A behind-the-scenes look at the people who make us great.
Welcome to the latest edition of the Cogent Crew series, where we invite you to get to know the people who make Cogent what it is.
This month Ivan chats to Ben Rowe, one of our Lead Designers. Ben tells us about mobile app design, the importance of autonomy at Cogent, and his aspirations to tour the world in a rock band.
Name: Ben Rowe
Job: Lead Designer
Time at Cogent: 1 year
Ivan: So how long have you been at Cogent?
Ben: I’ve been at Cogent for actually about a year now. I still keep calling myself the new guy, but probably can’t really say that anymore!
Ivan: Still the newbie?! What does your day to day at Cogent look like? Run me through a typical day at work?
Ben: Yeah, sure. At the moment I’m working onsite with a client about 3 or 4 days a week. I guess my typical day is rarely based in the Cogent office, but more regularly out with the client. We’re working on a big design project at the moment, so I get to work alongside a lot of people in that organisation and I’m leading the design for that project.
Ivan: Nice. How did you get into what you do, into design? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
Ben: In a roundabout sort of way. I think when I was a kid I really loved the idea of art and design. I’m not sure if I knew what the difference between those two things were when I was a kid.
Ivan: Is there a difference?
Ben: I actually studied marketing when I went to university. I looked at the creative aspects of that; the branding, the creativity, and some of the psychology behind it. Understanding people, that sort of thing. Around the age of thirty I realised that marketing wasn’t quite what I wanted to do, so I then went back to what was I like when I was a kid and thought about some art and design. I decided I wanted to pursue a career in design, and it turned out that a lot of the stuff that I learnt in my marketing degree was pretty relevant to design. It took me a while to work it out, but it worked out in the end.
Ivan: Cool. If you could be one other thing professionally, what would it be?
Ben: I think I would have to say a rock star. As well as liking design, I am a big fan of listening to music and playing music. It was probably a dream that I would get into a successful band and tour the world one day! Unfortunately, that didn’t happen but I guess if there was anything that I could be doing other than design, it would be probably that.
Ben at Golden Plains Music Festival with a fellow pink flamingo shirt lover
Ivan: A drummer?
Ben: A drummer, yeah. Well, I play guitar these days so don’t get the drums out quite as often anymore, but that’s what I’ve played most of my life.
Ivan: Yeah. I think where you live, playing the drums is okay. If you were in the suburbs, you’d get complaints from the neighbours!
Ben: Yeah exactly! I mean, I live out in the country on 5 acres, so I probably do have the opportunity to get a drum kit set up. I think at some stage I’d love to get a soundproof room and a drum kit and spend my spare time in there when I get some spare time back!
Ivan: Yeah, cool. So you’ve already mentioned one of the projects you’re working. Any other projects you’re working on at the moment?
Ben: So the one I mentioned before which is taking up most of my time at the moment is working with an established startup who have had an app out for close to 10 years now. It’s time to think about how we would redesign that app, rethinking some of the navigation and the visual design. That’s what I’m doing most of my work on at the moment, but also a second client that I’ve got which is in a totally different space is a mobile app designed to help track mental health outcomes. So I’ve got a couple of really interesting projects that I’m working on with Cogent right now.
Ivan: Which one is the favourite one?
Ben: The one that I’m spending most of my time on I’m finding really rewarding. It’s just a really interesting client that we’re working with. We have a pretty good client fit with a lot of our clients at Cogent, and these guys, in particular, are just very smart, nice people to hang around with. I get along very well with the CEO, he and I have been working together really well. I think it just feels like a really nice place to be, and working on some interesting stuff.
Ivan: What’s your favourite thing about working for Cogent?
Ben: For me, it’s just the autonomy I think. I live out in the country, and I have to juggle my time looking after my kids a little bit during the week. It’s really nice to work for a company that isn’t keeping tabs on you every hour of the day. They treat staff like adults and trust that people will get the work done in the time it suits them. I really enjoy that freedom and the autonomy that we get at Cogent.
Ivan: What’s your favourite thing to do on the weekend?
Ben: Well, I’m pretty busy week during the week commuting into Melbourne from where I live in Kyneton, working on a couple of side projects at night, as well as working during the day, so by the time I get to the weekend I like to take it easy, to be honest. I like my weekends to be the opposite of the go-go-go during the week, so just staying at home, playing a bit of guitar, maybe going to see a band or see a gig, spending time with the family, and if I’m lucky, I might even get a nap in! That sort of thing.
Ben with his family in their home town, Kyneton
Ivan: Yeah. As you get older, those naps become much more important. What’s the best place you’ve ever been to?
Ben: I’d have to say Tokyo. I’ve got a real thing about Japan, and Tokyo in particular. I’ve been there a couple of times but I just have a love affair with it. It’s the only place I’ve been to that I’ve never lived, but I sort of feel homesick about when I think about it. I just really like it. The quirkiness of it, the neon lights, but also it’s really interesting. It’s the sort of place that feels like it is well designed. There are millions of people running around, but it all seems to work quite smoothly which I think is fascinating. Yeah, I would definitely say Tokyo.
One of Ben’s own photos from a trip to Tokyo
Ivan: If you had a private chef for a night, what would you get them to make you?
Ben: Okay, so I’m going to keep on the Japanese theme here and I think I’d probably try and get a sushi chef to come in. I saw that movie a while ago called Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Have you seen that?
Ivan: No, I haven’t
Ben: It’s a documentary about an eighty-five-year-old Japanese chef who spent all of his life trying to perfect the perfect piece of sushi. The documentary is all about finding the perfect piece of fish, and cooking the rice in the perfect way. I think I’d try and get him to come over and cook. I quite like sushi, but probably never really had any very amazing sushi, so maybe get this guy to come over and cook for me.
Ivan: Interesting. What’s the best advice anyone’s given you?
Ben: I think for me, I’ve got a friend who’s also a bit of a mentor and over the years he’s become quite successful. I think one of the reasons for his success is that he’s always got this bit of advice, which is, “The more you give, the more you get.” Spending a lot of your time, and just being being generous with your time, and giving back to people always reaps rewards even though you might not know how that’s going to play out. I think that genuine principle of giving as much as you can is good advice. It’s something that I try and do.
Ivan: Awesome. Thank you!
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