If there’s one thing that drives me, it’s the need to make a difference. To make things better. That’s why I completed a PhD in Environmental Science (Marine Biology/Ecology). But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, making a difference is about solving problems.

From Scientist …

I started my career as a Scientist at the world-renowned Cronulla Fisheries Research Centre of Excellence.

The general problem statement was: “How might we do more effective research so that we can manage fish populations more sustainably for future generations?”

I worked on that problem for almost a decade, where I led research projects as a principal and co-investigator. It was a career that required high level “hard” skills like research and analysis of data.

But equally importantly, it involved developing “soft” skills like stakeholder engagement and management. That’s how I learned to work with people from all walks of life.

Not only that, it also required some “next level” communication skills. Sure, I was good at writing scientific publications and presenting at conferences. But being a good scientist requires the ability to “sell” what you’re doing to people who aren’t scientists.

So I did a lot of research into improving my plain language communication skills. And that’s when I discovered copywriting. It came in pretty handy – especially when writing more persuasive grant applications. It was my “secret weapon” that helped skyrocket my scientific career.

… to copywriting and digital marketing

But in 2012, the Cronulla Fisheries Research Centre was controversially closed by the NSW government. So I pivoted into the world of copywriting and marketing. It was natural pathway. Why? Because research is the lynchpin of effective marketing and copywriting.

And so I worked as a freelance copywriter in the digital marketing space for around 18 months – solving problems for clients who were struggling with their marketing and sales.

… to selling skateboards

But in 2014, I had to pivot again! My family’s skateboard business was in dire straights. So I took over the business and quickly turned things around.

After implementing everything I knew about copywriting, marketing, SEO, Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) and technology, the business grew sustainably over the next four years.

But as successful as I was at selling skateboards … it didn’t make me happy. I longed to get back to my North Star of “making a difference”.

That’s what led me down the path of UX design. In 2019, I completed a 10-week UX Design Transform at Academy Xi. You can read about it here.

I’m a Design Octopus!

The octopus is adaptable – it can grow new arms (they’re not actually tentacles) and adapt to diverse environments.

As a Design Octopus, UX Design represents my head and heart (i.e., the need to make a difference) – plus my overarching soft skills.

And my eight arms represent the skills and strengths I’ve grown on my journey from Experimental Design to Experience Design. Plus, all of these skills are related to creating remarkable experiences for users AND meeting business goals.

Sure, some of the arms in my skill set are longer than others. Some might eventually drop off and be replaced entirely. That’s the point. I’m adaptable.

Just imagine what you could accomplish with a Design Octopus on board.

Interested? Drop me a line and reel me in.

Doug Rotherham

About Doug Rotherham

(pronounced Rother-rem – the ‘h’ in ‘ham’ is silent).

City: Sydney, Australia.

Myers-Briggs Personality: INTJ.


  • UX Design Transform (full-time), Academy Xi, 2019
  • PhD (Environmental Science, Marine Biology & Ecology)
  • BSc (Biological Sciences, Hons, Class 1)
  • ConversionXL Certified Optimiser
  • Serial course taker (copywriting, digital marketing, UI design, web design)

Career Summary:

  • Content Marketing and UX Specialist
  • Owned a skateboard shop
  • Freelance Copywriter/Digital Marketer
  • Research Scientist (NSW Government, DPI Fisheries)

A few of my favourite things:

  • Design 🍥
  • Tech 🖥
  • Travel ✈️
  • Music 🎸
  • Pizza 🍕
  • Craft beer 🍺 & gin🍸