Ella Fitzsimmons PHD

Digital products, strategy and writing

For 15 years, I’ve made complex things easy to understand and care about.

I’ve led prototyping and discovery teams, shaped digital, data and AI products & principles, developed tones of voice, done content (UX) and service design, worked as a journalist, done a PhD, and written and art-directed product marketing — short films, white papers, technical blog posts, strategy documents, thought leadership speeches and more.

I help companies find the kernel of what needs clarifying or emphasising. Show what should come next. And reveal why it matters. Hire me

Freelance

Since 2013

Websites, words, films and thinking. I’ve worked in high growth startups, B2B, fintech, tech for good, charities, innovation consultancies and more. Clients include Bulb Energy, The Trainline, Jigsaw XYZ, Article 36, Farfetch, Snook, Hackney Council, Dark Matter Labs, Doteveryone, The Public Office, British Council, Future Cities Catapult. I train early stage startups for UP Accelerator, have done speech writing and ghostwriting, am part of Doing Presentations, and found time to edit a novel.

Recent-ish talks

Why tech needs word-people. Online authority. Pernicious hero narratives. Video culture. Laws about the supernatural. How the powerful game centralised platforms.

Projects by IF

2018 — 2019 (London)

Practical and ethical uses of data and AI. Exploring and experimenting with privacy, trust, cryptography and information security. I led multi-disciplinary project teams working on ideation, prototyping and delivery. Clients included Google AI, Citizens Advice, Homes England, British Library, DeepMind, Open Rights Group and Google TrustFabric. I also oversaw the studio’s product strategy and external-facing content like talks, articles and pitches.

PHD

2011 — 2017 (London)

Looking at digital authority and self-representation online. Specifically, how fashion, femininity and women from male-dominated religious groups use the internet. Was fully funded through scholarships from AHRC and King’s College London. Talk to me about digital anthropology, research ethics and feminism. (Being a Doctor hasn’t given me a plane upgrade yet, but I’m still trying).

Co-op Digital

2016 — 2017 (Manchester)

Digital transformation, product strategy, technology strategy, creative direction, ghostwriting and presentation coaching. Co-op’s business portfolio spans groceries, funerals and energy (!). I wrote and creative directed 2017 membership strategy (5m members) and created a standard narrative for the Co-op Digital teams, which led the board to approve a £45m budget. I developed product and service propositions with in-house innovation team, exploring cooperation as a competitive advantage, and created principles and plain English explainers for APIs, agile working, data, technical architecture.

Government Digital Service

2013 — 2016 (London)

Working between Director of Strategy Russell Davies and the multi-disciplinary product teams, I helped create “the best start up in Europe we can’t invest in.” (The Guardian). GDS builds and runs GOV.UK: 2,500 government publishers; 500,000 web pages; 12m users a week. I wrote and published the GOV.UK proposition, prototyped cross-site messaging, strategic direction and copy for conferences like Sprint 16. Originated and executed ghostwritten blog posts, speeches, posters, explainers and videos. I worked with product and service design leads to define Government as a Platform, the basis of GDS’s £450m funding commitment.

GCI Health & Freelance

2009 — 2013 (New York and Sweden)

Marketing director in 80 person specialist healthcare agency. Offices in New York, San Francisco, Atlanta and Chicago. In this heavily regulated and highly complex industry, I generated a 70% increase in press coverage in 3 months. Copywriting, editing and translation for ZenithOptimedia, Asian boutique firm Communicate Financial, Ogilvy, Gateway apartments, Citibank, Skyhorse Publishing, Sermelo PR, Tatler HK, Tumi, blogs like Brooklyn Socialite and creative platforms like ArtTerritories.

Campaign Magazine & Asset Magazine

2006 — 2008 (Hong Kong)

Full-time staff journalist covering advertising and finance in China, Hong Kong and SE Asia as they began to grapple with the internet and impending global crisis. Interviewing and managing relationships with C-suite bankers (JPMorgan, HSBC and OCBC), advertising and design executives and their creative teams (Wieden + Kennedy, DDB, Ogilvy, M&C Saatchi etc). Also freelanced for places like City Weekend, Ipsos Mori, educational publishers and wealth managers. Sometimes, I see articles of mine from this era turning up in books about advertising in China, which is strange but nice.