Shipra Bhutada: A User Research & Design Thinking Expert Helping Businesses Transform Their Strategies


Shipra Bhutada: A User Research & Design Thinking Expert Helping Businesses Transform Their Strategies

Shipra Bhutada: A User Research & Design Thinking Expert Helping Businesses Transform Their Strategies

Shipra Bhutada

Today in this fast-paced, technologydriven world, there’s often a question raised to the enterprises and business leaders~ “Who are your users? What are they like? Why would they use your products or services?”. Though they are clear on the stance of their brand, this question keeps echoing in their minds intriguing them to shape the consumer perceptions of their brands. Conclusively, many win the scuffle by converting their beliefs into action by making themselves recognized rather than just existing, while many fail or just cease to exist and disastrously fail due to their weak business strategy and brand execution.

But this is where Shipra Bhutada, an expert in Human-Centered Design comes into the picture, significantly empowering businesses to make well-informed strategic decisions, introducing new concepts, enhancing the business ideologies for the existing products & services, and thereby elevating the end-user experience through her User Connect Consultancy (UCC)- a global user research consultancy. Below are the snippets of an exclusive interview between Women Entrepreneur India and Shipra.

What Motivated You To Foray Into Founding A Boutique User Research Practice? Tell Us About Your Significant Milestones.

I would say, curiosity has fueled both my academic and professional journey Possessing a love for painting, I began on my trajectory career journey right from my childhoodlearning painting and then taking up formal education in arts and design - studying Bachelor of Fine Arts and progressing further to study New Media Design at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. Around 20 years ago, I was the only student to have secured a seat in two disciplines in the post-graduate program that year: Graphic Design and New Media, and thus, I also became the first student from the batch to explore and practice Human-Centered Design/User Research when it was at its nascent stage in India. Later, professionally having had the opportunity to work with Microsoft, D-Labs at Indian School of Business (ISB), and a dedicated research studio named Kern Communications, I metamorphosed from a Usability Engineer to Design Manager, and eventually, Director of User Research acquiring comprehensive expertise in the world of User Research.

]At each step of my journey, I connected with numerous business, design & product leaders, and provided strategic direction to them for their products and businesses And, it was after over 14 years of being a part of such established systems, I founded User Connect Consultancy in Telangana witnessing the scarcity of core specialized User Research companies to provide the business thought leaders with bold, honest, and uncompromising insights.

Today, our niche, remotefirst studio comprises User Research & HumanCentered Design mavericks, visual, infographic designers, and writers who believe in complete immersion into the world of users and understanding and decoding their behavior. Some of the significant milestones that make me feel accomplished are being appointed as the second researcher at Microsoft (IDC), Hyderabad in the very initial period of establishing user research teams, followed by being the Director of User Research for D-Labs at ISB, Hyderabad, and lastly, establishing my own user research firm UCC.

Give A Brief Overview Of Ucc. Also, What Are Some Of Its Unique Features That Set It Apart From Its Contemporaries In The Market?

UCC is a global user research consultancy that puts human connect at the heart of business. In today’s world, where a plethora of products & services are available to the customer, it has become all the more crucial to be user-centric and know the users up & close; hence, UCC plays a decisive role in bridging this gap between business and their end-users by building an unbiased and transparent research system to provide evidence-based research insights that connect the business more intimately to the users. While most of my contemporaries are focused on improving products once they’re built & launched, we’re the first and only exclusive studio in Telangana that is focused on User Research.

I believe that research has a more strategic role to play in defining the fundamentals of designing/ building/ conceptualizing a business or product/service; hence, our core competency and guiding principles are to provide strategic direction to businesses, to add value to what matters to them and build business & product roadmaps. Also, in terms of our physical presence, we’ve reduced the carbon footprint by being a remote-first company, curating the best talent from across the globe, and giving our team the flexibility & comfort to define their work-personal life balance & working hours. This has resulted in having a happy, satisfied, and passionate team that is always looking for opportunities to push the bar and excel at personal & professional levels.

What Are Some Of The Most Challenging Aspects Of Your Role As The Founder And Director Of User Research At Ucc ? How Do You Overcome Those?

User research is still at its nascent stages in terms of people’s awareness of it, and appreciating the value it adds to building a business or product. A lot of businesses feel that they do not need dedicated user research engagement as their marketing and product teams are already 'talking' to their customers. What they tend to miss and undervalue is that it takes years of practice to pick the nuances of human behavior; gauge the undercurrents & triggers that define those behaviors, and map & understand their eco-systems and decision-making process.

"UCC is a global user research consultancy that puts human connect at the heart of business"

Hence, being the Founder & Director of User Research at UCC, I seek to help prospective clients and stakeholders by investing a lot of time to help them understand how structured and focused user research is different from just 'talking' to the customer. The process also entails workshops and brainstorming sessions that help them embed user research in their cultural fabric and practice research at every opportunity they find to connect with and understand their real users intimately.

How Do You Keep Yourself And Ucc Well Aligned With The Periodic Evolutions Occurring Within Your Respective Field?

User research is a growing field with more businesses getting interested in leveraging it, and it’s slowly moving towards the position of finding a seat at the table beside product & design verticals- with an equal footing. So, evolution has been a constant thing in this domain and we’ve been keeping up with it, synchronizing well with the technology and trends through advanced SNS, institutional, industrial forums, convocations, and more.

As A Successful Entrepreneur, What Would Your Advice Be To Young Women And Girls Who Aspire To Become Business Leaders And Entrepreneurs In The Future?

Dream enough and dream big! Believe in yourself and focus your energies on self-development & growth; show up when an opportunity knocks on your door. Be driven with passion and have a plan to achieve your goals.

Shipra Bhutada, Founder & Director User Research

Shipra, a P.G. in New Media from the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad is an expert in User-Centered Design and holds extensive experience in working on strategic projects that have the potential to impact the design and business of products & services, across diverse domains, some of which are health care, automobile, travel, mobile communication, software and product designs serving companies like Microsoft, Medtronic, Asian Paints, Aarogya Setu, Sixt, GoIbibo, OPPO, MMT, MPL, and 3M to name a few. She is also the President of ADI (Association of Designers of India) Hyderabad Chapter.