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Academy Xi Blog

FinTech FrankieOne Fuel their Talent Pipeline

By Academy Xi

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“You need to be innovative in every area of your business – and talent acquisition is no exception” – Simon Costello, Co-Founder and CEO, FrankieOne

Simon Costello, whose onboarding and fraud-prevention platform FrankieOne attracts some of the best emerging tech talent, acknowledges the increasing need to draw in early-stage digital professionals. In a very tight digital and tech talent market, Costello believes that it is critical to build frameworks for junior talent to learn, develop and succeed.

For a fast-growing business like FrankieOne, having the right people is imperative. The past 18 months has seen the business bring on nearly 100 new clients across banking and fintechs, including the likes of Westpac and Afterpay, as well as various hyper-scaling international cryptocurrency companies and neobanks. Their recent Series A funding attracted $20 million and with new offices springing up internationally, their team will be on the hunt again for the right talent. In particular, Costello is on the lookout for more junior graduates who have the right blend of curiosity and technical know-how to support their broader business talent pipeline.

With Australia expected to need 6.5 million newly skilled and reskilled technology workers by 2025 (Amazon Web Services, 2021), many businesses are becoming more tactical with the who and why of hiring staff. One common obstacle the digital skills shortage presents is the inability to secure experienced mid-senior digital personnel. Hiring experienced people is becoming increasingly challenging, as demand for digital talent continues to rise beyond the supply of skilled people.

It was in this context that Simon pursued a previously unexplored pathway – recruiting new graduate talent. When searching for a UX Designer to join the team, he came across Jerry Tian, a recent graduate of Academy Xi’s UX UI Design Transform course. Given that customer experience is at the very heart of the FrankieOne brand, finding the right designer was an important decision.

“After landing on Jerry in the recruitment process, he came in to work with us for a week for a paid trial. It was evident by the end of the first day that we wanted to have Jerry on board… That ended up being a fantastic decision.” – Simon Costello, Co-Founder and CEO, FrankieOne.

Jerry quickly stepped into the role, excelled and has taken ownership despite only having been with the company less than 9 months. “He has now become almost a Product Owner in one particular area”, Simon reports. “[His role] requires a combination of technical know-how and deep understanding of the customer.

Jerry himself is pleased with the professional progress he has made since starting with FrankieOne. Although regarded as a junior initially, he felt well equipped to make the transition from his Academy Xi course into the real world.

“Whilst working on one of the client projects as part of the Academy Xi Transform course, I had the opportunity to work with the client’s development team. It gave me valuable experience because, every day here at FrankieOne, I am working with developers, business analysts, product owners, product managers etc. It’s a team effort to get the kinds of products we create off the ground” – Jerry Tian, Product (UX/UI) Designer, FrankieOne.

His advice to anyone looking to start a career in UX UI Design is to consider what kind of company they see themselves being a part of. Jerry observes “agile start-ups, corporates, government – they all have very different ways of operating … my current role now goes beyond what a UX UI Designer does – which is great because you get to learn and do a variety of tasks.”

As the technology skills gap continues to widen, those businesses that are creative and adaptable will drive their businesses forward. But the landscape is complex, with many factors in play, including skills shortages, digital transformation, disrupted business models and changing worker expectations.

Academy Xi Co-CEO Vincent Creighton acknowledges that the digital skills challenge, accelerated by COVID, has forced organisations to consider alternative approaches to securing, training and retaining critical digital talent.

“Jerry’s success story with FrankieOne is an excellent example of what motivates the Academy Xi team to continue supporting and enabling Australians to transition into digital careers successfully with great businesses like FrankieOne.”  – Vincent Creighton, Co-CEO, Academy Xi.

“Unsurprisingly, Academy Xi is experiencing an unprecedented demand for graduate talent and training programs that enable organisations to thrive in an increasingly digital world and attract and retain digital talent in a competitive market.”, he continues.

Businesses like FrankieOne will likely continue to work with recruiters. However, they may also choose to explore internal employee training programs and external talent pipeline initiatives to understand how they can access the best graduate pools. The environment we are currently working within is serving as an ongoing lesson in the benefits of agile talent management.

