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UXPA UK 2017 Elections – Academic Liaison Vote

Following our call for applications to become members of the UXPA UK Committee, we have four candidates standing for election for the Academic Liasion Officer role. It’s time for you, the UXPA UK membership, to cast your vote for who you want to take on the role.

The candidates are listed in alphabetical order by surname. They each outline their vision, goals and a short bio for your consideration. You will find details of how to vote on the bottom of the page.

Ella Botting

My vision for the role

As a recent graduate (BSc and MA) I can empathise with students not knowing ‘what they want to do with their lives’, along with how hard it can be to find a job in the current market. My vision for the role relates specifically to this struggle, and can be broken down into 3 main parts which I believe will be beneficial both for UXPA and its members:

  1. Collaboration: the sourcing of new academic partners, as well as maintaining the relationships with pre-existing academic partners. Furthermore, collaborating with non-academic peoples too, i.e. bloggers, workshop hosts, potential courses, mentoring opportunities etc. (relates to point number 2) which would be useful as part of the academic liaison role.

  2. Communication: identifying potential speakers and workshop facilitators, be a valuable representative of students and recent graduates, keep in touch with relevant peoples to provide the best opportunities available.

  3. Engagement: increase student engagement in UXPA activities, whilst simultaneously providing opportunities that students/ recent graduates will want to boast about.

Goals for the first year

My goals for the first year relate to the three points I mentioned in my vision for the role: collaboration, communication and engagement. More specifically I would like to focus on opportunities which will provide valuable and relevant advice to the students and recent graduates, such as mentoring and shadowing opportunities, which involves collaboration with the community and relevant university bodies. Secondly, I would like to get more involved with the university itself as I believe this is the best way to get students involved. This can be done by holding events at universities (for students and recent graduates), getting involved with the students union (societies, insight days, job fairs, fresher fairs), acting as a guest lecturer, and contacting specific departments (and student organisations) where the students may already have the pre-existing skills needed for this industry but may not actually be aware of the career opportunities.

My related experience

I have an undergraduate degree in psychology and a Master’s in Social and Political Thought, where research skills were a necessary skill and an important aspect of the courses. When I became interested in the tech/digital industry I started attending many events, workshops and MeetUps in order to expand my knowledge and expertise. Through this I became part of a wonderful and helpful community and when I approached one particular user researcher I admired, about shadowing her, she luckily accepted. I believe it is partly down to this shadowing opportunity that I was able to secure my current job as User Researcher at HMRC.

A short biography

I grew up in the UAE and as a result was exposed and participated in so many beautiful cultures, religions and ways of live. Subsequently, I am naturally curious and really value working with people. I came to Leeds for university in 2012 to embark on my Psychology undergraduate and although I held various voluntary and paid positions I struggled to find my niche. I have always had a passion for politics and sociology and thus decided to take my academic career further by starting a Master’s in Social and Political Thought, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It is through my Master’s that I was exposed (indirectly I suppose) to the technology industry and its empowering capabilities, as so many of the skills you need to succeed in the industry can be self taught/ accessed for free/ rarely need expensive further education. I then started attending as many events/workshops/MeetUps as I feasibly could, and quite quickly became aware of the gender imbalance. Therefore, I started my website ( which aims to promote women’s achievement in tech and digital mainly by publishing a monthly interview. Through my website I became aware of several career opportunities I was previously unaware of or considered unobtainable. However, I was exposed to the UX/researcher roles and thought this is the perfect way to combine my pre-existing skills (which I worked hard to get) and my passion for technology and digital.

William Deng

My vision for the role

My vision for the role is to connect the young, fresh and new talent from Academia as well as other educational institutions (e.g. General Assembly, DesignLab, HyperIsland) with the UXPA community. In addition to this, I would like to facilitate the transfer of knowledge from the research in academia to practitioners in UXPA.

