Blog / Welcome to the team: Michelle Isme

Michelle Isme
January 28, 2020

Hello, I’m Michelle Isme — the newest Unboxed joiner and latest member of the growing design team.

User testing

I’ve been working “in digital” for the last 14 years, branching out from digital comms and campaigning jobs to more product and UX-focused roles about seven years ago.

Since then, I’ve been working in product management, service design and user experience design — I’m not tied to one particular discipline.

As a product manager, my design background helps me to emphasise with users and deliver experiences to meet their needs; as a designer, I wear my product hat to assess how technically feasible and commercially viable what I’m designing is. The challenge of identifying and solving problems is what makes things interesting; working with people affected by the ‘problem’ to design a better alternative is what makes it satisfying.

Previously, I’ve worked in a tech startup, in the third sector, government, and for my own company. Every job and organisation has taught me something new about my career and myself.

Now, I’m looking forward to experiencing agency life at Unboxed.


Not quite a new face to the team

Although I’ve recently come onboard permanently, I’m not completely new to Unboxed. I’ve been contracting for the last two years and have worked with Unboxed on three projects during that time.

User testing at Hackney Council

User testing at Hackney Council.

The first was a discovery phase with the Department for Transport, exploring the use, need and potential for an open list of charge point data for electric vehicle users. This was followed by a stint at Hackney Council, looking at how to improve the way citizens register for and access online services. Most recently (October to December 2019), I’ve been working on an alpha phase project with Southwark Council & Partners, where I was part of the team prototyping a digital product that helps planning teams to more-quickly and easily assess planning applications from householders.

Sketching prototypes for a new back-office planning system

Sketching prototypes for a new back-office planning system.

Each project has allowed me to dive in and immerse myself in a completely new subject area and meet people with very different work and life experiences to my own.


We’re more than just our jobs though…

I am originally from Sheffield and still feel ‘northern’, despite living in London for the last 12 years.

I am interested in lots of different things… Socially, I like dancing, going to the theatre, and eating out. I tend to be inspired by visual things — art, design (particularly illustration and textile design) and fashion — so I like going to exhibitions, but equally enjoy just wandering around a new area, people watching and soaking up the atmosphere of a place.

My favourite thing of all, though, is to travel — not a particularly cheap hobby, but something worth saving for! I love an adventure… Trekking through jungles, crossing the ocean in rickety wooden boats and getting lost in semi-dangerous places. I find it fascinating to see how other people live: what they eat, how they dress, where they live, what they value, their customs and culture.

Trekking through the jungle in Nicaragua!

Trekking through the jungle in Nicaragua!

I look forward to bringing my varied work and life experience, passion for design and general curiosity to the Unboxed team and I’m excited about the things I’ll learn from my new colleagues and all of the different people that Unboxed works with.