Nicholas Tenhue: In Profile
When it comes to building products in the modern, technology-driven world, most of us probably think we know what it takes to excel. A natural aptitude. Surely. A high-caliber education and thirst for knowledge. Of course. Advanced technical skills—that goes without saying. But while this array of qualities may well serve the most basic elements of business and product development, in that good user experience design is a fundamental requirement of any company intending to stay relevant in their market, UX specialists must have a much more holistic skill- and mind-set. They must not only be top dog—they must run ahead of the pack.
True innovators in the field of user experience must possess a deep toolkit of techniques and methods. They must be self-motivated. And they must have a passion for making others’ lives easier. They must need to be the one who can analyze user requirements and recognize patterns in their behavior. They must need to understand what motivates a user and know why they will benefit from a particular system. And they must have the technical knowledge to deconstruct complex systems and create models/frameworks, to help make sense of them. But perhaps most importantly, a true innovator in the field of user experience must think far outside the box. They must be driven to take risks other wouldn't take--to design something new. And these qualities describe Nicholas Tenhue to the letter.
As a high achieving and outcome-driven leader with a comprehensive skill set spanning research, design, planning, and a successful track record of implementing cross-platform products and services, Nicholas has achieved business goals through implementing UX and product strategies at Fortune 500 companies and startups across the globe. A “democratic” manager and team player with a passion for novel technologies, Nicholas is adept at complex problem-solving and developing frameworks/models in user experience.
Growing up in England in a terraced house with his younger brother, mother, and father, Nicholas spent many summers and winters in Finland (his mother's homeland), and did a great deal of traveling throughout Europe—sparking at a very young age his interest in exploring the world (and probably one of the primary motivations for choosing to study and work in a number of countries). These boyhood travels also sparked his insatiable interest in modern technology.
Obsessed with computers at a very early age, Nicholas played video games and built websites from morning till night (and wishes he still had the time to do so today). He grew fascinated by the way he could recognize patterns in the programming that allowed him to beat video games; and the way games could also paint a rich narrative. “I guess it was the creativity that went into building beautiful game worlds mixed with the logic of computing that really drew me in,” he has said. And he's been building products and designing things ever since.
Work History—in Brief
Today a seasoned user experience leader with almost ten years of applied expertise in creating highly-effective user experiences, Nicholas has, since September of 2016, been User Experience (UX) Manager at Orion Health. Before that he served as User Experience and Product Strategy lead at Cambridge, MA-based Genospace, the data analytics platform serving the healthcare and life sciences industry, where he analyzed the needs and pain points within the healthcare industry to find product/market fit. Applying user-centered design as the driving force behind organizational strategy and execution, Nicholas brought up-to-the-minute innovation and value to the Genospace platform--providing a portfolio of cutting-edge products designed to improve patient outcomes by giving users instant access to analytics and data insights, serving oncologists, pathologists, data scientists, caregivers, and patients in the world of high-tech, precision medicine. Nicholas also ran a full-scale corporate rebranding initiative, leading to better brand recognition, visibility, and public/industry awareness.
Formerly serving as a contract user researcher at London-based Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe, from July 2013 to October 2013 (where he ran usability testing and observation sessions for next-generation game studies on titles such as “Killzone: Shadow Fall” [PS4] and “Driveclub” [PS4]), that same year he co-founded and served as UX/UI lead at the multiplayer running app, RunTroll, before joining the Intel Health and Life Sciences--UK Innovation Team in January of 2014, based in Imperial College London. There he applied data visualization and design to create complex data systems in the fields of genetics, robotic surgery, bio-banking, and EMR (Electronic Medical Record) integration. Then from September 2014 to June 2015, Nicholas took his budding talents to cyber-security innovators Capy Inc., where he served as VP Creative, developing B2B security products that now serve some of the biggest gaming and credit card giants in Japan—while becoming widely known as a master facilitator of communication between designers, engineers, project managers, and executives; creating value through calculated strategy and execution of product development, bridging the gap between business and UX.
Education and Innovation
After graduating University of Portsmouth, in Portsmouth, England (where he earned a Bachelor of Science, Computer Games Technology, First Class Honors, 1st), before shifting his focus from games technology to human-computer interaction. Nicholas did his postgraduate work at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden and University College London, UCL earning a to complete his dual Master of Science (MSc), ICT Innovation. Nicholas also took part in a number of entrepreneurial and educational outreach efforts with EIT Digital, a European, a research and development organization, driving digital innovation & education.
Once shifting his focus to human-computer interaction, Nicholas set up his own award-winning start-up company, RunTroll, a “wellness” app that allows people to run against other people around the world--in real time via Smartphone, which enables those involved to hear whether they are meeting their targets. Nicholas' larger goal with this app is to promote worldwide running marathons in which people can run against one another in different parts of the world, his aim to achieve social change by getting people to run more and be healthier.
Nicholas Tenhue promotes a democratic managerial work style, describing his work-ethic goal as empowering the individuals on his team to do what they need to do. “I'd much rather support and enable people than tell them what to do,” Nicholas explains. “If people need direction, I prefer to supply them with the tools to enable them, rather than dictate and command. I'd much rather provide opportunities for people to grow. This way we learn together--as I provide feedback along the way.”
