Category: Baseline shift

Career journeys of Reading Alumni: Kelly Batchelor and Peter Wright

In the penultimate week of Spring term, we had the honour of being joined by two Reading alumni: product designers, Peter Wright and Kelly Batchelor. In this session, both guests shared insight into the ups and downs in their broad and successful careers in an engaging and inspiring talk, really displaying the number of possibilities lying ahead for Reading graduates.

Peter Wright

In 2001, Peter joined the University of Reading, attending six different courses in his stay, from Spanish to Maths before settling on the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication. Peter explains he is often motivated by new things and would form a pattern in his career from working in various different companies in a number of roles.

Initially working in advertising, Peter learned to code, and tell stories within client-facing agencies for clients such as Honda and Mercedes. Before it was commonplace, he worked on in-store touch screen experiences for, as well as creating 3d walkthroughs of cars for Audi.

A 3d walkthrough for an Audi

Peters’s next job was unlike any other, working for the London 2012 Olympic Games. The International Athletic federation wanted their creative platform redesigned for opening and closing ceremonies. This would include both physical handout memorial brochures and online services. Here, Peter would get to witness history, attending rehearsals and meeting athletes, as well as planning a photoshoot with the Olympic torch.

Chapter three in Peter’s career took him close to his users, something he really enjoyed experiencing. This was whilst leading design for an internal innovation hub at M&S. He spent time with the most senior people in the company and the Head of Research, discovering what problems they had in order to compose a digital or physical solution. This resulted in having vending machines for hosiery and providing a recipe app for users.

His next posts was at a mental health start up app called Utter, where millions were raised to help build a platform that would allow people to better communicate with people suffering mental health conditions. Peter connected well with this project, as he himself had to have a year out of university in 2002 due to mental health issues. Unfortunately a suitable product market couldn’t be found and the project was eventually with money returned, however, Peter does not rule out revisiting the project in the future.

The ‘Utter’ app display

The challenges wouldn’t stop there for Peter, who’s next projects were at Google, helping small–medium businesses grow on Google Maps. Working for Google brought many career benefits yet proved be a difficult political challenge and, after a year, he joined a different team to work on wearables, specifically the smartwatch system, ‘Wear OS’.  The fundamentals of the operating system and third–party applications for mental health and fitness were already in place. However, working on such a small screen (30mmx30mm) with limited memory brought many limitations.

‘Your never bored as long as you’re learning’–Peter Wright

Peter was not prepared to stop learning, and moved on once again, this time to Spotify, the massively popular music streaming application. Most music apps have very similar products and functions to offer, as well as maintaining a similar interface. Peter’s job here was to help differentiate Spotify from the competition. One of the product launches was ‘car thing’, a screen for older cars that do not have Apple or Google car tech built-in. Another was a small physical hardware device that plays music via Spotify.

Maintaining Peter’s trend of working with big companies, he would advance further in his career, his next stop, Facebook. The choice to join Facebook (now Meta), was a conflicting one for Peter regarding design ethics and whether Facebook does more harm than good in the world. However, he joined the team due to the Oversight board team. This team consists of global human rights experts that control content moderation justification over Facebook, reporting content based upon the set policies. Peter describes this team as a kind of Supreme Court for online free speech within Facebook – they would have ethical debates within their team to ensure respect for free expression through independent judgement.  As well as spending time on the public facing website, Peter also worked with the Tooling team, helping them be more efficient, and here he would work much closer with the user base, something Peter enjoys. Further duties included data transparency. Peter, believing heavily in ethical design, also believes that all company data should be made publicly available. He would therefore, work across the company to give journalists better access to information regarding how Facebook works. It holds Facebook to account and separates journalism into fact and fiction.

Currently, Peter is redefining and diversifying one of the world’s biggest sites, the de facto for breaking news, Twitter. Meanwhile, Peter also has a sustainable toy company which he founded with his brothers, Playpress. This is a cardboard pop-out construction toy and even has some licensing, for example The Gruffalo.

