Meet the Company Representative – Mary Sue from ForPurposeCo

We spoke to Mary Sue at ForPurposeCo recently on her experience being a company stakeholder on one of our recent UX Projects. Read on to hear her thoughts on the experience.


Mary Sue RogersHi, Mary-Sue. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us at Harness Projects.

Could you tell us a little about ForPurposeCo and your role there?

ForPurposeCo is the innovation arm of OzHarvest. We are a for-profit for purpose organisation where 100% of the profits go to OzHarvest to help them with their mission of rescuing food to help feed individuals that are doing it tough. We are a start-up focusing on food and waste technology. We scan the globe for great ideas that we believe will do well in the Australia market and we have some of our own unique product concepts. My role is the catalyst – “a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change.” Creating the energy and leadership to achieve our mission of supporting OzHarvest.

Please tell us why you chose to do a Harness Project? And what your expectations were?

It’s all in the network – Tammy Marshall of the Beehive – is part of both of our networks and she suggested collaborating. We had a new product that we wanted to look at the user experience and Tammy thought that the Harness Project team might be an excellent way to accomplish our objective. We chatted, and the rest is history. My expectations – to be fair I did not have any at the start as the concept of using “adult learners” as individuals to work on a project like this is not something I had considered before this experience.

What were some of the highlights of the project experience?

My biggest highlight is how much the individuals and the team accomplished in 9 weeks — some amazing outcomes and insights. In the final presentation, there were things we could use to create a foundation for the next wave of the idea development.

Was there anything about the project experience that was unexpected?

People connecting from Japan to do their final presentation – that was not expected. The passion of each of the students for the idea and how they could progress the idea was terrific, and I was not expecting that level of enthusiasm.

What were your thoughts about Lisa Huck, the Harness Mentor for this project?

Lisa is fantastic – she is a subject matter expert so knows the topic really well but in addition she was very good at managing a remote classroom that spanned different time zones and locations. Not only teaching them about UX but also how to use tools like Trello and how to make a presentation to an executive. She was great to work with.

Tell us a bit about the student group that formed around your project brief?

The student group was very diverse – from background to previous experience to what they were doing in their professional lives today.

What were your thoughts regarding the solutions the students presented and ideas that emerged from the project experience?

The final presentations were excellent – my measuring stick was “is there enough information in this presentation to allow me to create a high-level business case to be able to take the project to the next steps” – and I would say 50% of them could tick yes to this question. And a couple were stand out presentations regarding creativity and also thinking outside the box. For example, using beacons instead of QR codes as part of the technical solution.

What would you tell other companies considering doing a Harness Project?

The process was a good experience – and did create a win/win between ForPurposeCo and the students. It was important to keep the project brief focused –and the scope limited to something that can easily be understood and tackled in 9 weeks. As a company sponsor, you need to be willing and able to put in the hours at the right checkpoints in the project. And because some of the students are in full time working the calls are done out of hours – and that also has to work for the sponsor. Getting the team right is also important. – Lisa and I worked well as a team regarding how the individual students received feedback but also recognising how they presented their individual and group work so as to makethe most of my time. Listening skills and the ability to provide each student feedback is essential.

And on the same vein, what would you tell other students considering a Harness Project?

I would say if you want to learn UX and key deliverables like minimum viable experience having a real-life project to focus on can be more rewarding then a theoretical model. The students working on our projects were excited about the potential product and solution, and it showed in their results.