Goals for the first year

My goals in the 1st year of my term would be to encourage communication and cooperation between UXPA and UK wide academic institutions. I will do this by:

  • Collecting a list of all UK universities with HCI as courses
  • Collecting a list of all UK educational institutions as well as online providers who teach students in the UK e.g. DesignLab
  • Connecting with representatives of each of the above to find out their current interactions with UXPA if any
  • Engaging them in regular conversation to find out where we can cooperate with mutual benefits e.g. if they can host an event if it is convenient or if they want to present on new research
  • Keeping in touch with students and graduates within UXPA to hear their feedback and experiences and then where appropriate voice this back to the committee and the representatives from the academic institutions

My related experience

Role specific: I have always wanted to give back to the community and especially to students, interns and juniors. This is why I started a blog in 2015 called and I wrote articles to share my experience of going from a student to a professional. My goal has always been to share knowledge so that other students can successfully transfer into industry. My writing has reached over 50k readers worldwide. I am active on the JuniorUXCommunity slack and I speak regularly with Tom Coterill to help guide juniors.
Voluntary: I have helped out at World Usability Days when they are hosted at City University.

A short biography

I taught myself how to design and code websites from the age of 13. My passion for digital technology led me to give up my job in Tax/Accounting/Audit to dedicate a career in User Experience Design.

My first professional UX role was at and Conde Nast. These roles allowed me to practice the full UCD process in cross functional teams. It especially gave me the chance to hone his interaction design skills to the highest quality as is the standard in Luxury Fashion.

My exposure to banking and Fintech at ICX4 gave me experience in embedding UX throughout a client delivery project, working with large teams, managing client expectations and championing the User Experience in a less tech-savvy and conservative environment. My time at Capco gave me experience to in project management, high level stakeholder management as well experience in pitching and proposal processes.

I am currently contracting at a medium sized Fintech firm and in the future I wish to continue to specialise in this area as I believe UX brings an immense amount of value in this sector.

Serene Knight

My vision for Academic Liaison 2018-2019

How I envision the role of Academic Liaison is primarily to be the student and academic institutional facing role. Along with the experience and insights of the rest of the UXPA UK Committee and some the goals in mind, together we could make further progress regarding engagement, representation and collaboration. Can UXPA UK get to the point where students view attending their events as something that naturally sits alongside their studies? I believe so. Can UXPA UK get students, academic institutions and lecturers based outside of London feeling supported too? I believe so. Can UXPA UK begin to host lecturer or student focused events and workshops? I believe so. As I’ll be returning to education in what would be the latter half of term as the Academic Liaison, and therefore a student myself, I feel this is critical for UXPA UK to authentically and productively represent students and recent graduates at committee level. Hence, providing visibility that UXPA UK is an inclusive environment, also for them—equally being a place for more experienced individuals. My overall vision put simply, is to truly unlock the full potential of the UXPA UK community.

Goals for the 1st year of term

One of my first goals if I were to become the Academic Liaison is not only to raise awareness of UXPA UK at academic institutions across the country, but to truly understand what the barriers are to stopping them from leveraging the support and knowledge that members benefit from. Is it the cost of membership, location of events, subject of events? Once this is understood, I would like to look at options to counteract these concerns. Some ideas could be to perhaps host student focused events or supply memberships for academic institutions.

Once we have made progress in this area, I would like to leverage my understanding of the current academic system of formal programs (BA’s) as well as programmes with, for example, General Assembly. With the support from my current lecturers at Loughborough, and hopefully their wider professional network, we could begin to form deeper relationships with academic partners.

Relevant experience

In regards to relevant experience for the role, over the past few years I have thrown myself into various Committee roles, from being the Chair of my Department (with a Committee of 10), the voting panel of Loughborough’s student forum and the Social Secretary of my Hall. In these teams, together we made a direct impact on the student experience. With the help of the Department Committee, we rose from 17th to 4th during my time as Chair and I was shortlisted for the Department Chair of the Year award. Our Hall was also the only Hall to have a full alternative timetable to rightfully provide students with a choice. While I admit I am not the most experienced UX-er out there, what I can say I have is a strong understanding of the dynamics of the academic system as we speak, where I think there are opportunities for UXPA to grow within this and my 110% dedication. Current students and recent graduates are the future of any industry, and ours is no exception. How UXPA collaborate with academic partner now will have a profound effect on where our industry will be in 30, 40 or even 50 years time.


