Oceans Research began life as SAMPLA, a small organisation led by marine researchers Enrico Gennari, Ryan Johnson and Stephan Swanson.
Their work had been featured in a number of National Geographic documentaries and had also included breaking the world record for continued manual tracking of a shark species.
In 2008 they were launching their internship program, which was around the time I was putting the feelers out for places involved with shark research which might be interested in my particular skillset.
They were, I attended their internship program that August for free in return for my working on a number of web and branding based materials for them.
I – quite frankly – bossed my time on the internship and had absolutely no desire for the experience to end any time soon. Fortunately, the folks in charge felt the same and we agreed that in 2009, I’d move out there to work full-time.
“He can do computers” – that was pretty much my job description.
When I joined the company, it was going through a bit of a transition to better support its desire to branch into education, eco-tourism, media production and so on. While I was involved with strategising this intended growth, I took on a great deal of responsibility in developing the new name, branding, marketing materials etc.
This expanded into developing web based tools for some of our students, travelling to Mozambique to help establish a (painfully doomed from the offset) second marine lab, overhauling our operational systems, shaping the direction of the company, providing technical support on film shoots, participating in ongoing research projects, the list goes on.
One day, I might write a series of case studies detailing the successes and failures of this process from a purely design perspective, as it taught me a lot about creativity in business and there were more (horror) stories endured along the way than I care to remember, but feel others in a similar position to me would benefit from.
Suffice it to say – it was an intense, highly enjoyable and maturing three years. It was a lot of work, with some fantastic accomplishments which I wouldn’t trade for the world, alongside some of the hardest, deepest and confidence-obliterating failures which sucked then, but I’ve since come to acknowledge and value the constructive impact they had on me.
I departed Oceans Research in 2012, but have continued to provide design and consultancy support on a number of their projects.