Consultant & Head of Mobile Design for Nordea Digital Banking – Headed up the Mobile Design Team for Nordea Bank, the largest banking organisation in Scandinavia, primarily based out of Helsinki, with regular travel to Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oulu. I was responsible for a team of 12 Designers working on iOS and Android Mobile Apps and responsive Web.

My primary feature teams sat within the ‘Digital Servicing Stream’, but Designers spread out across Digital Sales and Remote CX, and also have regular communication with Digital Engineering. I am also part of a middle management team, primarily focused on Mobile, but with experience and access to Research and Insights, Use Cases and User Journeys, Consistency (developing toolkits), and of course Web / Desktop.

Roles and responsibilities included:

  • Managing, inspiring and motivating team members
  • Introduce a new design culture to the organization
  • Managing design backlogs across other feature team Product Owners
  • Running design stand-ups, weeklies, workshops, reviews etc.
  • Regular communication with other POs, Bas, Scrum Masters and Stakeholders
  • Helping to shape Use Cases and User Journeys
  • Helping to define Design Toolkits for consistency across teams
  • Working with the brand team on creating digital brand guidelines
  • Working alongside the Web Team Lead to align Web with Mobile
  • Design forecasting, strategy and planning backlogs for future sprints
  • And again, getting my hands dirty with plenty of UX / UI Design Work!

Priorities for 2017 were led by a huge migration to agile methodologies and ways of working. I was integral in helping them form a plan to deliver x4 Pi’s per year, each one consisting of x5 two-week Sprints, with an additional Sprint for RnD and contingency.

I was also responsible for defining the Product Vision for the Bank’s primary Personal Banking Mobile Application, working together with the brand team in Sweden, Digital Sales Teams and Marketing.


The Story

Late in 2016 I was head hunted for a contract role based in Scandinavia. Initially the role was for a ‘typical’ UX Designer, but after a 30 minute call with the client, we decided I would go out to head up their entire Mobile Design Team, across three different locations!

The client was Nordea, the largest bank in Scandinavia, and they were going through the process of transitioning to an agile way of working. The 30 minute call I mentioned above was with Kara Towner-Larsen, Head of CX and Corporate for Digital Banking. It was because of that conversation with Kara that i took the role; her points of view, methodologies, ethos and general persona completely aligned with my own and we aligned immediately.

A few days later I was out in Copenhagen going through the on-boarding process. This was my real first experience of ‘on-boarding’ with an organization of this size, and it was a bit of a culture shock to understand how much time goes into setting up a new team member. I was there a couple of weeks before Christmas, and left Denmark with the plan of joining the team in Helsinki, Finland a few days later.

The biggest challenge for me with the team I joined with Nordea Digital, was not so much the product challenges or the new agile ways of working, but entering an existing team, that to be honest, had gone through a few years of turbulance with different leaders and decision makers, and they were very demotivated. The first task was to get the team together, get them aligned, get them happy, so we can drive forward with the new product and corporate vision.

My team was spread over four cities in three countries, so a lot of my time was spent on planes and in hotels. I was primarily based in Helsinki in southern Finland, with half of the team there. A smaller, more ‘lean’ team were up in Oulu, just south of the arctic circle, with remaining team members in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Stockholm, Sweden.

Another major challenge was to figure out how the design teams and our vision for a new design culture was to integrate with the new agile ways of working. Typically with agile, they are very product development led, which usually results in an organization of product feature teams consisting of a Product Manager, Business Analyst, Scrum Master, Developers, and if they’re lucky, a UX/UI Designer. They plan their Epics, Initiatives, Features and Sprints and all that jazz, and then usually say ‘oh, but we have no designs for this…’ 🙂

What I couldn’t do is disrupt the existing agile plan. It was far too large and involved far too many people to go around ruffling feathers and preaching. Instead what we did was to ultimately prioritise everything the product teams had planned; whatever they had committed to, the design team supported. The cool edition however, is that i set myself up as a kind of ‘Design Product Owner’, which meant that after each designer had been involved with their product team meetings, planning etc. the design community we have a similar bi-weekly catch up to ensure everyone was aligned to ensure quality and consistency between teams. I also took responsibility over the design backlog to help designers work economically and collaboratively across features and projects.

This worked really well and it wasn’t long before we were an entire PI ahead of development (6 Sprints).

When it came to hands-on work, my projects typically fell to those that sat across multiple teams, that affected the entire product, not just individual features. This included Information Architecture, Style Guides and UX Toolkits, and also creative and branding.

The team at Nordea were incredible – different cultures, experiences, backgrounds and skill sets, that when brought together under a united vision, performed amazingly.

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