A display of the kind of toys that Playpress has to offer

Kelly Batchelor

After graduating in 2014, Kelly had small panic about life, with no solid career plan in place after graduation. Despite that, like Peter, Kelly has had an exciting and varied career that would teach her priceless life lessons and design skills. She had no wealth of technological background, but formed her own career journey, a path outlined in her motivating talk for the department.

For 18 months, Kelly worked for a Junior Designer at the University of Reading’s Design & Print Studio, putting into practice the work she had learnt during her time here. However, she had her heart set on a job in London, and would send out applications for agency jobs, consequently landing a job for Hot Pickle as Junior Designer. This company focuses on food and drink clients, with lots of brands and marketing campaigns, with Kelly working with Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. She learned new and unusual printing techniques, creating sandwich holders and cut-out signs, and learnt how to wrap a camper van with a Ben and Jerry design. Besides experience, skills and a pay check, the job also provided the benefit of free ice cream.

Some of the work Kelly produced for Ben & Jerry’s whilst working at Hot Pickle

Whilst working for Hot Pickle, Kelly also worked for Magnum ice cream and lots of print-based designs, yet after 2 years of work, Kelly had no digital work to show on a portfolio besides a few digital banners. She began to get itchy feet, and when she saw the BBC training scheme advertising for people who have little to no UX experience, it was exactly what she was after. As a UX trainee, Kelly learned the fundamentals of UX design and tested with real users and prototypes. The training scheme was a success, working for nine months on BBC Radio, news, weather and music, refining skills, testing users and gaining new experiences as well as working in a great atmosphere seeing lots of celebrities.

After completing the trainee scheme, Kelly became a junior UX designer at BBC Sounds before becoming a middleweight UX designer and returning to the University of Reading to teach what she had learnt to undergraduates for a term. Working at BBC Sounds offered the opportunity to work from scratch, discussing with users about what they would like in the app to help improve it. Some feedback explained that circular images are often linked to live media, thank to things like live Instagram stories. This information would shape the live radio section of the app, highlighting the importance of having communication with the users of what you’re creating. Kelly loved collaborating with other people on a project, but after three years wanted to venture into start–ups, and so became a product designer at Culture Trip.

A screenshot of the BBC sounds desktop, displaying circular thumbnails, indicating a live feature

Culture Trip is a travel app Kelly helped design the app for mobile devices. However, as it was about to launch, the Covid 19 pandemic hit the world. Luckily the app is still standing today despite this and is still successful. But Kelly was already looking for new opportunities, seeing as people could not travel during the pandemic. Whilst searching for new jobs, Kelly came across Gousto, a company that makes recipe kits and sends them to your door as a meal box subscription service.

Kelly became Product Designer at Gousto with the vision to be the nation’s favourite way to eat dinner. Its main focus is to give customers tasty recipes and a seamless experience in every part of the journey. The user journey design team is split into 6 sectors called tribes. Within these tribes are squads. This is to get a very granular and focused, detailing on specific areas of the user journeys – and Kelly dabbled in all of them. Kelly has a rule where she will never allow herself to be bored in a job, if that occurs it’s time to move along.

‘Don’t get too comfy, you’ll become stagnant’–Kelly Batchelor

A breakdown of the 6 tribes of Gousto



A mutual lesson from these talks was – say ‘Yes!’. Many new opportunities reveal themselves along a career path, and no-one has to stay in one job forever when there is so much to learn in new settings. Both Peter and Kelly showed this perfectly throughout their career journeys from graduate to esteemed and experienced designers in so many fields. Some jobs are more fun than others, but at the end of the day, the lessons learnt throughout and the relationships forged are priceless.

