be used effectively in a range of different contexts. A lot of my inspiration for how I would use CX with Fed Square came from seeing how my classmates were applying it in their industries.

I also really appreciated that everything we were learning was completely practical. After the live workshop sessions, the assignments gave me a chance to mobilise what I’d learned.

For my personal project, I worked on a brief for Fed Square. I lead the multimedia department and decided to look at our events through a lens of CX. Fed Square uses a lot of outdoor screens, which are distributed throughout the plaza. My personal project gave me a chance to explore future-state possibilities, whereby the screens could play a bigger role in guiding the experience of our visitors. I looked closely at all of Fed Square’s multimedia infrastructure to understand if it was being used to facilitate the best possible CX. What pleased me most about the course was that I was able to put everything I was learning into practice in my role straight away.

How did you find studying online?

Even though the live sessions were carried out online, they were still really interactive and engaging. I looked forward to them all week. In fact, the whole course was very nicely set up as an online experience. It helped that the class had its own Slack channel, which made it easy for everyone to stay connected and share ideas and resources.

There was a period in the course when I was on leave and travelled to Sydney. Because of the flexibility of Academy Xi’s online learning system, I was able to be away from home, keep track of the content and still study with minimal disruption.

Being a video gamer, I also appreciated the gamification of all the modules. It meant I was able to keep an eye on everybody else’s scores and do my best to beat them, which I think really speaks to my competitive nature!

How did you find balancing the course with your current role?

Truthfully, it was quite challenging to begin with. In Melbourne, we were in the midst of reactivating the CBD. This included a big push to revitalise the city’s public events, which Fed Square is heavily involved in. When I started the course it was a very busy time with Fed Square, so for the first couple of weeks I was having to find ways to juggle my study and work. Over a period of time, I was able to find a nice balance of the two, and even set aside a bit of free time on the weekends. 

It was helpful that the course mentor, David, was upfront about the workload and set realistic expectations for the whole cohort, explaining that the course required a good amount of effort. It was a classic case of “the more you put in, the more you’ll get out”.

When I handed in the final assignment, I had a huge sense of achievement. The fact that I’d completed the course and managed to hold down all my life’s other responsibilities just added to the accomplishment.

Ben McCarthy

How did you find working with David?

I had a great relationship with David. I found him very approachable and always had a direct line to him via the course Slack channel, which meant I was able to clear up any questions I had as they cropped up. My one-on-one mentoring sessions were really insightful and helped guide my projects. I booked a session with David just as I was preparing the presentation for my CX strategy. He was able to give me feedback that tweaked my strategy and improved the presentation I gave to the cohort.

I appreciated that David made such a big effort to listen to all of the students. He took the time to understand our projects, what we were trying to achieve and what the different touch points were, before helping us fine tune our strategies.

The advice David gave us was unique to our projects, and he didn’t just dictate what good CX should be. Even in the live classes, he kept everyone engaged and involved, which made the whole course experience feel very personal.

Ben McCarthy

Do you have any plans for further training?

At the moment, I’m very much focused on applying the principles of CX in my role. I want to make sure that any Fed Square objectives I’m involved in are strategically driven by CX, which should raise our capabilities and help our programs give the best possible experiences. Since completing the course, I feel like I’ve got the skills and confidence to guide the CX process and lead a project to the right outcomes. This means I’m able to add value for our visitors, and add value to the organisation as a whole.

I’d love to take another course, but I’m getting married in November, meaning the rest of the year will be quite busy. By the start of 2023 I should have the time to take on another course. I’m interested in the possibilities of Service Design, which extends very naturally from CX and is really tuned in to what I see myself doing in the future at Fed Square.

Would you recommend Academy Xi?

Without a doubt – I already have! I’ve got some friends who’ve expressed an interest in taking digital skills courses and I was very quick to recommend Academy Xi.

Before the CX course started, I was a little apprehensive to find out what the quality of the content would be, if the mentor would be a good fit, and, ultimately, whether or not I would get value for my money. In the end, the whole course experience was wonderful.

When I do have a chance to enrol in a Service Design course, there’s a good chance I’ll return to Academy Xi, which is definitely something to look forward to in the future.   

If you’re keen to bring the possibilities of CX to your career just like Ben, check out our Customer Experience: Elevate courses.

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