Communicator, connector & catalyst
Design career: 21 years corporate and independent design consulting, UX & ID emphasis
Teaching, training & mentorship: Proposed, designed and taught courses at UGA, continued training and mentorship roles throughout my career
Academic: Self-proposed interdisciplinary degree, subsequent presentation and publications concerned with VR immersion.
Leadership & initiatives
Digital Insight (now NCR): Engineering recruitment & design sync, producer team influencer, sales crossover initiatives
Sage Software: Cross-team sync, vendor management, purchase orders & service evaluation, cross-team interviews for promo creation, ecosystem team coordination & requirements gathering
AT&T: Operational initiatives including constant cross-team connection, interviews and analysis of dynamics and processes to promote clarity and awareness, efficiency and innovation. Vendor evaluation & licensing. Worked with Chief of Staff to foster team morale and culture. Contributed in design thinking and journey mapping workshops.
Personal leadership & initiatives
Home Owners Association: 13 years leadership, strategy & communication; a most unexpected undertaking that afforded me significant, extensive experience involving every aspect of operations. An unpaid and often thankless job, the reward was in restoring and improving the property and raising values, winning trust and serving the owners, solving problems, constantly adapting to changes, gaining awareness and learning from a variety of situations and personalities.
• Provide onboarding, communication and service to owners
• Select and direct board members
• Identify, oversee and manage vendors and property management
• Assess, evaluate and set forth budget and strategy for remedial and maintenance needs
• Determine and raise dues and special assessments for operations and special projects
• Pursue delinquencies and apply liens when needed
Charity: Hands-on, independent homelessness rehabilitation and prevention initiatives, and event coordination & performances benefitting American Cancer Society, Habitat for Humanity & YMCA.
Producer & contributor: A range of music & arts projects and events including sponsorships, performances and promotion.
Mentorship & connector: I've been fortunate to find mentors, and it's been rewarding to engage, facilitate, observe and learn from others through mentoring. I always find myself involved in the lives of motivated, talented people open to suggestion and seeking to expand their potential and awareness.
Seeking servant leadership through...
Awareness & understanding across an enterprise organization, across industries & global economies
License to improvise & use imagination to evaluate, anticipate, prioritize & affect change at any level through initiatives in change management & team alignment, process optimization & performance improvement
Innovation: Awareness & application of emerging technologies & interdisciplinary nexus to imagine and discover possibility, discern probability and actualize preference.
Path to DesignOps
Discovery of the role
Ah, change management. I think back on those acquisitions, mergers, reorgs, silos, rebrands, Frankenstein style guides and defunct design systems and I find myself reciting Rutger Hauer's Tears in Rain monologue.
All those employees will be lost in time. Time for DesignOps.Following the acquisitions of Directv and Time Warner, a nearly two-year reorg and my subsequent layoff from AT&T, I was fortunate to meet with a UX designer from Google at an iXDA portfolio review. Rather than look at my portfolio, he simply asked about my favorite projects at AT&T. When I described my organizational initiatives, he recognized them as valid UX research and recommended that I add them to my portfolio.
When it came time to categorize my initiatives, I thought of 'organizational development' and 'operations' and began searching online along with 'UX' and 'design', and discovered that 'DesignOps' was an emerging need within UX. I found Josh Silverman and Dave Malouf, who encouraged me to take a SAFe Agile PO/PM course and introduced me to Rosenfeld Media. Thereafter, I began following other industry resources including various articles and InVision's book series, and connected with LinkedIn groups including DesignOps Assembly. I also reached out to several other industry leaders who generously allowed me to pick their brains and in some cases shared media.
I grew up on a steady diet of Maslow and The Art of Japanese Management throughout my father's consulting career. I also spent my youth moving and constantly changing school systems and I worked in restaurants for twelve years. Both scenarios taught me to navigate and adapt to changing environments, think in systems, observe social dynamics as an outsider, recognize and deal with personalities and management styles at different levels, and most of all how to be assertive. After leaving restaurants and starting my design career, I realized I get energy from being around, meeting and engaging with people.
Later, my experiences with the dynamics of IT org structure, along with the turbulence of IPOs, acquisitions and mergers fueled my ongoing interest in industrial organization and the impact on teams, along with the role and methods of HR. I had to adapt to performing introverted tasks in a social work environment and found I worked particularly well with developers. I gained further insights through instructional design projects centered on change management, my first remote project involving training modules for guiding management teams at Citigroup through a layoff of 10,000 employees. Eventually, I discovered the joy of awareness and connection across teams, at every level, and throughout a large org. I recognize the intersectionality of disciplines and principles shared across UX, IO and ID.
Although I don't like being put into a box, I've reluctantly come to identify with my Myers-Briggs score which pegged me as an E/INTJ (I take license with the E/I). Out of necessity, I've adapted to understanding myself as an 'extroverted-introvert', analytical and introspective, typically sparking creatively with engineers, and also energized by and compelled to engage, bring about order, and perform in an enterprise environment.
I'm accustomed to working directly with a client, but when your customer is your coworker, empathy and feedback are far more immediate. I've also observed enough revolving design leadership, stagnant career paths and culture changes to recognize the dilemma UX organizations face in attracting, developing and retaining talent. The challenges of scale create a need and opportunity for UX teams to apply the same aptitude towards their own environment and champion the users - ourselves and our internal partners - if we are to sustain and excel at serving the business and the customer.