Expert Interview with Bianka McGovern, VP User Experience, Goldman Sachs


Q. Tell us a little bit more about your role at Goldman Sachs.

A. I’m currently a design program manager involved in building web platforms for financial services professionals. My job is to ensure the effectiveness of one of the larger design teams at Goldman Sachs. I also spend a portion of my time on hands-on experience design, which keeps my UX skills in shape. In that capacity I’m currently working on transforming a manual business process into a digital solution that will save financial services professional’s significant time.  


Q. How does experience design and user experience tie together?

A. User experience (UX) is often defined as the interaction of a user with a product, system or service. I tend to prefer Don Norman’s and Jacob Nielsen’s definition: “User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user's interaction with the company, its services, and its products.” I think this definition is even better if we replace “end-user” with “human.” The terms “user” and “customer” sound abstract and too often we forget the human aspects of experience design. When it comes to user experience, I like to talk about humans or people, which allows us to also include employees in the experience ecosystem. With this understanding of UX, experience design is, simply put, the discipline of improving the human experience within a certain ecosystem. To give an example, the ecosystem of a dental exam involves the interactions between patient, dentist, assistants, machines, physical space and digital systems. Experience design breaks down into many sub-disciplines because of what it takes to improve a process.


Q. When companies are investing in streamlining processes, why and how do approaches like service design work well?

A. Service design strives to create an understanding of the end-to-end journey of the people and systems involved in a business process and how they interact with each other. It pays particular attention to the touchpoints that connect one interaction, person or system with another. To give an example, a publishing process I recently mapped out involved the aspects of creating, editing, reviewing, approving and publishing content, as well as compliance, marketing, sales and communication with clients. This process involves different systems, teams and individuals that all need to play in harmony. Service design methods are great for uncovering inefficiencies and issues that often aren’t very visible because of the silo-ed nature of the different teams. A service blueprint or customer journey map can create that shared understanding of these issues across the teams and hence facilitate the discussion and planning of improvements.


Q. Why is it important to design beyond the product?

A. The term “product” is pretty vague and we can’t assume that everyone has a shared understanding of what the "product" is. It is tough to define where the product starts and ends in the publishing process example I mentioned earlier. Human beings moving naturally from experience to experience as they go about their day don’t think in terms of products. A person depositing a check into a bank account doesn’t think about “product” in the moment they interact with the digital touchpoint. Before we jump into designing product features, we need to walk in the person’s shoes to create an experience that maps to people’s mental models. 

Organizations that only care about the product need to realize that they are focusing on one slice of the experience. While that slice might be the most important revenue driver, it might not provide an overall great experience or satisfy core needs. A myopic product lens might lead to missed business opportunities. We can avoid this by taking a holistic view of the experience ecosystem that involves all actors, including employees. If we give employees tools that are intuitive and efficient, they will be more successful in serving customers. 

Design beyond the product moves the discussion away from features to the jobs being done and the desired outcomes. It considers the customer/user as a human being and supports the creation of a human experience. 


Q. How has your role evolved over the years as a user experience designer? And how do you think it will involve in the future?

A. I have worked in this field for over 15 years. In the early years, there wasn’t much talk about user and customer experience or service design. The focus was very much on the aspects of UI only. Over time, user experience as a field thankfully evolved to become a holistic approach with effective methodologies and tools which I learned over time “on the job”. Now that we UX professionals bring strategic value to the table, this field has become much more exciting. About six years ago, I was given the opportunity to build a UX organization and consider how that fits into an enterprise corporation. This forced me to think about experience in terms of interacting systems, individuals and teams. 

Experience design continues to evolve rapidly as more and more companies invest in digital transformation. New technologies and emerging trends mean we professionals must consider things like AI, voice, VR, AR and blockchain. We need to adapt our skills to be able to do work in these areas, which is not easy as tools and methodologies are still in their infancies. This constant change keeps experience design interesting for me, personally.