Jonathan Hirsch MA FRSA
Strategic and creative thinking, strong analytical and problem-solving abilities, leadership and team-working skills… Highly literate and articulate, self-motivated, well-organised… A rarely found cross-disciplinary skill set encompassing business, content, design and technical issues… A self-starter who is not afraid to ‘get on and do things’ or to ‘muck in’ with hands-on production work when needed…
A 25-year veteran of the web / interactive media industry… experience ranges from board-level strategic consultancy to project management and co-ordination of inter-disciplinary teams, to information architecture and user-experience design, through to hands-on production… independent consultant since 1999, previously a director of two web agencies… a special interest in skills development; has provided thought leadership and skills frameworks, strategies and standards to government agencies… occasional visiting tutor / lecturer at various universities…
Understands: business, content, design, technology… Identifies: objectives, audiences, requirements, solutions… Communicates: vision, strategy, approach, clarity… Connects: commissioners, suppliers, designers, developers…
1999 to present: Independent Consultant – providing strategic consultancy, project leadership, product management and solutions design to organisations undertaking enterprise-scale Internet investments; research consultancy to public sector bodies; strategic and tactical support for supply-side agencies.
1997 to 1998: Director, Fahrenheit 451 – new media agency working for corporate and public sector clients; won Design Business Association (DBA) International Design Effectiveness Award for www.shell.com.
1995 to 1997: Director, The Art of Invention – new media agency undertaking CD-Rom, web and kiosk projects for corporate and public sector clients. Won British Interactive Media Association (BIMA) award for first CD-Rom.
MA Design for Interactive Media – distinction (Middlesex University, 1994/95)
BA (Hons) Philosophy and Psychology – upper second (Keele University, 1991/94)
Native English speaker and writer
Near-fluent (albeit now somewhat rusty) French
Has dabbled with learning Mandarin Chinese
Since starting as an independent consultant in 1999, I have worked on a project-by-project basis with a wide range of organisations encompassing large corporations, small businesses, charities, government agencies and other public sector bodies. My assignments typically run from a few weeks to a few months, though I have held a number of interim positions lasting up to eighteen months.
Depending on scale, duration and specific client needs, a typical project would see me working in some or all of the following areas:
Strategic Consultancy: Working with senior leadership to identify or formulate project purpose, objectives, opportunities, constraints, challenges, success criteria, and key performance indicators; identifying appropriate approaches, methodologies, timescales, and resource requirements; definition of project vision.
Business Analysis: Working with project stakeholders to identify and prioritise business processes, rules, needs, drivers, expectations and preferences; facilitating workshops, focus groups, one-to-one interviews; designing surveys, collating and analysing data.
Information Architecture: Auditing existing content; writing, editing and/or re-purposing material; development of metadata schemas / taxonomies; organisation and classification of content; design of site / content maps, navigation, search tools, data display conventions; production of publishing guidelines.
Solution Definition: Design of functional and high-level non-functional requirements; identification and assessment of possible approaches, technologies, systems and tools; documentation of pros, cons and implications thereof; facilitating supplier selection where appropriate; presenting recommendations to senior decision-makers.
Systems Design: Design of behind-the-scenes functionality, processes, information flow, business rules and workflow.
User Experience Architecture: User research and design of user journeys, user interactions and interface wireframes.
Documentation: Capturing and presenting requirements and solutions in the form of user stories / themes / epics, use cases, business cases, scopes of work, wireframes and/or functional specifications, as appropriate to the project management methodology being used and/or level of detail required.
Project Direction: Ensuring the overall business objectives and project vision are understood and maintained by the project team; cross-disciplinary liaison between sub-teams, specialists, domain experts and supplier organisations; interaction with project sponsors, organisational management and other stakeholders to report on project progress, ensure understanding, maintain engagement and engender support.
I have worked on both client-side and agency-side, variously in freelance, contract, and interim capacities. Many of my assignments have required only part-time involvement and so have frequently run concurrently – I am comfortable and adept at managing my time and compartmentalising my work.