“Hiring Jerry has certainly changed our perception on hiring a junior straight out of a UX & UI course. We actually have a lot of senior individuals at FrankieOne but from the experience with Academy Xi, we are open to taking on more individuals out of Academy Xi to fuel our talent pipeline.” – Simon Costello, Co-Founder and CEO, FrankieOne.

If your business is struggling to plug the digital skills gaps, Academy Xi is here to help. See how we’ve helped organisations transform their workforce, source exceptional external talent and get priority access to people with exceptional skills working in design, tech, data, business and digital solutions. Get in touch with us today.

Academy Xi Webinars

Design maturity: How to get there

By Academy Xi

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Join our panel of digital experts as we discuss tips on how you can lead your business towards becoming design-led.

Panellists:

  • Anthony Currenti – UX Lead, Catch.com.au
  • Gowri Penkar – Service Design Lead, Carsales
  • Vida Asrina – Head of Experience Design, Endeavour X (Endeavour Group Limited)

In this webinar you will learn:

  • Tips for leading design-led change
  • What common barriers stand in the way
  • What helps management to ‘buy-in’ to design-led projects, processes and change
  • Why, from a designers perspective, design maturity is often about unlearning what they know
Want to keep up to date with the latest webinars from Academy Xi? Follow us here on LinkedIn.

Academy Xi Blog

Student Spotlight: Julie Dal Santo

By Academy Xi

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After working for years in Human Resources, Julie was looking for something new to study to reclaim her ‘professional mojo’. Little did Julie know at the time, but training in User Experience Design was going to lead to her leaving her profession and starting up her own successful enterprise. 

What was happening for you before studying at Xi? What made you decide to sign up?

At the time, I had been working for about six years in my HR role, had two babies while working there and had loved it. Then there was a leadership change at work and an evolution across Human Resources in terms of employee experience, which I found really interesting. The human element really resonated with me: the connection and feeling, instead of it being just a transactional cyclical process. 

I had started to feel that lull in my career moment. I’m a big advocate for continuous learning and improvement and for not necessarily sticking to a linear approach. When we hear and learn from different perspectives we can broaden our own thinking, and spark creativity. So with that in mind, one of my incredible mentors and I workshopped a couple of areas I might be interested in learning more about. She was the first person to actually mention User Experience (UX) Design and Academy Xi, and had heard that it was well regarded and took a more innovative approach in terms of being practical and industry-led compared to a lot of other training options on the market. Xi put more focus on the skills and knowledge required on the job and was more relevant to the wider industry.

I looked around and did some of my own research. Looking at what Xi was offering, I really loved the principles of UX Design. What resonated the most was the project in terms of setting a problem statement and then looking at the practical sense of solving the problem – but with a focus on the human element of that journey. 

So I signed up to UX UI Design Elevate. I had just fallen pregnant with my third child at the time and work got really busy. The flexibility that Xi gave in terms of course start dates and the training itself made it easier to find a way to make it happen. 

What was your course experience like?

I was 25 weeks pregnant and working 4 days a week when I started the course. It was crazy but really energising. It was a challenge and if it was easy, everyone would do these things. But it aligned with my values, it was great. 

There were about 12-15 of us in our cohort and what kept me going was our two instructors, Berlin and Pedro. They were working in the field and had very practical, tangible advice. Their love and passion and interest in teaching really shone through. The course content was amazing, but to also be taught by people who are really passionate about what they do, it’s their bread and butter, it really just pushes you along. 

I’m not from a tech background and they opened my eyes. The support that they gave and the way they went about their teaching was extremely engaging and made it really enjoyable. They were both incredible. Very generous with their time. When people really know their subject matter intimately, they’re able to truly break it down and simplify it. It was a wonderful experience.

Can you recall any highlights within the training or content?

The user testing session we ran. I was really skeptical initially. It’s a good reminder – asking people and letting people talk uninterrupted instead of making assumptions. 

We had completed our prototype and then had to sit down and do user testing. Everyone brought a friend and we gave them our spiel and the instructions.  They then went through the prototype process, pressing the buttons, navigating what we had designed. 

