Austina De Bonte
Austina is a speaker, coach, consultant, and change agent. During her 16-year career at Microsoft, she was an intimate part of the company’s ﬁrst forays into online services. She led program management of the early versions of the popular MSN Messenger Service and experienced ﬁrsthand the value of a user-centered design approach. In 2008, Austina conceived and founded the Scenario-Focused Engineering initiative to help accelerate Microsoft’s shift toward a more customer-focused, iterative approach to design and product development. Austina has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science from MIT and did her thesis work in the Epistemology and Learning Group of the MIT Media Lab. She currently teaches with Labas, a children’s Lithuanian folk dance group in Seattle, and is also president of the board of directors of the NWGCA.
Drew is an educator, speaker, and consultant, currently living in the Seattle area. Following a career as a professional musician, Drew spent 20 years at Microsoft, where he led teams that delivered many innovative products, including the ﬁrst versions of Visual Basic, Visual J++, Visual C++, and Visual C#. Known as a strong customer advocate, Drew joined Microsoft’s Engineering Excellence team in 2008 as the director of program management. There, he teamed up with Austina to develop and champion the Scenario-Focused Engineering effort. Drew has a BSBA in international management from Boston University. As an avid backcountry climber and skier, Drew is an active ﬁeld member of Seattle Mountain Rescue and serves on their board of directors.
Jeanine Spence is an design strategist working with companies of all sizes to imagine innovative solutions that deliver customer value. Having worked on both the engineering and design sides, she draws together the vision and the plan to deliver unique experiences. She believes in the power of listening closely to people to understand their challenges and ambitions and accepts that not everything needs a technology solution. But when technology is needed, then that is when it gets really interesting. She shares this passion in her industry talks and workshops ranging across inclusive design, design thinking, scenario planning, ideation and iteration, and strategic prototyping. She is the lead author of the Customer Experience Capability Model, a strategic framework teams use to examine their current skills against exemplary examples and define a transformation roadmap. Jeanine received her bachelors in Philosophy from Reed College and her Masters of Industrial Design from Rhode Island School of Design. Keeping up with the youth, she is involved with Destination Imagination and teaching design thinking at local schools.
Kent Sullivan has a degree in Technical Communication from Purdue University, and he’s been practicing user research professionally for over 27 years. Kent believes strongly that integrating insights extracted from diverse data sources (design research, market research, telemetry, social networking, etc.) greatly increases the chances of those insights being breakthrough in nature. Kent has spent years fostering deep collaboration among team members and recognizes how hard it is to achieve this in a high-pressure corporate environment.
During his long tenure at Microsoft, it was Kent’s pleasure to work on a wide variety of products, especially Windows 95, where he led the exploratory user research that produced the taskbar and Start menu, as well as the iterative research that helped nail down the details. Since leaving Microsoft recently, Kent has plunged headfirst into the “gig economy” and is partnering with a number of like-minded colleagues on a variety of projects.
Through his work on the Scenario-Focused Engineering (SFE) project at Microsoft, Kent discovered that he has a passion and talent for helping engineering teams understand why it makes business sense to be customer focused, and what sorts of practices, behaviors, tools, and processes they need to adopt to change their cultures. Kent provided much of the content behind the user research chapter in the SFE book.
Derek is a UX designer and user researcher. Alongside Kent Sullivan, Derek was one of the original hires at the User Research Labs at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington. He has done user research for dozens of products, logging thousands of hours of studying people using technology. He’s also been a program manager and user experience designer for Microsoft Visual C++ and Visual Studio. His credits include collaborating with Kent Sullivan on the user research that led to the “Start” button in Windows, designing much of the Microsoft Visual Studio user interface, the Microsoft Access Query Window, Microsoft Visual Basic’s Properties Window and Object Selection Model, major research projects that have affected the Microsoft Server product line, and more. Derek also helps people build personal platforms, including tech personalities, and several music acts. He’s a recording engineer, has run his own record label under a deal with Sony Music in Nashville, and has had multiple releases on Billboard sales and radio charts.