Design Engineering
Showcase

Coutts & Co

Student
Joshua Anderson
Team
Innovation, Onboarding & In-life
Supervisor
Dr Billy Wu
Role
Design Engineer
Sector
Finance

Coutts is the UK’s leading private bank, and is globally renowned for its exceptional customer service. I aimed to learn about how a larger company operates and produce real-world impacts. Coutts provided me the opportunity to run two design research projects on climate change and KYC (Know Your Client) processes. These projects are both being carried forwards. Alongside this, I hosted 6 workshops on Design Thinking to over 60 employees. Coutts was a brilliant opportunity to develop both technical skills (learning 7 web programming languages) and soft skills (presenting, communication) that have prepared me well for final year and beyond.

 — Coutts & Co

Demonstration of Design Engineering Thinking and Skills

The 6 Design Engineering interns at Coutts had to create and host 6 Design Thinking workshops to over 60 employees. This sharpened our design thinking knowledge and put into perspective what we have learnt throughout our degree so far. The workshop began by describing what Design Thinking is and why it’s important, then detailed the 5-stage Design Thinking process. The workshop was then split into two groups and we ran a 30-minute ideation session, with a different target user for each group. Finally, ideas were presented to the whole workshop. This provided insights into design thinking for employees as well as first-hand experience through ideation. The workshop was very well received, receiving an average rating of 9.5/10 and being fully booked.

Design Thinking principals were used extensively in the climate portal project: Agile methods such as sprint planning, sprint reviews, sprint retrospectives and daily standups allowed the group to pivot and adapt quickly to developments in the brief. To de-risk the project, a method called assumption mapping was used; this involved prioritising the most important assumptions based on impact and ease of validation. Three separate UX studies were then carried out on over 40 employees and target users to uncover design insights.

My final project (KYC rules mapping) involved creating multiple interactive website demos to bring to life highly technical and complex work in an engaging way. User testing was paramount, resulting in creating over 17 iterations for a final standalone application.

Role and Contributions

As a Design Engineer at Coutts, I had two key roles: Firstly, to apply Design Thinking to improve current processes and create innovative solutions, and secondly, to promote Design Thinking principals to aid the company in transitioning to Design Thinking practises. The first role was achieved through my two main projects, and the second role was achieved through creating and hosting 6 design thinking workshops.

The first project was the climate portal group project, which took place over the first month of the placement in the innovation team. The aim of the project was to provide solutions that encouraged Coutts clients to improve the energy efficiency of their properties. I conducted background research, competitor analysis, assumption mapping, UX user research, ideation, and concept refinement. After the final ideas were developed, I created a climate portal website that brought to life all our design ideas for stakeholders. The project is now being carried forwards in the DDX team, who plan to roll out the climate portal solution next year. I was recognised as taking the lead in this project by organising meetings and leasing with stakeholders.

The second project was the KYC rules mapping solo project, where I was responsible for extensive research and mapping of the current KYC process at Coutts. This resulted in creating quick wins for the process, which provided short term benefits. I also created two web demos for redesigned processes that brought to life insights and ideas for stakeholders. Upon presenting these, I was requested by a senior stakeholder to create a standalone application for one of my designs, which is planned to be rolled out in October for the KYC department at Coutts. Finally, I produced a 6,000-word, 36-page technical specification which could be used to automate the KYC process, providing a long-term solution for Coutts.

Summary

The industrial placement at Coutts has provided great opportunities to work on multiple projects with tangible outcomes, teach Design Thinking to over 60 employees, and greatly develop professional technical and soft skills. Coutts has given me a brilliant insight into how a larger corporation operates and has developed my professionalism which will be a great benefit to my final year and beyond. My advice for prospective placement students going into Coutts is to understand your stakeholders, your project scope, and prioritise communication.

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