I thought my product was great and it made complete sense.  I’d spoken to like minded people, they were all on board. Then there was this wave of phenomenal feedback from the user testing session! I’ve incorporated and held on to that even after the business has launched – I still go back and look over some of that feedback. 

As humans, we tend to assume that people either know something or have a similar experience to ourselves, and that we’ve thought of everything. We look for confirmation bias and we like being right, but the power of observation is so important – just ask the question and don’t interrupt.

Did you work on a real-life project within your training?

We could come up with our own personal problem statement that could be the basis for our project and prototype. For me, at the time, I was mulling over three different problems and I wanted to make sure that it was real life and practical. I chose a performance review process and my problem statement was:

 How might we empower employees to own and drive their lifetime career performance, feedback and development so that they are not constrained by organisational processes, timing and data management?”. 

Performance review is a process that many people have gone through across different organisations. So many people put so much effort into preparing for these conversations and getting some kind of rating as a result. All of that information goes somewhere – and it might not be recalled or ever used again. 

How do we empower them? I wanted to build a solution that would address that.

And that was the catalyst for your business, My Career Capital?

Yes. The problem statement I came up with for the project within my course has grown. I presented it at the end of the ten week training to a panel and there was a lady from a recruitment agency who commented on it, said it was a wonderful idea and product and then just before I had my baby I caught up with a few people and told them what I had been working on in the course and they were really supportive. They said that they loved the concept.

By this point, after the course, my focus was having my baby. About six months later I started having conversations about the idea again. At that point I wasn’t certain if I would be returning to my HR role either. 

We are more than our jobs – the moment you start identifying as being your job, that can be problematic in a number of ways. I think once you learn new things and have different experiences, it broadens your view of what is possible and expands the value you can add. I wanted to explore a little bit more. I began reconnecting and nurturing some of my network relationships and they really encouraged me to pursue this as well. So it started from the project at Academy Xi and it has now turned into a startup business. 

Can you give us an overview of what My Career Capital is about?

My Career Capital is a one-stop, all-inclusive platform to help you design, manage and grow your career, your way. 

The essence of what we do is giving individuals (all types of workers) and employers practical, tangible tools to build their know-how around managing themselves and their career capital. This is transformational and critical for one to navigate the future of work. 

How do we do it? It’s where users create, use and own an innovative personalised digital portfolio of their career capital to enhance employment outcomes and career potential. It can help them achieve their career potential and boost their success and fulfilment throughout their career. 

The biggest change in mindset within the current world of work we live in, is a push for individuals to take ownership of themselves and their career.

New research is showing the patterns of how people are career shifting – not necessarily staying within the same industries or organisations longer term but actually moving on every three to seven years. That’s huge for those just coming out of university at the moment, at the early stage of their career, having to continue to evolve. 

The ability for those early in their careers to navigate those transitions is all about learning how to manage themselves and their portfolio, so they can manage their transition more seamlessly, whether it’s a promotion they’re going for or a change in direction.

Research is also showing that if you want to be at the top of your game and be an industry leader, you need to be doing five hours of learning a week. It’s 2-3 hours just to stay relevant. Being active in our learning and knowing ourselves intimately can help us to navigate opportunities and challenges effectively.

Did you plan to start a business before training in UX?

Not at all. I came to study UX purely to get my mojo back, to immerse myself in something really interesting that would complement the skills I already had, but also to move me further along professionally. 

My mentor at the time was external to where I was working – which is really important to have someone outside of your work environment, to encourage diversity in thinking. I had no idea training in UX would result in me starting my own business. If someone had suggested that to me back then I wouldn’t have believed it and probably would’ve thought it was insane to even consider it. 

When you have the perspective and you can be the observer of yourself, you can make decisions that are more aligned with your values and therefore you have a higher sense of satisfaction and fulfilment. And that’s what has happened for me in studying UX Design and starting My Career Capital.

The brilliant thing with UX, is that it’s not job title or industry specific. This is where we need to break down those barriers. It didn’t matter that I was an HR professional without a tech background. The process is still the same, it’s how you go about applying it, that’s the beauty and the richness in the learning and what I found to be so interesting. 

Would you recommend studying UX Design?

