users image
Holly Kennedy
Aug. 28, 2020

A drawing of the New Bridge over the River Tyne at Newcastle

Image: A drawing of the New Bridge over the River Tyne at Newcastle

Hi, I’m Holly Kennedy and I’ve just finished my first month as Design Lead at Difrent.

I could write a whole blog about my first few weeks and how:

• Everyone has been very welcoming and helpful

• Even as a remote-first business, the collaborative and friendly culture is palpable

• I’m already deeply embedded in our service delivery and business change teams, helping to craft our new bid work and our service design methodology

But what I’d like to talk about is why I decided to join Difrent in the first place, and why they stood out to me.

I never saw myself as a designer…

After completing a Psychology degree at Northumbria University I started out in client services in the digital agency world. This quickly developed my commercial understanding, through business development and stakeholder management, and a solid grounding in the disciplines that make up the delivery of digital products and services.

I had never heard of ‘user experience’ and certainly never saw myself as a designer.

But once I fully understood what that team did, which was all based on evidence, empathy, analysis and problem-solving, I realised that was my tribe.

I spent evenings and weekends retraining through books, online courses, and practice projects and landed a job as a UX Designer.

Then my digital career really took off.

For the next 5 years I had the opportunity to lead and work on experience and service design projects across the public and private sectors, for the likes of the BBC, FSCS, HMRC, College of Policing and several local authorities.

A passion for people

Fast forward to this year.

When I decided to look for my next professional challenge, top of my list was to find a digital business that puts people at the heart of its own organisation as well as the work for its clients.

Somewhere I could put my passion and experience in service design, user research and user experience to good use.

At Difrent we focus on championing the power and values of people, alongside expert technology solutions. We use this passion to help the public sector deliver change by being the partner who really understands them, through domain expertise, collaboration, and energy.

Our mantra for service delivery solutions for our partners is to always build around user needs.

We do this through ensuring our design decisions are grounded in evidence from research and data, and by co-creating solutions with service users and subject matter experts.

Our multidisciplinary teams, including Service Designers, User Researchers, Content Designers, Interaction Designers and Business Analysts, are highly skilled at identifying the problems that need to be solved, and solving them in the right way.

I will be working closely with our teams and clients to understand their goals and challenges, and help them to take a human-centred approach to transformation; understanding and balancing the needs of citizens, their delivery teams, and stakeholders.

A focus on Tech for Good

I also wanted to join a business that didn’t just talk a good Tech for Good game, but clearly lived and breathed it, from the clients they choose to partner with to the impact their work has on society.

Difrent have an enviable client list in the Healthcare and Government sectors.

This includes the NHS Business Services Authority, Department of Health and Social Care, NHS Digital, The World Health Organisation, and The Department of Work and Pensions.

Our growth strategy is based on developing existing partner relationships and aiming to be at the heart of all digital services across the public sector.

Difrent's Rich Picture, highlighting our people and processes

Image: Our Rich Picture service: ‘Difrent is’ by Scriberia

We want to deliver even more services that have a positive impact on the lives of citizens, patients and clinical staff, while ensuring everything we do is accessible for everyone, with diversity at the core of our values.

With a Newcastle HQ

Oh, and as a bonus… They told me that by the time I joined, the new head office would be in Newcastle, my home town.

In my second week, I got the opportunity to meet our CEO, Rachel, for a face-to-face welcome in our new HQ.

It’s the icing on the cake that I chose to work for a business led by an award-winning, extremely supportive, and down to Earth female leader.

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