Serene Knight’s journey into the world of UX first began around a year and a half ago, yet her journey with design began way back at school. Always enthused by psychology, business and most definitely design, when she discovered an equilibrium of these three subjects constitutes an industry, Serene got the bug. Every book she could get her hands on, she read. Every opportunity for a discussion on usability, she had. Every free workshop she could get into, she attended. Serene’s position currently is a UX Designer at Schroders, a global asset management company. Her 12-month placement is acting as a sandwich-year for an undergraduate in Visual Communication at Loughborough University. Serene grew up in a single-parent low-income household in Essex with her mum and brother and is very appreciative of the opportunity to attend university, and now wishes to use her experiences so far to make a difference and benefits others.

Alan Mato

Vision for the role

To be an authority on all popular courses and studies that new and existing students can take to progress their careers in UX and to be a reliable and trustworthy point of contact for related support. I envision the highest student membership the UXPA has ever had with the creation of a strong peer support network to give academic members a sense of camaraderie and constant motivation in their efforts. I see this role as pivotal in bringing together academic and industrial course providers to compare and contrast different world views on how to teach and conduct different kinds of research in a fast moving landscape. I would like to create a space of fun, curiosity and openness where students and learners at all levels can have unashamedly lively debates that spur wider conversations worth having within the UXPA. I see this role as providing a voice for students and learners whilst creating opportunities for industry to connect with the UXPA through it’s academic community.

Goals for first year of term

  • Setting up a regular email newsletter focusing on online learning resources, spot-lighting the pros and cons of particular courses, comparison charts, bios on teachers and students/learners who are UXPA members with stories about their experiences and other topical discussions relevant to learning UX
  • A fortnightly podcast series talking to teachers and students about the pains and pleasures of teaching and learning UX and including a day-in-the life and other insightful perspectives
  • Increasing student membership by 25%
  • Reaching out to one academic/industrial course provider a month in an effort to have them collaborate with UXPA
  • Engaging a speaker of academic relevance to present on a contemporary topic every three months

Summary of related experience

As a mature student who loves to learn I have had interesting and relevant experience with picking and choosing a Master’s degree in HCI. I have visited the Universities of Lund, Malmo and Copenhagen to look at studying courses in other countries so have experience looking for UX courses more widely. I have taken short UX courses and also have experience with a wide variety of online learning resources to talk about impartially. As a student of City University I organised many social events via the Facebook social account and volunteered with UX-specific events such as World IA Day which the university hosted. I continue to have strong connections to City University lecturers, students and alumni. Having worked as a UX-Researcher for an IT Training School I understand the world of the teacher and trainer especially. I used to contribute to the monthly newsletter for Computer Science whilst studying at Kingston University during my Batchelor’s degree so have a sense for writing good editorial no matter the topic. I have been an active member of UXPA since 2016 and get involved with as many events as I can. I’m confident and social and enjoy getting people together in a common cause.

Short Biography

I am a UX Researcher who has been working in fintech most recently, and having just returned from an epic trip to Thailand I am looking for my next challenge. I love to travel and meet with new cultures. As a people watcher I’m happiest running guerrilla sessions in coffee shops and can improvise research efforts on the fly. I got into UX by accident discovering City University’s MSc Human Centred Systems course whilst searching for the meaning of UX. I come from an IT service delivery background where helping callers solve their IT problems was a natural skill that I’ve brought with me into this career. I am greatly interested in Service Design and believe this is the future of really successful end-to-end product experiences. In my spare time I love to try new food and enjoy listening to jazz music.

How to vote

You can cast your vote via PollDaddy using the link below. To register your vote you will need to:

  • Provide the email address you used  to register with UXPA.
  • Cast your vote
  • PollDaddy will send you an email to the registered email address with a link for you to confirm the email address. This is important. If you don’t complete this, then your vote will not be registered.
  • We need you to provide your email address to verify your UXPA membership. Remember, only current UXPA members are eligible to vote.

Cast your vote here:

Voting closes on Friday, 15th December.

Questions? Please contact:

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