Richard Rowson About me

Dad, husband, pilot, and bloke that does useful stuff with technology for a living.

Professional interests

Professionally I work in roles that innovatively apply technology to deliver great customer centric products at the leading edge of digital, e-commerce, product and technology - I currently work as a freelance consultant via my own company, F17.

You can find me doing just about anything from exploring product opportunities, figuring out the aims and goals to align the teams behind, a little bit business analysis, usability labs, focus groups, programme planning, web analytics, and helping respond to tenders for new business.

I help the teams find the common ground between customer needs, business needs and technical possibilities. That covers quite a lot of topics, ranging from the intricacies of train ticket pricing through to the user interface conventions of the latest mobile phones - whilst keeping up to date with marketing techniques such as search engine optimisation, PPC and retargeting advertising.

To read more about what I do, and to discuss business opportunities see .

Specific areas of professional experience:

  • getting commercial and technology teams working together effectively, and product development methodologies for efficient product development cycles (a bit of Lean, a bit of Agile/Scrum/Kanban, a lot of thinking about what motivates people and clustering autonomy and accountability, and most of all - a lot of common sense and pragmatism)
  • usability and understanding customers' expectations and interaction with our products (taking web analytics way beyond visits and page impressions - into motives, intent and emotions)
  • understanding what it is that makes customers buy - be it price elasticity or certain product features
  • getting the most out of the data that we have available (and getting hold of the data that we haven't got available) particularly when we can join together multiple data sets - be that better journey planning or simply better information on how trains are running (I guess some people call that "Big Data")
  • understanding how things work and hence how they could work better (a very broad catch-all, I know!).

Recent professional achievements include:

  • migrating to cross-functional product aligned teams, massively reducing time to market, and shifting motivation and satisfaction to a new level
  • launching mobile apps for checking train times and buying train tickets - first doing it quickly, then maturing it to a sustainable product [link]
  • bringing barcode ticketing to UK rail, hence allowing customers to print their own tickets and have barcodes delivered to their mobile phones [link]
  •'s Best Fare Finder tool - for the first time allowing customers to see the best train prices at a glance for any given week or month working around the constraints of legacy industry systems
  • bringing train-times to Google Maps [link]
  • dozens of small finishing touches that make just a little bit better - be it annotating which Bristol station is in the city centre and which isn't, or clearly showing peak/off-peak times when customers are choosing a train time.

I spent nearly 8 years as part of the senior team at (latterly as the Product Development Director), through a period of intensive growth - shaping product direction and overseeing product delivery across a wide range of areas. This was a fantastic role, covering topics as diverse as digital marketing, usability, analytics, customer research, mobile apps, not forgetting software development, software development, and more software development.

Earlier career:

I started my career with British Airways on their graduate scheme for engineering students - which combined their engineering apprenticeship with management placements, covering a wide variety of roles - including working on Concorde - collecting new planes from Boeing in Seattle - and rolling out a weather radar enhancement to help avoid windshear.

After British Airways, the boom beckoned, and I joined consultancy Detica (then The Smith Group) working on projects from 3G mobile licence bids through to Internet Banking. It was consulting that lead me to National Express Group where I was part of the founding team of train-ticket retailer Qjump (later acquired by Virgin Group / and a variety of other roles before leading the Group IT function for a couple of years (probably my most technical role to date, rolling out new data networks, and overseeing a programme of system and standards harmonisation).

Personal interests:

I live just outside York, and work mostly in London and occasionally elsewhere. Having a 400 mile round trip to the office and a young family doesn't leave a lot of time for much else. Technology remains a common theme - from practical things such as home automation (yes, I could turn the heating on from anywhere in the world 5 years before Nest!) to any form of gardening that involves power-tools, or converting money into thin air by piloting light aircraft. I'm a Parish Councillor and part of the organising committee of our annual village 10k multi-terrain race.

Other links