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60 seconds with…Client Services Director, Martin Pownall

Martin has grown to become quite a ‘permanent fixture’ at IDS. Find out more about his recent change in role and what’s been keeping him active during lockdown.

You’ve grown to become quite a ‘permanent fixture’ at IDS. Tell us about your background with the company…

I’ve been involved since the start of the IDS story, which began back in 2013.

Nick (IDS founder) and I go back a long way, having both worked with and consulted for a number of design and digital agencies over the years.

My background is in design, UX and information architecture, and when the IDS team first came together, my user centric focus was sought to ensure we always concentrated on what truly mattered in the projects we embarked upon – delivering generation-defining technologies that genuinely change the lives of people, not just the developers who have brought them to life.

And how has your role changed since then?

I’m now Client Services Director, which effectively sees me champion excellence on behalf of our customers. I therefore still get to wear my UX ‘hat’, and I’m lucky enough to still be able to put my design skills to good use. However, I’m also a voice internally for the client – and their users – to ensure the usability of our innovations, is second to none.

Sounds varied – is that what you like most about your role?

Certainly – that and the people. My colleagues here in the UK – as well as in the USA and Belarus – have a wealth of talent, but we all genuinely get a kick out of working on inspiring projects that challenge the status quo. These projects keep our minds busy and our skills sharp.

Sometimes a tech entrepreneur will come to us with what – to the untrained eye – may seem like a massively under-developed idea. But we know what we’re looking for and understand the difference we can make to the long-term success of such innovations. That’s why our tech accelerator programme has become such a game changer in the SaaS world.

But we’re not just about working with start-ups. From conducting technical due diligence assignments to becoming retained technical partners for enterprise software products, we’re here to put our expertise to good use, and I’m lucky to work alongside, genuinely, some of the best people in their fields.

You mentioned keeping your skills sharp? Aside from your own colleagues, how do you remain abreast with what’s hot in UX?

The tech sector has a really supportive peer-to-peer community and the same can be said for the world of design and UX. I’m involved in various forums, as well as more formal collectives such as the Invision Design Leadership Group and Interactive Design Foundation. I genuinely enjoy remaining abreast of industry trends so ongoing professional development is not a chore – especially when there are so many great online seminars running.

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve encountered in your role recently?

Probably the challenges that most of the working population has encountered – namely, those associated with lockdown! IDS operates from three core locations worldwide, so as a team we’re used to not all being in the same room. But we do have the camaraderie of each of our offices, and I think we’ve all missed that during the prolonged periods of being remote.

Certainly, in the earlier months of the pandemic, many clients turned their budgets off too. Thankfully these decisions were relatively short lived, mostly while they battened down the hatches temporarily to take stock and re-validate the need for any technical investments, given the economic backdrop.

Then work – including new enquiries – started to come back on-stream, and at pace. We began to develop some new platforms based on our own internal innovations too, which helped keep our skill-sets ripe and our colleagues energised. It’s in our DNA to problem solve using software development, so that’s what we did – even during the height of Covid-19.

And what keeps you busy outside of work?

I spend a lot of time with my family – lockdown or no lockdown – and I’m a keen cyclist. I’ve had a bike since I was very young, enjoying mountain biking as a kid, before getting really into road cycling in the last couple of years.

I got back into it again when I joined the Lion Strong team that I met through my PT strength and conditioning sessions. Surrounded by triathletes, there’s not really any option but to take it seriously, and I’ve really enjoyed racking up the miles.

Obviously Covid restrictions have meant we haven’t been out on as many group rides as we’d have liked, so I’ve taken to Zwift and have still managed to clock almost 4,000 miles over the past 12 months.

I’m currently training for the 150-mile 1-day coast-to-coast challenge to raise money for a charity, so watch this space as I’ll be looking for donations to a worthy cause close to my heart!

Thank you, Martin. Up next, is IDS Group’s Head of Programme Management, Rita Lutikova. See you in April, to learn more about our certified scrum master…


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