Skip to content

Five minute profile: interview with Adam Coulson

Adam Coulson FMP
Five minute profiles

Research Data Scotland

16 Aug 2023

Meet Adam Coulson, Delivery Manager. Find out what his role entails, what it's like to work at RDS, and the advice that's stuck with him.

What’s your role at RDS and what does your typical workday involve?

As Delivery Manager in the digital team, I manage our digital programme across multiple areas. This includes leading the delivery of new content and services, working in close partnership with our external digital partner and managing the resources of an internal interdisciplinary team.

Since starting with RDS in May 2023, my work has focused on launching our new website (the one you’re on right now) and developing a prototype for the emerging Researcher Access Service.

We’re working at pace so it’s been great to get hands-on in my first couple of months to drive forward the front-end user experience for researchers.

What’s your background and how does it give you additional insight to your work at RDS?

My background is in leading digital teams for large organisations including National Museums Scotland, the University of Stirling and National Trust for Scotland.

Working across heritage, higher education and the third-sector means I’m able to draw on my experiences of applying user-centred approaches to improving digital products for complex organisations.

“We’re doing lots of user testing which means I’m hearing direct from researchers about the issues they face”

Adam Coulson

What’s a highlight and a challenge of your role?

A highlight for me is the chance to influence the direction of a new organisation as we grow. It’s a vibrant place which values innovation and user-centred design so it’s an exciting time to be involved and contribute to making change.

Getting to grips with the complex public data landscape in Scotland is certainly a challenge, but fortunately we’re doing lots of user testing which means I’m hearing direct from researchers about the issues they face, and where we can reduce friction. This is where curiosity is a strength, and I'm enjoying learning more about the problems RDS is working to solve.

What difference do you hope RDS will make?

My hope is that RDS can deliver real meaningful change to the people of Scotland over the long-term, as we simplify data access and help researchers to influence policy change.

It feels good to play a small part in helping those who are tackling the big issues in our society. I also hope we can demonstrate leadership in service design and share our experience with others.

What would your "Mastermind" specialist subject be? 

Growing up in a big football family in the north east of England it would have to be ‘Newcastle United circa 1996-2004' (the golden years!).

Who, real-life or public figure, has inspired or motivated you in your career or life?

The mountaineer Nims Purja. He’s a former British Army Gurkha who in 2019 completed a challenge to climb all 14 of the world’s ‘eight thousanders’ (mountains over 8,000m, all in Asia). I’m very very slowly attempting to climb Scotland’s Munros (mountains over 3,000 feet), so I’d like to say his achievement was inspirational, but to be honest what he did was absolutely bonkers! Even Scotland’s biggest hills seem sedate by comparison.

He also said something which really stuck with me: “Life is absurd, but you can fill it with ideas, enthusiasm and joy”.

Related content

Subscribe to our updates 

To stay updated with Research Data Scotland, subscribe to our mailing list or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn

Sign up here Sign up here
Illustration of an envelope with a letter sticking out and a mobile phone with a person