Interim work: The following examples are assignments in which I worked on an interim management basis:
- April 2016 – December 2016: The Home Office – User Experience Lead on the Immigration Platform Technologies programme; managing a team of UX Designers; overseeing both business-as-usual delivery and the development of a programme-wide design library to enable a consistent user experience across products, providing a single point of reference for development teams; carrying out discovery and requirements analysis work with the Business Analysts; facilitating design and testing sessions with Product Owners and users; working with Release Train Engineers, Scrum Masters, Developers and Testers during sprint planning and refinement; promoting the UX process and championing the needs of users within a challenging, technically-focussed programme.
- May 2009 – September 2010: LSN (the Learning and Skills Network) – Microsoft SharePoint 2010 implementation; acted as internal Project Lead, reporting to the COO, undertaking business analysis, requirements specification and development of online strategy, leading technology and supplier selection, and thereafter acting as Product Owner during agile development process, overseeing supplier and coordinating internal Web, IT, and Internal Communications teams, and managing the overall project through to successful completion.
- March 2007 – February 2008: SSAT (the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust) – Microsoft SharePoint 2007 (MOSS) implementation; acted as internal Project Lead, reporting to the Head of Information Services; the role was much the same as described above for LSN Learning, but also included development of information architecture, functional specifications and metadata schemas; I was credited with bringing strong communication skills and a balance of diplomacy and decisiveness to what was a challenging assignment due to the internal culture; also recognised for managing the project team with clear leadership and humour and for motivating them through some very difficult times.
Project work: The following is a selection of projects and clients in my portfolio, which I hope demonstrate a range of abilities and roles across the digital arena:
- January 2017 – February 2019: Service Designer at the Department of International Trade, leading the design of a caseworking system to speed up the processing of export licence applications, and designing an internal system for managing UK Tariffs and Quotas post-Brexit (to replace the current capability provided by the European Union).
- May 2014 – September 2016: Digital Architect at Prospect, working on several large systems-design projects for a global technology company.
- February 2014: User Experience Consultant at CACI, working on a large multi-brand consumer-facing web project for a major operator of food-and-beverage premises.
- January – December 2013: User Experience Architect at MRM Meteorite, working on various projects for clients in the automotive, technology, financial services and retail sectors.
- July – August 2012: Business Analyst at AKQA, working on a global web platform project for a major automotive brand.
- February – April 2012: User Experience Architect for BIG Group, working on a consumer-facing web project for a large financial services company.
- October – November 2011: User Experience Architect for Fjord, working on a web and mobile music delivery service for a global telecommunications company.
- May – December 2011: User Experience Architect for GNIUS, developing functional specifications and wire-frames for an extranet project on behalf of a major FMCG company.
- October – December 2010: User Experience Lead on a key project for MRM London (now MRM Meteorite) – providing information architecture and user experience design, advising the client and guiding internal teams; also closely involved with pitch preparation work.
- June – August 2009: Consultant for Unity Trust bank – providing advice to the Marketing Director prior to a web-site redevelopment project.
- 2008: User Experience Architect on various projects for Flame – developing wireframes and information architecture to guide the in-house design team.
- 2007: Assessor for Skillset Media Academies programme, helping to evaluate applications and select institutes for academy status.
- 2006-2008: Information Architect and Technical Lead on various projects for Grand Union – providing client-facing consultancy, development of information architecture and functional specifications, hands-on development, and technical direction to project teams.
- 2006: Consultant for IQPC – providing strategic consultancy and advice to the Marketing Director, developing information architecture and functional specifications, and liaising with their supplier during the implementation of Ektron CMS.
- 2003: Project Director on an enterprise CMS implementation (using Amaxus from Box UK) for DANTE, a pan-European organisation that coordinates research networking infrastructure – provided strategic consultancy and advice to the Marketing Director, developed information architecture and functional specifications, managed procurement and acted as liaison between several suppliers and the client.
- 2003: Technical Lead for Applied Information Group on a prototype intranet development project for the Design Council – developed functional specifications, built MySQL databases and coded back-end PHP scripts and front-end HTML.
- 2002: Consultant for Freeserve ISP – providing usability and user-experience design advice to the in-house web team.