Nicholas sees part of his role as doing his best to defend his team when under fire--jumping in front of the proverbial bullet, so to speak. Nicholas chooses to celebrate other individuals for their work, and would never take credit for something someone else has accomplished. Nicholas provides his team constant feedback, “because that's the way people learn and grow” and won't be confined to annual peer reviews to give his honest opinion. He believes in openness and transparency, and does not think that hierarchy and the usual “need to know basis” are necessarily positive traits within successful, functioning teams. Perpetually aligning and gaining a shared understanding of purpose, problems, and victories leading to a sense of community, if Nicholas doesn't know the answer to a problem, he tells his team members so, and they work together toward a solution. He makes a point of learning from his mistakes--and expects the same from others. “Many people in Silicon Valley swear by the cliché that 'failure is progress,' and while that may be true, failure without learning is simply failure,” he contends. To learn more about Nicholas' management style, read his management manifesto.
Publication and Kudos
In 2013 Nicholas authored the paper, “Open and User Innovation During the Fukushima Nuclear Crisis” on open source hardware and data in crises, a case study on Safecast, an open radiation monitoring platform developed after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster of March 11, 2011. Presented at the proceedings of the 11th International Open and User Innovation Workshop to some 200 researchers from a range of disciplines including innovation management, strategic management, and entrepreneurship, the national innovation agency Vinnova subsequently featured Nicholas for his academic work on open and user innovation regarding the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in Japan.
In 2014 while completing his MSc at London College, Nicholas wrote his thesis, publishing “Making Sense of Risk by Visualizing Complex Health Data.”
In June of 2016, Nicholas then published, “Do You Have What It Takes to Succeed in User Experience?" featured in uxdesign.cc, a publication about usability, UX design, information architecture, and interaction design.
Then in July of 2016 Nicholas published, “Why We All Need Design Thinking” on CMSWire.com, in which he discusses the evolution, principles, essence, process, and crux of “design thinking.” Subsequently featured on LinkedIn Pulse--in both Design and Big Ideas & Innovation channels (which have some twenty million followers), the article was also cross-posted to Hubspot's Medium publication, ReadThink (which has over sixty-two thousand subscribers). Welcomed by the business community, this article was shared more than two thousand times across social media within the first two days of going live.
“Why We All Need Design Thinking” was followed in August of 2016 by, “Why You Should Journey Map Your Life,” also published on CMSWire.com, a discussion on how “journey mapping” can help businesses understand their customers (and help satisfy their needs) as well as individuals (to model the barriers and opportunities available in one's life).
Media: TV, Blog, Pod-Cast, Newsletter
A leading voice in not just technology but social and mass media, Nicholas was invited to share his vast business expertise on Israeli national television Channel 2, Economy Newscast, in a segment on foreign startups during his time at the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator.
Closer to home, Nicholas manages the tech website theuxblog.com, a resource for user experience professionals to learn about user experience design, user research, and UX strategy.
Nicholas also hosts The UX Blog Podcast, where every week he interviews user experience professionals at various stages of their professional development--from interns to executives—to discuss their careers, recent trends, and current hot topics. Previous guests include Laura Klein, author of Build Better Products and UX for Lean Startups; Donna Spencer, Conference Organizer of UX Australia, who discussed designing a conference experience; Pek Pongpaet, founder of Impekable, a full-service digital agency headquartered in the San Jose Bay Area of CA, who discussed UX patterns to improve mobile e-Commerce; and Dr. Gyles Morrison, a UX designer who worked as a medical doctor for three years but now applies his knowledge and experience in healthcare to digital health projects—thus bridging the gap between the clinical and technical realms. Future podcast episodes with cover a variety of topics in user-centered design, information architecture, user research, UX strategy, and interaction design—all of which will be available on iTunes, Google Play Music, Stitcher, Tunein, and other popular podcast players.
Nicholas also produces The UX Blog Medium publication, providing subscribers the freshest UX design, research, and strategy content from the brightest user experience thought leaders on the planet.
Credentials and Memberships
Founder and former president of EIT Digital Alumni (formerly European Institute of Innovation and Technology), Nicholas is also a former advisory board member of the student-driven NACUE UK, Ltd. (National Consortium of University Entrepreneurs), as well as a member of Interaction Design Foundation and UXPA (User Experience Professionals Association)--two of the world's leading user experience organizations.
An alumnus of Microsoft Ventures Accelerator, Nicholas is recipient of the UCLe startup pitch 1st prize (judged by Airbnb Co-founder and CTO, Nathan Blecharczyk) for RunTroll, selected over five other startups as the best pitch, and the STING Stockholm Innovation and Growth startup award.
Nicholas has also volunteered at a number of highly-significant industry events including ACM CHI (the top conference for human-computer interaction) and Web Summit (Europe's largest technology conference--with over 50,000 in attendance).
Nicholas also specializes in a number of entrepreneurial and technical processes including user experience design, user research (evaluative and generative), usability testing, entrepreneurship / intrapreneurship, Agile development environments, UX strategies for long-term and team growth, design strategy and processes, team leadership and mentoring, design sprints and Lean UX, client and stakeholder management, facilitation of communication between teams, planning and estimation, problem analysis and decision-making, brand & style guide championing, and healthcare IT/precision medicine verticals.
In looking to the bright future, Nicholas Tenhue's plans include developing and nurturing his user experience skills and continuing to lend his expertise to help companies grow; to share his expertise with up-and-coming user experience experts via his mentoring and teaching platform: theuxblog.com; eventually founding a super high-tech company with customer and user experience as the driving force behind company strategy. And in keeping with his boyhood interest in exploring the world, Nicholas intends to live and work in dozens of countries around the globe. Anyone who knows him has no doubt that these plans will all come to full fruition—and much more.