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Expats stories: Harley from Melbourne

Harley Buckley is an Australian creative who lives in Stockholm. After brushing up his UX skills at Berghs, he landed a job at a local startup in the midst of the Corona crisis (and right in the middle of summer!). A few months after, we reached out for a casual chat about school, life and work.

Written by Adam Horne
October 20, 2020

So Harley, as an Australian, what brought you to Sweden? Work? Love? Or a mix of both?

A combination of both. I met a Swedish girl at university back in Melbourne, Australia. She wasn't quite right for me and we were not serious but I knew I didn't want to live in Australia for the rest of my life. It’s a sort of one-horse town on the bottom of the world, so I took the opportunity when we both finished university to move here together and I’ve stayed.

What were you doing in Australia before moving to Sweden?

A mix of study and work. I did some side gigs as a graphic designer but I was also a professional barista (Melbourne is crazy for coffee).

Were you a creative kid?

Ahhhhhhh….define creative? I was the only child of a young single mother, who had a penchant for theatrics and a scientist for a step-dad. So I fell into exploratory behaviour in my youth. I was the kind of kid that would pull apart a Furby toy to see what made it work (though I didn't get too far because I got weirded out after pulling the fur off).

How did you end up studying at Berghs?

Berghs and Hyper Island had been recommended to me by a lot of people, and I noticed when looking for a job in Sweden that ‘education from Berghs is a bonus’. I already had three degrees from Australia but they didn't seem to get me very far, so I thought I'd see what all the hype was about.

What did you study at Berghs?

I did an online course for ‘industry professionals’ in UX and Digital Product Design. I already had qualifications from Australia, and worked in this area but I thought that a refresher wouldn’t hurt. I learned new perspectives, and made some good connections here in the industry.

How did Berghs change your approach to the industry?

I think I started to look at pursuing work in this industry as less of an option and passion and more of a business opportunity. It made me more strategic.

What didn’t you like or enjoy about Berghs?

I feel that the short online format of the course made it hard to develop good connections with other students.

You work as Lead Designer for a Stockholm startup company. What's your approach to your new job?

I used to put a lot more of my personality into the work. But in the end you have to learn how to kill your darlings. Because they can be counterintuitive to solving the user's real problem.

How does working here compare to working in Australia?

To me, things aren’t as straightforward here in Sweden. When visiting Australia, my wife tried on some clothes, and, like a good Swede, she apologised to the cashier after some clothes didn’t fit properly. To which the cashier said "I mean if it doesn't fit then it doesn't bloody fit!". This was a bit of a shock to her. I think Swedish people are a lot more wishy washy about what they want.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about a career in the industry?

You're not in the business of being an inspirational artist that's inspired to create every day. That’s simply unsustainable. You're in the business of using proven and effective methodologies to solve real problems for real people.

How do you describe Berghs to others?

It's hard to say. I guess in some ways it was more of a mediary for me, as I spent most of my course online aside from a few trips to the school, where, I noticed that ironically, the school of communication had their map upside down. I guess overall Berghs is a good combination of business readiness and practical skill building.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Professionally, I look to Instagram and other designers, their solutions and case studies. More personally, I look to Louis Theroux, MC Escher and Nikola Tesla - three very different personalities!

Last question. Kanelbulle or Kardemummabulle?
Kardemummabulle. I could eat about 50 of those!