As I’ve grown and strengthened my craft, I’ve also developed a passion for helping to cultivate happier and healthier design teams.

 

My path to design leadership

Over the past several years, I’ve had the opportunity to establish meaningful relationships and nurture others as a product design manager. Becoming a manager is often something people fall into, and I was pretty unsure if I wanted to give up designing to focus on people. However, my time as a design manager has been a truly fulfilling—and challenging!— experience.

I remember attending a design conference a few years ago and learning all about how to organize teams, optimizing how designers collaborate cross-functionally, giving design a voice, and mentoring team members. The planner and teacher inside of me grew giddy. I knew then that this was an area I wanted to dive headfirst into.

What I value:

I am action-oriented, a master of to-do lists, and exceptionally organized. I’m also a 3 on the Enneagram, which means…

  • Working as a strong, unified team

  • Allowing time for deep work

  • Being adaptable and flexible to change

  • Establishing clear goals

  • Embracing and fostering healthy debate

  • Coaching, not dictating


A DEO is a practitioner who never loses touch with her craft.
— Maria Guidice, Rise of the DEO

Leading a team is more than just management and driving results. To me, it’s figuring out how to help each designer thrive—together and individually.

As a leader, I strive to:

 
 
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Inspire and coach

We’re in this together. I’m here to help others find the path ahead and empower them to make decisions.

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Be candid

Feedback is extremely critical for designers. If it’s avoided or stifled, no one benefits.

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Be vulnerable

I know I won’t always have the answer. I believe being humble and asking for help is key.

Continue to learn

My own personal growth is just as important to me. I learn best by observing others, doing, and practicing.


The importance of mentorship

Mentorship has played a crucial role in helping to shape who I am today. I’ve invested in myself and others, both within companies and externally.

 
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What I’ve accomplished

While solving complex UX problems is a large and fulfilling part of my role, I’ve found the challenges and rewards of growing and nurturing a team equally as gratifying.

Here are highlights from some of the projects I’m most proud of.

 

Revamping the design recruiting process

As with most growing companies, recruiting efforts tend to consume a hiring manager’s days. And with so many available opportunities for designers, particularly in the SF bay area, it became critical to revamp Evernote’s design team interview process. For this effort, I

  • Developed sets of questions for each stage of the interview process

  • Designed the structure and optimal schedule for the on-site candidate experience

  • Created a framework and rubric for feedback criteria and evaluation

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  One page from the new designer welcome kit

One page from the new designer welcome kit

Introducing improvements to the new hire on-boarding experience

When I joined Evernote’s design team in 2012, I was given a desk and a laptop. Needless to say, there was very little structure. Once our team began growing rapidly, it was important to me to provide our team with an amazing new hire experience. After all, first impressions can really influence what’s to come. As part of this effort, I was able to:

  • Create a new designer welcome document, which included an overview of current priorities for the product team, expectations, resources, a first week schedule, and more.

  • Together with the HR team, build out a resource kit (in Evernote, of course) for managers to organize a personalized on-boarding plan for each new hire. This included the employee’s first week, and progress check-ins for 30, 60, and 90 days.

  • Ensure designers were set up for success from Day 1. This meant providing clear expectations, success metrics, and guidance of what to focus on during the first 90 days.


Establishing personal & career development tools

Similarly to the previous lack of an on-boarding experience, Evernote once lacked career tracks and well-defined roles. While our People team began to establish leveling across the company, the design managers also wanted to introduce more clarity to our team.

  • Designers are ambitious humans. Through many 1-1 conversations, we found the majority of the team felt a lack of clarity of what was expected of them, and weren’t sure how to grow their career paths.

  • Our design leadership team created Evernote’s “Design Superstars” — an exercise for team members to celebrate areas in which they excel, recognize the skills they’re actively practicing, and acknowledge the areas that may be less important to them as part of their role. Each team member would plot their star individually, then discuss areas of growth and opportunity with their manager.

  • Together with a few designers and our HR partner, we created a set of 5 “superpowers”—specific to the product design team. These attributes represented what we valued as a team, and what made us unique as designers at Evernote. They were also used to create a common ground during interviews.

  • When Evernote began using OKRs, I coached my team through writing specific and actionable goals, focused on both work projects and personal growth. I scheduled 4 checkpoints throughout each quarter to discuss progress and to make any adjustments. After implementing, I received very positive feedback of the effectiveness of this process from my team.

  Design Superstars worksheet

Design Superstars worksheet

  Example of one of the 9 Design Superstars skills

Example of one of the 9 Design Superstars skills