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Humans of Creative Episode 3: TJ Harrop

Ever wished you were working on a project for one of the biggest and most known companies in the world? - Because that’s precisely where TJ Harrop found himself at the start of his career. 

In Episode 3 of Humans of Creative, we talk through TJ’s career timeline from starting as a developer to designing the Apple Store to his role today as an operations designer in Australia. You’ll also hear all the lessons, both personal and professional, he’s learned along the way. 

Back in 2008, TJ worked on a campaign with Apple to design the Apple Store, before it was the Apple Store we know today. Because back then, Apple wasn’t too big on retail. So they needed to work out how retail would work for them. 

However, it was near the start of his career, and this was no small project. Despite that, TJ prevailed, as he found that designing a retail outlet relies on the same skills needed to make user-friendly software. 

Now TJ works as an Operations Designer for the New South Wales Department of Customer Service, where he builds design systems that bridge the gap between creativity and technology. 

Don’t forget to download, watch or listen to the full podcast here.

The many hats you wear to build a product

Bringing a product to life needs a varied skill set. There are elements of coding, design, engineering and more.

“I actually cared about getting a product to exist. So I have some development skills there, like sort of engineering, but I'm a designer, and manage design systems and do design ops”.

However, finishing the product is only the first step. There’s still a long way to go before it’s truly finished.

“And then when it gets to a point where you go, I've actually made that, you've got to think that's just the start. I've now got to go back over a few times. Make sure the whole thing works absolutely perfectly”.

Your interests are your strengths

It’s hard to tell what your strengths are and what you genuinely like doing. It’s even harder to channel that same excitement when you tell others what you do. 

“I guess I've come to realise now that I quite like operationalising things, which is something you don't realise that as a teenager, it's also something it's pretty hard to say to someone in their 30s, to be honest, doesn't sound very interesting at all”.

However, when your skills and interests combine, you find what you enjoy. And once you’ve found it, the passion never dies. For TJ, it’s being both entrepreneurial and creative at the same time - and he uses those skills wherever he can. 

“When you put that together with something that's sellable as a skill, or a product, that's when things come together, and you start with the business. I still keep setting up websites for business ideas that I have now”.

How to bounce back from being let go

TJ had never been let go before. But sometimes, things don’t go to plan, and what you thought was right wasn’t what the other side wanted. 

"And it was, like, I'd done the wrong thing. Because I thought I'd found something better".

It was a real knock to his confidence. However, the experience was a learning curve - and it definitely didn’t hold TJ back. He took it on the chin, learned his lesson and continued to move forward. 

Which brings him to where he is today, all the way in Australia. In the face of Brexit and the right opportunity at the right time, TJ found himself with an offer he couldn’t refuse and left the UK behind. 

It was a pleasure talking with TJ, and we hope it shows you how your skills, interests and taking action at the right time can take you to places you’d never expect. Be sure to watch the full inspiring episode here, and subscribe to the podcast.

Download or Watch the Full Episode Now

That was only a taste of TJ's unique career path and story. 

For the rest of this fascinating episode, head over to your favourite streaming platform, or watch it via our site, here.


Watch the full episode here.

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