• Inquire. listen. Re-think

    A User and Service Design Portfolio (2006-2018)

    Melanie T. Uy

  • Org culture & change

    (Ph.D. research)

    Troubleshooting two dysfunctional Chinese SMEs in the student migration industry

    Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

    Findings 1

    Social disconnection is the predominant work culture in migration SMEs.

    Guanxi is overrated and may cause harm in managerial intervention by focusing on traditional approaches to Chinese work cultures. Social disconnection is equally a dominant phenomenon in Chinese work and social relations. It has its own ritual and everyday practices that focus, not on building org loyalty, but on individual social mobility and personal status.


    Managerial intervention

    • Food is an increasing marker of employee satisfaction and dissatisfaction. The lunch hour is the crucial event to express minimum care for employees.
    • Maintain the provision for lunch at an affordable price. 

    Findings 2

    Education placement abroad requires speed at the cost of fraud.

    Education placement requires expansion of ties to known and unknown entities to gather information and maximize commission fees. Working with unsanctioned connections produce highly efficient transactions but also un-guaranteed results. This sets up the agent, the company, and the customer to untold risks of fraud.


    Managerial intervention

    • Hire departmental supervisor and institute process specialization within teams instead of relying on one agent. This builds team spirit and accomplishment and encourages transparency.
    • A departmental supervisor forms an integral role of buffer between the boss and complaining customers for employees. Minimum-wage employees appreciate the ease of work, lessening of stress, and build team loyalty.
  • Care@Home

    An integrated approach to healthcare and social inclusion among the elderly. Interactive Intelligence Group, TUDelft (2012)



    A discovery profile of the elderly was requested by the principal investigator, Dr. Nick Guldemund. My approach was unique compared with their structured surveys and interviews.


    Ethnographic Interviews

    Two formal interviews were made: one 70+ y.o. female elderly informant (on-site) and one mid-30's caregiver. Both represent the two perspectives of the caregiving cycle.


    Insight Delivery

    Despite only 2 interviews made, it exposed the team to the dark side of living alone and growing old as well as the plight of the low-status cleaner/caregiver jobs occupied by immigrants.

    • Independence/codenpendence co-exist and are unstable categories.
    • Multiple communication channels (primarily telephone, email) are required to enforce memory and social commitments.
    • Dutch homes are divided into public display spaces (living rooms) and stark private spaces (bedroom and bathroom). One needs to look at the intimate private spaces to evaluate the extent of the patient's illness or mobility.
  • FERN C sodium ascorbate

    (an artefact project)

    Integrating folk health practices with medical diagnosis

    Change in Medical Diagnosis

    Uncovering folk illnesses

    We incorporated waiting times to collect patient information and medical complaints. The folk illnesses and health practices were then recorded and shared with the doctor to aid targeted diagnosis and prescription.

    We're Always Listening

    Home visits for select patients

    We visted the home of select patients who received free monthly supplies of sodium ascorbate as part of their health monitoring. We observed folk practices at home that was addressed through targeted doctor information presentations.

  • Brandlab

    Pioneering use of ethnography for brand stories & strategy in the Philippines

    Monde-Nissin & Waltermart

    Comprehensive CCTV video aisle analysis, supermarket shopping, and home study

    This was an ambitious qualitative research project that validated Monde's product placement strategy but also uncovered time-dependent shopping behavior of men and singles. This was a whole new market segment that Monde wanted to tap into.

    Photo by Peter Bond on Unsplash

    A dining and drive-thru experience study

    Used CCTV video analysis, participant-observation, focus groups, & interviews

    We uncovered four spatial buying to dining behaviors that were useful for training staff and managers to avoid customer antagonism. Moreover, we validated the high cost but marginal symbolic usefulness of in-store-merchandising.

    Photo by Joiarib Morales Uc on Unsplash

    Metro brand story

    Used brand story workshop and supermarket study for brand discovery & validation

    The aim was to clarify the brand identity of Metro Gaisano in a highly competitive retail market in the Philippines. We discovered and validated their "Magician" identity using staff stories and unique retail stocking and display practices.

    Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
  • Curious?

    Reach out to ask about any of the projects.