CEO of Objective Asia and Objective Digital, James Breeze is a usability specialist who discovered his “inner leader” and a love of psychology while studying a Bachelor of Science at the University of Adelaide.
James and his wife Kylie, the co-founder of Objective Digital, have grown a team of passionate User Experience Consultants in Sydney and Singapore who improve people’s experience of websites, intranets, and business applications by considering the needs of the user within the web development process.
Researching the way in which people use websites and other technologies, through interviews, surveys, focus groups, and desk research, James and his team develop new interface designs to provide an optimised experience for the user.
They also provide usability testing and eye tracking to uncover and resolve usability issues.
“Eye tracking has become a passion of mine – it helps researchers to understand unconscious human behaviour,” says James.
“In addition to the consulting business, I currently support more than thirty universities across Australia, NZ and Singapore with Tobii eye trackers that I import from Tobii, in Sweden.”
James travels to Sweden yearly for training in the latest in eye tracking technology and methods and says that Objective Digital has made this new technology their point of difference.
He says that eye tracking is unique in its ability to capture real physiological data about a user’s conscious and unconscious experiences.
Gaining an interest in psychology while studying his Science degree, James was particularly absorbed by what he learnt about organisational psychology, cognitive psychology, behavioural psychology and discourse analysis.
Graduating from the University of Adelaide in 1995, James went on to complete a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Psychology at the University of South Australia and a Master of Organisational Psychology at Macquarie University.
“During my part time honours I wrote a thesis on meditation and was ranked in the top 10% of graduates for the university that year, although my topic was considered a little edgy at the time,” says James.
“I developed an interest in unconscious human experience when I learnt meditation as a Buddhist monk in Thailand on a student exchange prior to university.”
While studying his Masters, James worked full-time in HR, recruitment, change management and employee motivation.
“It was at this time that I discovered IT and how I could use my skills as a psychologist, not just to help people one-on-one or within an organisation, but across the world through the internet and applications,” he says.
“The main thing that causes dissatisfaction at work is the poorly designed and frustrating IT systems that people have to learn and use every day. If we can fix these we can change a lot in a company or in society.”
James’ first IT job was as a usability testing and user experience consultant and within three years he had gone on to become a general manager and then director.
“We began in the web industry just before the crash and worked with Australia’s largest corporations including Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, CBA, NAB, ANZ and Westpac. We survived,” he says.
Setting up Objective Digital in 2007, James and his team are still working with the same client companies and undertake customer experience consulting, user interface design, human factors (HCI) and information architecture for the world’s largest banks, telcos, software companies, FMCG’s, market research agencies, advertising agencies and government departments.
With the twelve staff in the Sydney office now looked after by a new Managing Director, James and Kylie are concentrating on building up the Singapore office so that it can run by itself. Their goal beyond that is to start another business in Asia and then divide their time between Bali and Singapore.
Aside from his businesses, James is passionate about mentoring and giving back to others.
“I always like to give back to universities and educate students about the opportunities that being a psychologist in IT provides,” he says.
“I am an adjunct lecturer in Service Innovation at the National University of Singapore and since 2002 I have been a Masters Supervisor with the Macquarie University and UNSW Masters Org Psy program.
“I have lectured at Canberra University, Flinders University and the University of Western Sydney. We are about to take more students from UNSW and my staff, whom I supervised, are going to be the supervisors!”
In 2011 James qualified as a member of Entrepreneurs Organisation which has just over 8000 members globally.
“Entrepreneurs Organisation has provided me with access to mentors and other people that have the same issues to deal with running global businesses,” says James.
“I also mentor students in professional placements and have taken more than 40 under my wing and into my businesses since 2000.”
During his studies at the University of Adelaide, James became President of the Adelaide University Mountain Club (AUMC). He encourages students to join clubs and associations as a way to get experiences, meet people and learn leadership and coaching skills.
“See what it is like to run something and if you like it, think about starting your own business – sell anything and help people, for yourself,” he says.
James stresses the importance of gaining work experience while at university as a way of putting academic study into context.
“When I hire new staff and am looking at your experiences, I don’t care if a role you had was voluntary or you were paid, you don’t even need to tell me in your resume. It is about initiative and effort.
“Keep your LinkedIn profile up-to-date and be social online – this is a requirement for business these days, whether you are a doctor, in IT, a psychologist, car salesman, business owner or lawyer. You need to be out there, always. Well, within reason!
“In your term breaks, you must travel overseas to places where no-one speaks English – do an exchange with another uni, take a year off. I look at this first on your resume. I need a consultant who can deal with unusual or challenging situations and think on their toes. This is what travelling teaches you.”
And for James, travelling for work and play continues to be the driving theme in his life and that of his family.
“We have a beautiful five year old boy who is growing up spread across cultures and having experiences that many of his age will never have,” he says.
“I have an unfaltering and loving relationship with my wife and business partner – we are there for each other through thick and thin.
“Work is my life and life is my work. I work when I want (very hard) and I play in whatever country, whenever I want. Then I work some more. I love it and would never have it any other way.”
For more information about James and his businesses, visit: