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UX Designer, Consultant, and Podcast Creator are just a handful of roles that BrainStation Design Instructor, Gerard Dolan, fills on a day-to-day basis. Dolan has worked in the design field for more than two decades, and has taught multiple design courses at BrainStation, including User Experience Design, User Interface Design, and Design Thinking.
We spoke to Gerard about what drew him to UX, why he created his podcast, and what it’s like to be a BrainStation Instructor.
UX Design as a Natural Next Step
With UX gaining popularity over the course of the past several years, individuals from many different professional backgrounds are scrambling to build their design skills and transition into the field. This is so commonplace, we often forget that for some professionals, UX design was a natural next step. “I come from a traditional art, design, branding background, having studied at OCAD (Ontario College of Art and Design), that always stressed the why at the beginning of projects,” says Dolan. “UX was a natural progression based on this training.”
Now, Dolan works in consulting for UX, strategy, and product design. “I’m generally engaged at the start of projects when there’s plenty of ambiguity to go around,” says Dolan. “My role is to make the complex simple, and to make the design solution compelling for the customer and relevant to a business driver.” Dolan’s work allows him to be at the epicentre of design and business, and gives him a firm grasp on how these two elements influence one another.
The BrainStation Experience
Dolan’s knowledge and expertise is something he brings to BrainStation students every class, providing them with insight into what it’s like to work in the design field. He believes in the power of BrainStation to prepare students for the workforce. “The UX skills training at BrainStation gives a solid foundation and direction for an individual to enter the discipline,” says Dolan.
Not only is Gerard sharing his own experience, but he’s constantly learning from other UX professionals through his podcast. “Basically, I was tied to the office working and traveling for business. I could barely make it to conferences, and I’m no good if I’m lacking creative input. So I decided to reach out directly to those I wished to have a conversation with,” explains Dolan about his motivation for the podcast. “Many of these conversations have helped me formulate and stress test my processes.”
Starting the UX Discovery Session Podcast
UX Discovery Session was named one of the best UX podcasts in 2018, and features discussions with various design thought leaders from diverse organizations and industries about new ideas, emerging techniques, and whatever else comes to mind.
“The interview format I decided on helps the audience relate to the interviewees as people,” says Dolan. “The blue sky question for example, ‘If money and time weren’t an object, is there a project (or an area of interest) you would wish to initiate?’, has had some pretty great answers. Everything from charitable work, to fixing the California transportation licensing office, to wanting to be a cheese farmer.”
And isn’t relating to others what UX is all about? Empathizing with the user so that you can better understand their needs, and ultimately, create a solution that meets them. According to Gerard Dolan, the most important skill a UX Designer can have is “listening to and analyzing the ambiguity. Identifying patterns that exist and providing a solid point of view for a relevant solution for the customer and the business.”
Gerard brings his passion for design and learning to every class he instructs at BrainStation. “[My favourite part] is having a positive impact on the careers of the students,” says Dolan. “I’m very fortunate to have met so many talented people in this role.”
Interested in learning from Gerard or one of our other industry leading instructors? Check out all of BrainStation’s design courses and training options.