The theme that is coming through is that a stronger human approach is needed, putting the human connection back into the processes many industries run. Human Resources for one, or any organisation working with people such as the legal industry or community projects, any role or industry that interacts with responsibility and accountability, I can’t advocate enough how important studying UX is. 

This process places you as an observer. You’re not making decisions all the time from your perspective. The process is very organic and pushes people to approach tasks and problems with more creativity. 

Feeling inspired yet? We are. Explore further the 5 reasons to invest in upskilling

If you think you might benefit from learning something new to help you in your role or side hustle, check out our range of Business, Design and Tech courses

Visit My Career Capital’s website and follow them on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Academy Xi Blog

Student Spotlight: Berlin Liew

By Academy Xi

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Being introduced to UX design was a defining moment for Berlin; one that changed her career path and set her on a journey of self discovery. Berlin spoke with us about her experience studying UX Design and her ongoing passion for mentoring.

What was happening in your life before Xi?

I worked in digital advertising as a media buyer for 6-7 years. A manager from a previous life had met up with the user experience design team at AGL and she got in touch with me as she thought that I would really like the industry. She said ‘I think it lends itself as a discipline to your skills and if you haven’t already looked into it, I really think that you should’. And for me that sparked a whole journey of self discovery and finding out what UX was – at that point I didn’t know anything about it. It was just an acronym to me. So that’s how it started.

I studied UX Elevate in 2018.

UX is just an acronym for many people. In your own words, how would you describe UX?

I haven’t quite nailed it yet, which I think speaks for itself. There’s not one definition of what UX is and it depends on who I am speaking to as to how much I break it down, but a go to description of what it is: ‘helping digital experiences feel less clunky, more user-friendly and intuitive based on the customers’ needs, but also balancing what the business’ needs are and what tech can build’

I think that’s the best explanation I can give – otherwise it can lend itself to terms that the public may not understand. I don’t think my definition is perfect, but I think it can explain to others what I do.

Can you tell us about your experience of studying at Xi?

I completed my training in-house in Melbourne part-time, with classes twice a week after work. It was sometimes pretty tough balancing study and working full time. I was working at an agency back then, servicing NAB as our client, that alone was quite time-consuming. I was very busy so it was challenging and I did my work on weekends. 

The more I studied UX, the more I fell in love with it and I soon had the goal to switch careers into the UX field. I pushed myself to work harder to achieve that outcome for myself. Regardless of how busy work got, I found the time to make the balance between study and my job work out. It was an intense few months for me because I couldn’t let the ball drop at work and I really didn’t want to waste the Xi opportunity either.

Did the training enable you to achieve your goal?

Yes, but not at my existing workplace. In advertising as a media planner and buyer, it’s very numerical and quantitative. That environment is a great training ground for spotting trends, data analytics and stakeholder management, all of which I took on board when I moved into UX. What the course taught me was how to dig in deep to understand user needs, pain points, and then communicating that to a wider business. More of a customer focus. So the qualitative side of research and how you can translate it to any product or service you might be building. That mindset, I found, wasn’t always aligned in the advertising space. I felt if I wanted to switch careers into UX I would need to work elsewhere to make that happen.

The course helped solidify terminology, the process, and it exposed me to a lot of thinking that I perhaps wouldn’t have gathered on my own. That’s my learning style – I like being guided and I love the classroom experience when you don’t know anything about the topic. I loved studying UX, big time.

What did you do after your training?

About 5-6 months after finishing my course, I left the agency and then moved over to work in-house with NAB as an Experience Designer. They were one of the only companies at the time in 2018 that were hiring juniors, or people with less than two years’ experience in UX, so I jumped at the chance. Those opportunities were hard to come by then, they were very scarce in 2018. It just so happened I was familiar with them from my previous work.

Did you feel the training at Xi enabled that to happen?

I used what I learned in the training to get through the interview process. NAB asked for a design challenge to be completed. Had I not done the training, I’m honestly not sure I could have responded to that design brief. I basically had to reflect on what I had learnt and put it into a real-life context in this interview process. 

I didn’t have specific UX experience, but I could show that I was passionate and my existing skills transferred well with my training. I interviewed that morning and got a call that afternoon to learn I had landed the job. I think it was one of the best days of my life. It was such a tough transition, but I did it. Really the start of a whole new journey.

