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Morgan Stanley

Contract :: user experience consultant :: 2010

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Towards the end of my second spell at Headlondon I took a call from an associate of mine, Ian Worley, who had recently taken up the role as Head of User Experience at Morgan Stanley. He asked me whether I wantd to join the user experience team that he was assembling. I was immediately intrigued, because my UX radar had already been alerted to the innovative and rather cool Rich Internet Application (RIA) work that was going on at Morgan Stanley via a trading platform called Matrix.

So at the beginning of June 2010 I found myself walking into the austere, hushed marble lobby of an American investment bank, not quite sure what to expect but looking dforward to it anyhow.

Well, what I found was a learning curve so steep it was almost a vertical wall. A private language, that's the most striking thing about investment banking: the financial ideolect that is spoken so fluently by (relatively speaking) so few.

But I like conceptually murky, ill-defined problem spaces (so I keep telling people, right?) and, well really, there's nothing quite as fantastically, murkily opaque (from the outside) as the problem of designing RIA software for traders and their institutional clients in an investment bank.

In truth, and less flippantly, it turned out to be a fantastically rewarding experience. The interaction design - because it's software - was very pure, and fantastically enjoyable. And the nature of the subject matter (whether it's indices, bonds, analytics, FX or other much more esoteric financial instruments) meant that I was always learning, always on my toes.

So I went back to school (metaphorically speaking), studied hard, and more rapdily than I had anticipated, began to really enjoy myself, reaching that intensely-focussed, relaxed-but-furiously-concentrating, hugely-rewarding flow state of intuitive solution generation.

You know the feeling? Brilliant.

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