- 2000-2002: Consultant, Technical Lead, Information Architect on various projects for Okupi – in particular, worked on a prototype implementation of a ‘Broadband Educational TV’ service for Pearson Broadband, providing client-facing advice and strategic consultancy, information architecture and functional specifications, liaison between the project partners (including IBM and OpenMind) and technical teams.
- 2000: Trainer for COI Communications – developed and delivered a course of training workshops to COI’s team of design managers, to develop their new media skills and help them understand the issues and considerations that differentiate digital / interactive media design from other disciplines.
- 2000: Visiting Teacher at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design – assisting with new media projects on the BA Fine Art course.
- 1999-2003: Consultant, Strategist, Project Manager and Technical Lead on various projects for Simulacra Media – in particular, developing an ICT Strategy for the UK Countryside Agency, a Broadband Strategy for the Sci-Fi Channel, and leading the design and specification of an in-house Web Content Management system.
- 1999-2002: Trainer for the Open Society Institute – provided digital publishing training to Eastern European students in Prague, Czech Republic; required ability to manage cultural and political sensitivities and language barriers.
- 1999-2001: Consultant for NetBenefit – supporting the Marketing Director and other senior staff, contributed to marketing strategy, authored on-line content, interviewed candidates for webmaster role.
- 1998-1999: Visiting Lecturer at the Royal College of Art, teaching on the MA Computer Related Design course.
- 1998-1999: Visiting Lecturer at Middlesex University, teaching on the MA Design for Interactive Media course.
Over the years I have had hands-on experience with various digital technologies:
- Software: Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator; Affinity Designer; Microsoft Visio, Project, Office; Omni Graffle; Balsamiq; Axure; Sketch.
- PHP, Perl and MySQL, with which I have developed a number of content management systems and other back-end functionality.
- Lingo (Macromedia Director), which I have used extensively in the past to develop various CD-Roms.
- Passing awareness of ActionScript (Flash), .Net, BBC Basic (as resurrected in the late 1990s for use in some web-on-TV set-top-boxes), Microsoft VB.
The following is a selection of career highlights of which I am particularly proud, and which I hope demonstrate my calibre and experience:
- Authored the UK National Skills Strategy for Interactive Media & Computer Games on behalf of Skillset, the government-appointed Sector Skills Council for Creative Media. This strategy underpinned UK government policy around education, qualifications and workforce development in the digital / interactive sector.
- Authored UK National Occupational Standards for Interactive Media & Computer Games. These standards govern the development of vocational qualifications in the UK. Also developed Job Profiles for the sector, which are used to help public sector bodies, as well as other media industries, to understand the key roles and their skills requirements.
- Authored UK National Skills Strategy for Photo-Imaging, and various other suites of UK National Occupational Standards, including Animation, Accounting & Finance, and Internal Audit, on behalf of Skillset and the Financial Services Skills Council.
- Won a BIMA (British Interactive Media Association) award in 1996 for my first CD-Rom, due to its highly innovative interactions and user interfaces (designed and coded by me using Macromedia Director’s Lingo scripting language), which pushed the boundaries of the technology available at the time.
Alongside my interactive media activities, I am working to bring to market an electric guitar I designed and patented – see www.hirsch-guitar.com.
I regularly volunteer time wherever I feel I am able to make a difference or be of assistance to charitable organisations or other worthwhile projects, including:
- 2016: Mentoring at Garden International School on their “Be The Change” Large Scale Enquiry programme, using social innovation and design thinking to explore the United Nations Global Goals.
- 2013: Mentoring for Social Innovation Camp Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
- 2008-present: Business Advisor for Young Enterprise – visiting local schools to help raise students’ awareness of business, enterprise and entrepreneurship.
- 2008-2011: Member of Skillset Qualifications Forum.
- 2004-present: Member of Brighton & Hove Education Business Partnership.
- 2004-2009: Member of Executive Committee and also Webmaster, for Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce.
- 2002-2006: Judging panellist, International Visual Communications Association (IVCA) Business Communication Awards and IVCA BizNet Awards.
- 2002-2004: Co-founder and Chief Executive, Association of New Media Freelancers.
- 2000-2012: Member of Skillset Research Committee and Interactive Media Skills Forum.