Meet the Team: John Roberts, UX Designer
Our feature series “Meet the Team,” gives our readers the opportunity to take a deep dive into what makes our team special. We asked John Roberts, our newest UX Designer at Air Force CyberWorx, to introduce himself to our readers and tell the story of his entry into the UX Design world. Please enjoy getting to know our innovative team members and exploring the people who make CyberWorx exceptional.
How does a 6-foot-6-inch, tattoo-covered ex-soldier enter the world of user experience design? The answer is a winding road of life changes.
My name is John Roberts, and I am the newest UX Designer at CyberWorx. Despite having only started in mid-December, it is clear to me that AF CyberWorx is my home. I love the challenge of solving complex problems through design.
Searching for Career Passion
It’s important to note that throughout my life, I had consistently been searching for my true passion. I joined the Army after two years of college because I felt the direction I was heading had no real purpose in my life.
I decided to sign up to be a Cryptologic Linguist in the Army’s military intelligence program and ended up going to the hardest school of my life. There, I learned Arabic for nearly two years in Monterey, CA.
This school took students from zero knowledge to fluent as quickly as possible. “Drinking from the firehose” didn’t come close to how that school felt. When I passed, I moved on to my career as a Signals Intelligence soldier at Fort Bragg.
Then, my life took a sharp turn when I had major, career-ending foot surgery.
Career Direction Takes a Turn
With running, rucking, and jumping out of planes no longer an option, I medically separated from the Army. Afterward, I went back to school to finish my degree. This time, I pursued cybersecurity, as I felt it would be a good segue from my military service.
However, I realized I was much more into strategic thinking than the nitty-gritty of the cybersecurity profession. That’s when I took a course in UX Design. Getting to the root of users’ problems, testing hypotheses, and crafting effective solutions became my muse. Immediately, I knew I had found my passion.
I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Information Science and jumped into a master’s program in Interaction Design and Information Architecture (a fancy way to say UX Design).
Here, my love for the field only deepened. I created my own path forward in the UX Design industry while working on my master’s degree and dove into the world of Digital Marketing.
First UX Design Successes
Beginning as an SEO professional, I quickly rose into management. This deepened my expertise across all forms of digital marketing. All the while, I kept true to my goal of UX in the forefront of my mind. To that end, I convinced my agency to let me create a UX department and test out my skills.
It turned out to be a success. One of my most rewarding UX accomplishments to date was converting a client who only wanted to be involved for a maximum of six months into an ongoing client. We ended up doing multiple projects for them. The client was repeatedly impressed by the design process and the solutions we created to suit their needs.
Career Passion Found: Holistic UX Design at CyberWorx
Five minutes into the interview, I knew CyberWorx was the place for me. The environment is one of pure design and innovation. Everything from the sticky notes and whiteboards, to the comfy chairs in the common area, screams collaboration and teamwork.
I had been craving this sort of pure design environment. The CyberWorx team was so intelligent and well-spoken during my interview that I couldn’t help but picture my career here.
With a background in mostly digital UX design, I was excited to help the Air Force and other partners with problems ranging from organizational to digital. AF CyberWorx will help me create a more holistic view of user experience design, while continually challenging my methods of thinking through problems from a human-centered design perspective.
At the end of the day, every designer just wants to solve problems for others. That’s why our industry is so focused on understanding the user, their issues, and their needs with any given system. Our problem-solving style is equally effective with both digital and non-digital problems. I had never considered this before CyberWorx opened my eyes.
In the few weeks since being here, I have already spoken with high-ranking officers, contributed to critical CyberWorx projects, and expanded my understanding of Air Force structure. I am excited about our current projects and our various approaches to get to the heart of the problem and craft an effective solution.
I also truly appreciate (and want to brag about) my amazing support system: my wife and family. Savannah has been a driving factor in pushing me to pursue my passion for UX, as well as my non-career passions, including powerlifting, streaming, gaming, movies, comics. Along with my two dogs and two cats, my family keeps me on my toes and ready for anything.
Continued Growth in Crafting Solutions
I originally got into UX Design simply because a college course really spoke to me. My wife loves to say that no one gets more frustrated about an unusable website than me. That spark has turned into a lifelong career and passion for crafting solutions.
CyberWorx is somewhere I can contribute in a meaningful way to the overall mission and continue to increase my knowledge from my peers, projects, and systems. This goofy, geeky dude has found a home with like-minded design professionals, and I am beyond excited to see what the future holds!