Diversity – the human factor

14 Jul 2022 3min read

In June 2022, UK’s Sheffield Hallam University announced it was closing its English Literature degree course. A debate followed in the press over the value of humanities degrees. I was glad to see many people echoing the thoughts I’ve had about the value of an English degree. It made me, in turn, reflect on the value of diversity in a consultancy like Team Consulting.

As an English graduate working amongst engineers, ergonomists and industrial designers, I often reflect on how my degree led me into human factors (HF). I chose to read English at university because I loved the subject. Who could resist a course entitled “English Literature, Life and Thought from 1350 to the present day”? I wasn’t thinking about how to build skills for a future career but it happened anyway.

A degree in English Literature teaches you to think critically about information and the biases that may have influenced it. It develops the skills that allow you to determine what argument you can rationally make from the data in front of you and other established fact. You learn to read quickly, pick out key information and summarise clearly. It encourages attention to detail and open curiosity.

I started to conduct user research at Team 20 years ago and soon realised that these skills have a part to play in the world of HF. When I heard Ron Kaye, former Head of Human Factors at the FDA, say that HF is ‘a game of words, not numbers’ and that an HF/usability engineering report is a ‘summing-up in front of the jury’, I knew that this was a game I could play.

human factors study

Team’s HF group is, I believe, stronger for its diversity. My colleagues have degrees in a variety of subjects, including ergonomics, human factors, product design engineering, mechanical engineering, psychology and design. One of our senior consultants has a degree in chemistry and a PhD in biotechnology. They have different strengths and experiences which I learn from every day. I’m glad they’ve found room for an English graduate in their midst and I hope we will continue to embrace diversity in background, skills and outlook as the group continues to develop and grow.

Human Factors at Team Consulting

We’re always looking for experienced HF professionals to add their skills and abilities to our diverse group. Team is known for our work in combination products, but we also have a flourishing business in MedTech and diagnostics and a growing capability in digital health. Head over to our careers page to find out more.

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