Meet Kevin Dowd, our Design Director. Born and raised in Kildare in the Republic of Ireland, Kevin recently achieved a Distinction grade for his MBA at the University of Warwick before joining our senior team a little over three months ago.
Here, Kevin Dowd discusses his stellar career in design and lecturing; the artists that inspire him; the importance of design in a company’s success; how he achieves the work-life balance; and why he loves the culture here at TransferGo.
“Studying around the world allowed me to experience different cultures and cities…
I’m originally from Ireland but I’ve lived in the UK for 11 years. I’ve studied at different universities in Dublin, Europe, Germany and London and I loved the experience. It was great to experience different cities and cultures whilst learning about design.
I’ve worked in design since I left school at 17. I went straight from there on to a design degree and then carried out some internships at various companies including CBRE, which gave me some invaluable hands-on experience. When I was first learning about design, I made a lot of things with my hands but everything is different now. Things are mainly digital.”
“I had great impressions of TransferGo before I joined. Fintech is a really interesting space to work in…
Before TransferGo, I worked across in-house and agency roles at various companies including Rapp, Momentum, Mind Gym and Simply Business. I’ve also worked in academia, lecturing at different universities including Kingston University. I then Segwayed back into the design industry.
When I applied to work at TransferGo, I already had a great impression of the company. My friend had applied for a job here and said it seemed like a cool place to work. I love how multicultural and diverse the company is and I love what we do. I think fintech and payments are really interesting spaces to be working in.”
“The culture and vibe at TransferGo are great. Working here gives you a sense of autonomy and empowerment…
I started working here in September 2021. I love how we’re empowered to do our own work in a way that supports the business and enables the business objectives. You don’t feel micromanaged on a day to day basis. I think it’s so important to have that sense of autonomy. There’s also accountability and we need that. We need to be accountable for delivering key outputs and tasks. Empowerment is an important highlight of working here.
The vibe at TransferGo is good too. In my first week, I went on a company trip to Vilnius, which was a mad decision in some ways as I didn’t know anybody and I was brand new. But it was the best decision I ever made. I met so many awesome people and it made a huge difference to my onboarding experience. There are so many nice people in the company and that really helped with settling in. Particularly the marketing team—they’re a lovely bunch of people.”
“Having variety in your day is really useful. I feel more engaged and inspired to do things…
I find a blend of working from home and in the office is the best use of my time. It’s energising to be in the office with the rest of the team and working together. But then working from home has a purpose too. It depends on the type of work I’m doing. I always look at my week and decide where’s best to carry out different types of work. Flexibility really works for me. Being able to control where I’m working definitely makes me more productive.
Before the pandemic, I used to feel most productive in the office but lockdown forced me to think about how I can be productive at home. That’s a great thing. Obviously, it was hard not seeing people face to face for a while, but the pandemic really helped with making us all get used to communicating virtually. Now that we’re doing blended working, the variety is great. It’s making me feel less fatigued and I feel more inspired and engaged. Being in the same space all the time can create its own challenges.”
“Design has the ability to connect all the different parts of a business and drive them forward…
I really care about good design. That’s what drives me. Design isn’t just about how something looks—it’s in everything we do. It’s about problem-solving, creativity, customer experience and so much more. It’s a great intersection for all these different activities that happen in a business. I always say that good design is great for business and that’s something we see time again in the top businesses out there that invest in good design practices.
When design or other creative functions are siloed, they become less effective. Having an integrated design function where everything and everyone feels connected is inspiring for me. That way, the most effective teams emerge and it really makes a difference. Inclusion is also really important. I really care about and value diverse working cultures. It’s important to me that the design process is as inclusive as possible and that different communities are represented at work.”
“I’m really proud of the people I’ve been lucky enough to manage. It’s great watching them develop…
I love working with my team, building them up and seeing them go on to manage their own teams. It’s a real point of pride for me and one of my favourite parts of the job.
As a designer and maker, there’s great satisfaction in making things and being creative. I really like thinking of different ways to solve problems. One of the highlights for me was creating a pop-up direct mail for Aviva while working at an agency. There was a lot of craft involved in the project and I really enjoyed the experience.
I’m still at the start of my TransferGo journey so it feels a little premature to say this, but I’m really proud of the ongoing work that Nadim and I have done with the team around employer branding. After looking at TransferGo as an employer from an external point of view a few months ago, I’m now looking at things from an internal point of view. The timing is perfect. Working with the team and presenting things back to the business has been really enjoyable. I’m really proud of it.”
“Having dogs helps me to create a work-life balance. It forces me to break away from my desk and go for a walk…
Having dogs is a good mechanism for thinking about the work-life balance. The dogs always need to be walked and so I have to take a break at lunchtime to walk them. They give me that natural bit of distance from my desk.
TransferGo’s culture also helps with achieving a work-life balance. The company respects boundaries and doesn’t expect responses after a certain time in the evening. There isn’t an expectation that you always have to be online. Once you finish for the day, you can properly switch off. I think that’s important.”
“I’m really interested to see how design can create even more success for TransferGo…
TransferGo is turning 10 next year and it feels like the right time to be thinking about design. What does our brand represent? How can we take it forward to that next phase of growth?
For me, I’m concentrating on how design can enable our next phase of success. I want to see it play a central role within the company and create even more success. It’s something I’m always thinking about.”
“My drawers are stuffed with old magazine cut-outs. I love cutting things out and sticking them back together…
The drawers in my office are stuffed with old magazine and newspaper cut-outs and old bits of material. I do a lot of collage artwork in my spare time. It’s something that I love to do on a free afternoon. You can see my work on Instagram at @KevinDowdArt.
There are so many cool designers out there that I find inspiring. Jessica Walsh is an amazing inspiration; her work is really beautiful. I love Annie Atkins too. She designs for film and worked on The Grand Budapest Hotel, designing all the physical objects and creating the whole aesthetic.
I love Saul Bass too. He did a lot of the design and title sequences for Alfred Hitchcock films. I really like his simple, graphic style. He also said one of my favourite quotes, which is: “Design is thinking made visual.’ I really like that idea of design translating thoughts into structured visual systems.”