My resume is available as a PDF
Or, get to know about my career in a more scroll-y way…
It’s long, but mirrors how I would describe my experience in an interview.
During my academic journey, I pursued Cognitive Science (B.S.) at UC San Diego and later specialized in Human-Computer Interaction (M.S.) at the University of Michigan School of Information.
A pivotal moment occurred when my counselor at Muir College (UCSD), Terri Cain, introduced me to HCI and encouraged me to transition from Engineering in my sophomore year.
Terri, thank you for forever altering the course of my life. 🙏🏾
During my time at the University of Michigan, I landed a dream internship at Blizzard Entertainment. As a kid, I probably logged nearly 5,000+ hours between StarCraft, Diablo 1-2, and Warcraft 3!
There, I engaged in both UX Design and UX Research projects for a total of 12 weeks, and I even received credit in the development of Diablo 3! As an intern, that was wild.
This experience ignited a specific passion within me, propelling me towards my aspiration of becoming a Games User Researcher during my second year at UMSI.
In 2012, I proudly graduated from UMSI, but the post-graduation job hunt posed challenges as I faced rejections from numerous (read: over 60) companies.
Persistence paid off as I secured an interview with key VPs at KIXEYE, a social gaming startup, through a Blizzard connection who had defected there between my internship and graduation. I sold my skills as a UX designer and researcher, and they ultimately decided to open up a “UX specialist” position I could apply for. I demonstrated the value of hiring a versatile UX professional like myself, and they made me their first UX hire.
At KIXEYE, I engaged in diverse tasks, ranging from crafting in-game UI wireframes using tools like Axure to facilitating live 4v4 playtests for our new web-based MOBA, literally changing the CEO and other executives’ minds on the efficacies of conducting playtests (their words)!
After two enriching years in games, I decided to transition to a larger, more mainstream tech team, eager to further my learning beyond the confines of a smaller startup environment.
Transitioning from social games to social media, I embarked on a remarkable four-year journey that touched upon 12+ different products. Notably, I had the privilege of presenting to none other than MMA Champion Mark Zuckerberg on more than four occasions. 💀
Among my proudest achievements was being honored with the “Best Representative of the Facebook Research Team” award during the inaugural Facebook Research Summit in 2017. Throughout my tenure, I played a pivotal role in introducing UX research to each new class of hires, consisting of over 200 members biweekly. Additionally, I took immense pride in my leadership contributions to the UX research team, Facebook Improv (“Give No Fox”), helping run the Facebook Design Leadership Series, and Facebook Toastmasters.
By the time I concluded my four years at Facebook, I had conducted an impressive number of studies, surpassing all other researchers at the time of my departure. Furthermore, I ranked second in the number of interviews conducted for UX Researcher candidates. I was also privileged to be part of the esteemed survey review crew, which consisted of the top <2% of all research and analyst roles at Facebook.
People were surprised when I left, but I was (as many of us often become in this industry) very, very burnt out. I took a few months off.
Following a rejuvenating working break, I joined Dropbox, eager to immerse myself in a culture that truly valued design. This is where my passion lay post-Facebook… what was it like to truly work for an organization that was design-first?
Working alongside a highly efficient and closely-knit design sister team, I delved into the world of being design-focused, gaining valuable insights along the way.
Although I gave it a fair try, I found myself lacking inspiration in the Assistant product’s development—the menu that appears when right-clicking the Dropbox menu tray icon.
Consequently, I came to the realization that full-time involvement in the Software as a Service (SaaS) domain wasn’t aligned with my passion and expertise (no offense to my SaaS friends). I needed a much more challenging day-to-day.
Eager for a fresh start, I made a significant pivot to the realm of self-driving cars, a complete departure from the SaaS landscape. With a wealth of knowledge gained from my HCI training, both academically and professionally, I embraced new learning opportunities by joining General Motors in their self-driving division, Cruise.
At Cruise, I had the privilege of leading future consumer experience research, envisioning how the self-driving car experience might unfold at launch, in five years, and even a decade into the future.
My work delved into critical areas, such as determining how autonomous vehicles should respond in emergencies and how pickups and drop-offs would function in scenarios where meeting passengers precisely at their location was not feasible. An exciting highlight was the opportunity to prototype self-driving cars for research (yes, prototyping), collaborating with the astute GM Research team in Michigan.
Unfortunately, the unforeseen impact of the COVID-19 pandemic led to Cruise making workforce reductions, affecting over 10% of their staff, including myself.
Amidst the uncertainties brought on by COVID-19, I embarked on a personal journey of introspection, contemplating my true passions and aspirations. Though my time at Cruise was fulfilling, circumstances necessitated change.
Taking five months to explore my desires, I came to a momentous discovery— DISCORD WAS HIRING A UX RESEARCHER! FINALLY! I had checked every so often over the years, but never seemed to time it right… little did I know, this was their first one.
And so, I ended up founding and managing the Discord Research team.
Discord, an app I have literally (maybe sadly?!) used approximately 12-16 hours each day since 2015, naturally fueled my passion for this new endeavor.
In a unique full-circle moment reminiscent of my time at KIXEYE, I found myself leading a small yet dynamic team—this time as the driving force behind it. With great pride, I assembled a team of three remarkable researchers, who continue to excel.
Together, we achieved remarkable milestones, shaping the entire company’s trajectory in 2023 to be inclusive of all people, not solely gamers. Our contributions extended beyond research, as we empowered the organization through education on UX research’s value, its appropriate application, and the insights it could deliver to propel the business forward.
As I departed Discord, I left with a deep sense of pride in my team’s accomplishments and a relentless commitment to continue challenging myself—an enduring theme throughout my career.
The present day. I know what the inefficiencies are across multiple industries and multiple stages & sizes of companies. It’s infuriating!
Based on this, I’ve founded a firm called Takimo with my wife, Kat.
I’m here because:
- I get to work with a more diverse set of clients more often. Win/win as I learn more about more stuff while also never getting bored.
- Similarly, I can come in as a third-party impartial outsider for a shorter time versus a heavily-biased first-party SME. The way something looks after doing a 5-minute test vs. working on it for one year is obviously very dramatic!
- I get to work a more flexible schedule that maximizes my happiness.
- My success or failure is solely based on effective results for my clients.
Enough about me. Tell me about you! 👇🏾