On leading designers
Let’s get the pressing question out of the way - have I managed designers directly?
Yes – through work supervision, assigning design tasks, mentoring, coaching and influencing designers in their individual careers in helping them uncover what drives them to succeed. I have led multi-disciplinary teams with differing agendas to work together to achieve a unified goal - make exceptional product experiences that users love. I have guided folx with varying personalities to set aside differences and focus on producing user-centered experiences, all while invoking a sense of ownership for all parties. I have worked at pre-seed startups where I was the entire design department to multi-national corporations that had 20+ designers creating unforgettable user experiences.
There are so many buzzwords and management styles that are thrown around; but handling every interaction with grace is what has gotten me to influence change as a servant leader. Leading DesignOps at GoGuardian has been a fascinating journey. I created the department with the sole purpose of force multiplying designers to impact the Edtech space and our design industry on the whole. Ultimately I believe that the role of a design manager is to listen, coach and to elevate designers.
Here's where I've been able to exercise Product Design Managerial responsibilities:
- Screened and interviewed over 900 candidates (UX interns - UX Leads).
- Contributed to the approval for 6 designer (1 UI designer, 1 UX Designer and 4 UX Leads) head count.
- Assisted in gaining approval for 2 UX Researcher roles.
Supervision, Coaching and Mentoring
- Supervised design work that meet our design standards.
- Assigned design tasks to designers.
- Highlighting opportunities for designer career growth.
- Mentored and coached designers that have led to job promotions.
Increased Design Team Delivery:
- Created a design system that has reduced designer pixel work by 50%. The reduction has led to designers having more time to focus on identifying and solving user experience issues instead of reinventing visual patterns.
- Introduced a weekly design critique. Doesn't sound like much at first, but this has been a first step in helping designers to share work early and often. Designers often didn't know what other designers were working on. If and when designers shared work, there was hesitation to critique work that was ready for ENG handoff. Instituting the weekly Design Crit has enabled folks to provide candid and constructive feedback that has led to better designed experiences. The team now has optional daily design critiques for work that can't wait for the weekly sync. The team now feels more connected with each other and at all design levels are contributing and providing constructive feedback to make designs even more intuitive workflows.
Reduced Designer Burnout:
- Worked closely with Director of UX Design, Project Managers and Engineering + QA leaders to ensure that the design team isn't overburdened with tight deadlines. Achieved a 20% drop in design team burnout via DesignOps processes.
Completed GoGuardian Manager Training
Participated in GoGuardian's Manager Training Pilot Program where we covered the following topics:
- Leadership Mindset
- Managerial Communication Methods
- Performance Management
- Mentoring and Coaching
- Leadership and Business Results
- Driving GoGuardian Culture
Design Dept: Design Leadership Fundamentals
Three part design management training workshop that focused on leveraging design skills for leadership success:
- Fundamentals of management success
- Four pillars of design leadership and the skills needed to deliver successfully in each area
- Strategies for growing a team and designing an optimal organization, especially in startup and hyper-growth environments
- How to guide a team to deliver design excellence, from vision to process management
- Guidelines for facilitating an effective design critique
- How to deliver feedback to foster great team performance
- Develop strategies for navigating tough conversations
- Prioritize time based on team vision and focus
Extra Curricular Mentoring + Coaching
As of May 2020 I've been a UI/UX Course Design Mentor at Springboard:
- Mentor 7 students as they navigate the 9 month UI/UX course curriculum
- Identify, highlight and guide mentees on UI/UX design best practices
- Council students on how to leverage their previous work experiences and apply them to design thinking and execution
- Provide 8 course graduates with coaching and guidance as they looking for full-time design roles
- Reviewed and critiqued 200+ UI/UX course graduate student portfolios
Outside of work, I have been mentoring and coaching designers for a little over 3 years. I have a calendly link where I meet with designers 1 on 1 for 30 minutes to chat about their design careers, aspirations, project/work difficulties and review their portfolio(s) + resume(s). I host these sessions 3 times a week.