The Courier-Mail - Career One - - News & Advice - CARA JENKIN

PRO­VID­ING con­sumers with what they want is key to suc­cess in the ser­vice in­dus­try and a new trend has or­gan­i­sa­tions hir­ing an­thro­pol­o­gists to find so­lu­tions.

So­ci­ol­ogy and an­thro­pol­ogy have been iden­ti­fied as among the top five most sought-af­ter skills of 2030 in re­search com­mis­sioned for global learn­ing com­pany Pear­son, which also lists the im­por­tance of so­cial per­cep­tive­ness and psy­chol­ogy.

An­thro­pol­o­gists gather and an­a­lyse in­for­ma­tion on so­cial and cul­tural be­hav­iour, study­ing the ori­gin, de­vel­op­ment and func­tion of hu­man so­ci­eties and cul­tures as they ex­ist now, or have ex­isted in his­tory.

Aside from his­tor­i­cal preser­va­tion or un­der­stand­ing of var­i­ous cul­tures, an­thro­pol­ogy can be used for hu­man­cen­tred de­sign, from build­ing new rail­way plat­forms to pro­vid­ing clean drink­ing wa­ter.

Peo­ple’s Choice Credit Union is one white-col­lar or­gan­i­sa­tion em­ploy­ing an­thro­pol­o­gists to help en­sure the ser­vices it de­liv­ers will meet cus­tomers’ needs.

Deputy chief ex­ec­u­tive Dar­lene Mat­tiske-Wood says its op­er­a­tion has a strong mem­ber-fo­cused ap­proach and needs to pro­vide con­tem­po­rary ser­vices which also prove to be money well spent. “We knew that we needed to in­vest in tech­nol­ogy to en­sure we de­liv­ered our ser­vices to mem­bers in a way that they ex­pected,” she says. “The pace of tech­nol­ogy adop­tion is grow­ing faster than ever. We were look­ing at not just how we de­sign some­thing and seek­ing feed­back about it.

“Hu­man-cen­tred de­sign is a process that an­thro­pol­o­gists use, where they ob­serve hu­man be­hav­iour (and in­cor­po­rate that) from in­cep­tion and de­sign, all the way to how we im­ple­ment some­thing, to de­liver a ser­vice or a prod­uct com­bin­ing the psy­chol­ogy of hu­man be­hav­iour and tech­nol­ogy. We need to make sure what we do spend our money on does hit the mark with our mem­bers and make sure we don’t lose the trust of our mem­bers.”

She says, for ex­am­ple, $1 mil­lion was saved by not pro­ceed­ing with tech­nol­ogy which it de­cided mem­bers would not want to use.

Few work­ers, how­ever, have an­thro­po­log­i­cal qual­i­fi­ca­tions or back­grounds, de­spite the de­mand for skilled staff.

Mem­ber de­sign spe­cial­ist So­nia Mas­cianto­nio (pic­tured) holds a PhD in An­thro­pol­ogy and also com­pleted hon­ours study. She had worked in gov­ern­ment in user-cen­tred de­sign be­fore tak­ing up a role at Peo­ple’s Choice.

“My role is about un­der­stand­ing mem­bers and de­sign­ing prod­ucts that meet their needs,” she says. “We ex­plore what’s im­por­tant to peo­ple, we don’t just go in and try to re­solve an is­sue. We are re­ally bring­ing them along on the jour­ney.

“What I love about this role is it gives me an op­por­tu­nity to un­der­stand what is re­ally mean­ing­ful and what our mem­bers need.”

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