As part of our ongoing ‘BAM Employee Spotlight’ series, which features BAM team members working across various teams, roles and regions, we recently spoke to André Holmes, a User Experience and User Interface (UX/UI) Manager in our Research Technology unit in New York.
In the Q&A that follows, André shares what attracted him to the UX space, why he joined BAM and what cutting-edge trends in the web technology space he’s watching closely – and drawing inspiration from in his new role at our firm.
Q: Thanks for chatting with us, André. Tell us about your background and how you got interested in user experience-focused software design?
A: My "Aha!' moment in user experience came at a company by the name of Edible Arrangements. They’re well known for their beautiful, floral-like arrangements designed with a variety fruits; but the store-front ordering system they had when I joined was tedious, time-consuming and frustrated many store owners.
So, we sought to improve it. We interviewed a number of store owners and worked with them to develop a clean and intuitive way to accept customized orders in a significantly shorter amount of time. The work we did eventually made its way onto tablets at kiosks that were rolled out to a number of malls across the US and worldwide. The new system transformed the company’s sales and ordering, leading to shorter check-out times and higher sales volume – it was a huge success.
That was a really powerful experience for me. I learned the value of sitting down with people – the actual end-users of the software being developed – and building interfaces with their perspectives and needs in mind, as opposed to just following my own instincts as a designer.
Q: What drew you to BAM?
A: After Edible Arrangements, I incubated an educational technology startup at Herff Jones with a few colleagues, which was later acquired by Varsity Brands. It was at that point that I made my move into the finance industry. Several colleagues whom I had met at other financial firms ultimately joined BAM, and I kept hearing from them about how great the culture is at the firm.
I was connected with Dave Prezioso, BAM's Chief People Officer, and other individuals at BAM for a series of introductory conversations and interviews. In speaking with folks during the interview process, I was struck by how ‘human’ these conversations were. People made a point to end our interviews on a personal note – to find out who I am as an individual, what interests me and how we can connect.
Q: What are your initial impressions of BAM’s culture?
A: Somewhere along the line, BAM realized that a people-first mentality goes a long way, not just to keep people motivated and to promote good morale, but also to increase efficiency. People are receptive to feedback and open to new ideas – they want to see the firm succeed, and they understand that if their teammates succeed, the firm will too. There's a human synergy within the firm that's palpable in your day-to-day interactions with colleagues.
Q: At BAM, you will help manage UX/UI software design. What does that involve and what are your plans?
A: A key goal will be to consolidate and improve our software systems and tech stack. I would like to also make it easier for our various desktop and web applications to achieve a certain degree of interoperability, while also making a bigger push into the mobile space.
I am also a big believer in leveraging interactive prototypes and championing user-centric and design-first mentalities. They can speed-up the development process significantly and ensure that apps deliver not just accurate data and required functionality; but also experiences that make our digital products enjoyable to use.
Q: Are there any trends in the user experience space that excite you and that could impact your work at BAM?
A: In web technology, the industry is starting to embrace two things: interactive prototyping, which I mentioned, and low-code approaches to development. Low-code development is this idea of developers getting away from coding applications line by line and becoming more like composers, where they cherry-pick and plug in components to build cohesive applications.
It's the way of the future, and it can make our developers up to 75% more efficient in some cases. If we can significantly shift our time spent and resources allocated to manual coding methods and invest more in low-code platforms, then we will be way ahead of the pack.
Q: To end on a personal note, what are some of your interests outside of work?
A: When I’m not bike riding with my two kids, I enjoy reading and cooking. I'm also really big into woodworking and the outdoors. I’ve spent a lot of time building gadgets and furniture around the house. I love working with my hands to build things that are both beautiful and functional. In that respect, it definitely ties into my day job!