Where are you working now?

I was at NAB for about 8 months, then I left for a Telecommunications company called Belong. An opportunity opened up there and it was too good to pass on. Despite me moving companies, I left on good terms with my team at NAB. I stayed at Belong for a year and a half, and then moved onto Xero, which is where I’m at now as a Product Designer.

Was there a particular training highlight for you at Xi?

I was one of the earlier intakes of students for UX training. Back then, I think I was most excited by what I was learning. It was a whole space that was new to me. It opened my mind to a totally new way of looking at problems. The course content was delivered in a way that was consumable, it wasn’t too overwhelming and I truly loved it. I lapped it up! 

How did you find changing careers?

I think changing careers can be a very vulnerable time. It’s hard to explain or describe to someone. It can be a scary feeling to look at what you do and realise it’s not what you want and to make that call to change it. For those who define a lot of their identity with their work particularly that can be quite confronting. Taking a course is an investment, with no guarantee of what that will provide.

Xi provided great support during that transition, as did the mentors that I had while I was studying. I still keep in touch with them today, in fact I spoke to mine just a few days ago. This experience encouraged me to become a mentor myself.

Can you tell us about your mentoring experience?

About 6 months after I completed my training and was working in-house with NAB, I received a request to mentor for the same UX Design Elevate course at Xi. It was one of three mentoring experiences I had with Academy Xi. I think mentoring is really powerful. I’m still in touch with the first course I mentored, we got together for dinner recently. 

How has mentoring benefited you?

Mentoring challenges me to be extremely self-aware of what my own philosophy and opinions are. It encourages me to ask myself how I want to grow the next generation of designers, and consider what I did not have when I was breaking into the industry and what could be beneficial to others. I have been a part of the Xi Designer-in-Residence program since it started. I’m currently taking a break to give other budding designers an opportunity to mentor – I highly recommend it.

Looking at your career now, what aspect do you most enjoy?

I studied linguistics at uni and loved it – the study of language and how it works in society. I was told that if I wanted a career in this back in 2012 that it would have to be in academia and I didn’t want to work in academia. It’s very niche. Or I could do a masters in speech pathology; I didn’t want that either. 

The milestone for me during the study at Xi were the weeks where we looked into research to understand the benefits of talking to customers – actual interactions to discover their needs, wants and pain points and then translating that into something that you can use. That was similar to what I did in linguistics. Going out into the field, collating your findings, and writing your recommendations. It was an amazing moment for me because I could see that those same skills, that I had learned and loved, could be applied in a commercial sense. It was really exciting. 

I had filed that in my mind as something from my past that couldn’t be applied to a business setting. And now I can and I love that. A big moment of self-actualization that something I love could be a big part of what I do for a living. 

What would you say to anyone considering a career change into UX?

I would first ask myself:

  • What are the reasons for pursuing the change? 
  • What draws you into UX?

You need to listen to your own needs, not just jump because it’s a thriving industry or area to work in. Then you need to figure out how you want to get there. If you’re already working in-house, what are the chances you can explore UX within your organisation? Look for opportunities for a secondment or to shadow someone in the UX team. 

For those who don’t have the chance to explore in-house options, training with Academy Xi  is a great way to get the support and knowledge you need to be great in the job.

That place that I worked at at the time (in the agency) didn’t have an experienced design team. Because self-learning isn’t my strong suit, I knew that I’d benefit strongly from structured learning. Hence the course suited me very well. A pro of doing a course is that it is structured: there is a flow and you’re not always trying to work out what you need to learn next.

What is even better than the content at Academy Xi is their community. Xi strongly believes in support, so they’ve created the Designers-in-Residence program for that purpose, to connect full-time students to mentors. There’s also the alumni community, where you can connect with Xi alumni in the industry. That’s a huge factor with doing a course – getting access to those networks.

“I think what Xi offers as an education institution is amazing. I think they’re very attuned to the current needs and pain points of students and it is forever evolving based on that. To make a career change takes a big commitment, it’s not just about choosing the right training – you have to make sacrifices and it’s hard work. If you’re ready to do just that, I highly recommend Academy Xi.”- Berlin Liew