‘Hearing from both designers about their careers and their advice on how to tackle a career in design was very insightful for me.’ – Part 1 student

‘Interesting telling of their stories, felt very engaging.’ – Part 1 student

Motion and branding for Sky Sports: Katarina Duvnjak 

This week, the Baseline Shift team welcomed Katarina Duvjnak for a talk about her career in motion and branding for Sky sports, and her experiences after graduating from our department.  

Branching out  

After graduating in 2012, Katarina decided to study abroad for a semester in Australia. She went to Monash University, Melbourne, to study illustration. Shortly after that, through networking and successfully nailing the interview for Sky sports, she got into motion and branding design at Sky, even though she had little to no experience in using motion software at the time. 

Some of Katarina’s work during her time at Monash university studying illustration.

From these early steps as a graduate to an invigorating career as a senior designer at Sky Sports, Katarina learnt that developing multiple skills in different sectors was helpful in making her work visually captivating and different. With her experience in illustration at … university and her graphic communications degree from Reading, she has since landed multiple successful projects for Sky, such as the royal wedding of Megan Markle and Prince Harry, the Brexit countdown campaign and the Madeline McCann documentary tracing back to the early moments of the investigation 

Katarina’s promotional campaign for the Royal wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry (Sky)
Katarina’s promotional campaign for the official announcement of the UK Brexit (Sky)
Katarina’s project for the Madeleine McCann 10-year anniversary documentary (Sky)

The department’s Real Job scheme is an opportunity to do this searching of news skills during our studies at the department; the scheme offers an introduction into different areas of design– through the wide array of different opportunities and clients and working on different projects with different deliverable requirements. Real Jobs are a good way to test out multiple avenues, develop new skills and have a better idea of what we like and dislike. But there is so much more out there that we can explore; looking into different avenues outside of the department is part of the journey of being a successful designer. Trying to study design in a different country for instance could be a potential way for self and creative development! 

 Learning doesn’t stop at university 

From the start of our studies at Reading to our first job interviews as graduates from the department, we will acquire a decent amount of technical and design skills, as well as relatively good knowledge of design theory. Even though Katarina had successfully graduated from the department and had acquired experience in Australia, her expectations of the interview with Sky were those that we’ll all get to experience at least once. Stressed, feeling like she was on trial for something and being blinded by the need to impress an employer. Feeling unworthy of a good professional opportunity is a trap we’re likely to fall into, especially as young designers who have just entered the industry.  

However, Katarina’s talk was incredibly encouraging in that prospect; as designers, we have all the base knowledge we need to manage landing a good job. If we have a good design process and can show that we can solve design problems, we are very much able to get a job.  

‘If you can sell an idea and you can show the research behind it, you’ve got a winner’  

While Katarina started off at Sky with no knowledge of the motion software, she learned everything while being on the job, learning from senior designers, her team, through mistakes and being determined to keep going.  

 ‘Always aim high and love what you do.’  


As students, we still have a lot to learn. The course and doing real jobs are motivators in getting ourselves out there, finding out what we like and practising our skills in the real world. But Katarina’s experience shows us that learning doesn’t stop at university; we could travel, do something entirely different to graphic design, and still have so much more to learn once we land our first jobs. The journey to becoming a successful designer is through exposure, talking to peers, making friends, doing things that we love and showing how we got there.  

Student quotes 

 “The talk was very interesting and exciting. Seeing designers who move to work in different disciplines is very helpful” – Part 3 student 

“The way Katarina explained her design choices and reasoning helped me understand her thought process. As I have been watching Sky for years it was interesting to see the depth behind her design work and look past the end product. I also found her experience of studying abroad in Australia interesting and it has encouraged me to look into doing that later in my studies.” – Part 1 student  

Arjun Khara: Design philosophies to live by

With a fresh start to the academic year, Baseline Shift hosted its first session of the year online to welcome Arjun Khara,  PHD student and design researcher at the University of Reading. Arjun presents key philosophies in regards to design, all discovered through his years as an academic within the design field, a businessman as well as a student of Life and its shortcomings.

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