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Design Scholar, Thomas Girard

Thomas Girard is a Canadian design scholar, user experience consultant, lecturer and speaker. Girard is an independent designer who works on freelance projects and collaborates with artists globally as well as teaching students. He is best known for his TEDx talks.


Joining us all the way from Vancouver in Canada, Thomas discusses his role as a design scholar and explains exactly what it entails.

So, Thomas is a designer by training. Around 5 years ago when he returned to graduate school, he got accepted a place at the University of Oxford. He started winning emerging scholar awards from Canada, Barcelona and Madrid.

Thomas was born and educated in Vancouver. Shortly after he graduated, he moved to the East. He lived in Shanghai for 4 years and New Deli for just over 1 year. Whilst he lived over there, Thomas taught design in those places.

After he returned from living in the East to come back to Vancouver, he won his first emerging scholar award. After that, he joined Emily Carr University of Art and Design as an instructor. Thomas taught design there for 4 years.

What Do You Teach?

In the 4 years that Thomas worked there, he taught interaction design and user experience. It means designing for phones and websites but also the process around it. The actual term for his job is Interaction design and its mainly to designing products or services that are digital.

Girards role is more about the process of Interaction design. For example, if he has an app idea, his role is to find out who its made for and how to talk to those people. You also need to know how to understand the people in order to make the right thing and how to quickly get sing-off from stake holders. He calls these elements design processes. This is what he does mostly.


The Design Process

They might start with a simple role play conversation about hypothetically what a product may be. He’ll quickly move it in to something pretty basic like a prototype made out of paper. This is done so that they can turn out some quick ideas and make sure they’re not investing too much in building something before its ready. They then move up to a higher fidelity prototype which is a mock up. It’s quite comparable to the real thing but hasn’t been coded yet or something like that. This strategy is used so that the problems are worked out as quickly as possible.


Becoming a Public Speaker

Being a public speaker would usually be Thomas’s last choice. He realised at design school that every week he would have to do a presentation in front of everybody. He soon built a thick skin doing it every week in a situation like that. Once he did the Tedtalk he was prepared introverted public speaker he jokes.

ted, tedtalk,public speaker

A couple years ago when he was teaching at Emily Carr, he heard that Ted was there. He had arranged to meet the organiser. What he noticed is that they didn’t have many speakers so Thomas approached them out of generosity to ask if they have enough speakers.


What Thomas didn’t realise back then was that speaking at a TedEx was a competitive thing that lots of people want to do. He had no idea. The organiser was trying to steer Thomas away but he was going to run with it. Eventually he asked Thomas what his idea worth sharing was. Thomas told the organiser his idea was about spending time in airports. This seemed to resonate with him being a guy that travels a lot. Luckily this lead him a spot as a TedEx speaker!

To find out more about Thomas and what he does, check his page out here.

Kevin Appleby is the Business Accountants Mentor and is COO at GrowCFO. He also hosts the GrowCFO Show, a podcast dedicated to finance leaders. You can get in touch with Kevin directly here.


Graham Arrowsmith hosts on the next 100 days podcast

Graham Arrowsmith runs Finely Fettled a marketing consultancy that helps businesses market to the affluent. Additionally, he is about to launch a new business called Meet Professionals, which introduces people looking for financial advice to Financial Advisers.

Contact Graham Arrowsmith or Tori-Jade Rhodes at:

Check out this podcast on Interior designs for something similar. Click here.

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