Humans of Open Universities Australia: Meet Robbie

Meet Robbie Cappuccio, the UX Trade Lead at Open Universities Australia. He sits down to share what his role is, and why he loves being a "problem finder" at our organisation. 

Humans of Open Universities Australia banner with smiling Robbie

Tell us your name and your role at Open Universities Australia. 

I’m Robbie Cappuccio (sounds like cappuccino, just without the n), and I’m the UX Trade Leader. ‘UX’ means ‘user experience’, and it consists of all aspects of a person’s interaction with an organisation, its services, and its products. 

The ‘Open Universities Australia experience’ is defined by the feelings, emotions and memories accumulated by whoever interacts with us.

My role as leader of the UX department (trade) is to build capability, aiming at a UX-infused user-driven organisation, where good design happens no matter who is making the decisions, thus leading to a great user experience. Part of my role is also hands-on, talking to our users and designing solutions to their needs. 

What was your role when you started and how has it changed?

I was hired for this role one year ago. That said, it changes every day, as there are always new challenges to identify and new opportunities to explore.

What led you to work at Open Universities Australia and why?

After many years of consulting, I was looking for an in-house role. Open Universities Australia caught my attention because of the sector in which we are operating, education. Then I got more and more excited during the interview process as I learned about the organisation, its mission—to transform lives through education—and its values: continuously improve, care for each other and act for customer. 

What really sold me was a question by my manager, Chris Billing, during the final interview: “What’s more important for you, the role or the company and culture?” he asked. I did not hesitate for one second. The right role in the wrong company makes your life miserable. If the values and vision resonate with you, that’s when you are happy and can give 110%. 

What do you do every day to transform lives through education?

I strive to understand people's needs. I call myself a problem finder. If you understand people's needs and frustrations, then you can identify the right problem to solve, design (or even better, co-design) a solution, and then build it right.

What is your favourite part of your role?

Knowing that if we do a great job at what we are doing, we will make someone’s life better. I wear quite a few different hats, and I love them all. I get a kick out of working with the experience lead group to draw an experience vision and strategy. That flag in the sand that will enable us to design a great experience for both students and university partners. And Open Universities Australia  employees first and foremost.  

What is your proudest moment or career highlight during your time at Open Universities Australia?

Managing to get out of the escape room during our Trade’s team-building afternoon last year made me pretty proud of myself and my trade mates. Jokes aside, it is a tangible example is how we successfully designed, tested and iterated a nifty solution for a new service in a very tight time frame! We managed to do it through collaboration. We involved multiple people, beyond our design trade, to ideate solutions based on business requirements and user needs. We then tested the solutions and iterated them to reach the best possible one.

What would you say to students thinking about taking the leap into online study?

I would start by quoting Einstein: "Never regard study as a duty, but as an enviable opportunity to learn—to know the liberating influence of beauty in the realm of the spirit for your own personal joy, and to the profit of the community to which your later works belong.” 

In more practical terms I would add: "Take your time to understand your goal, so your leap is not in the dark". 

I would finish by reminding them: "And remember that we are here to guide you there!"

What would you say to someone thinking about working for Open Universities Australia?

It is a small organisation with a great purpose. I think it is the best place to work if you are not afraid to try things, fail and iterate, and are comfortable with exploring ambiguity to find a solution. I would ask them the same question I've been asked: "How important are purpose and culture to you?"  

What do you do when you’re not working behind the scenes at Open Universities Australia? How does this make you a better employee?

I try to play music. Music is my passion, not a hobby. I learned to play many instruments (all equally poorly) and studied a lot: harmony, arrangement. When I play or listen to music, I pay attention to every line and how the structure works and blends. Yet, music is the form of art that can bring me to tears as its emotional impact can be overwhelming (clearly, I am not referring to pop music nor boom-boom music).

Finally, tell us a fun fact about you!

I can tell you two:

  1. When I was working as scuba diving instructor, I used to feed sharks.
  2. I can play two saxophones at once!

Want a career like Robbie's?

Learn what it takes to start a career in UX, or start by exploring the courses below. 

UX Design 1

UX Design 2

UX Design 3

User Experience (UX) Design

Graduate Certificate in User Experience Design