WHAT I DO
User driven functionality planning and design, leading teams and establishing processes.
Defining and designing user experience architecture for applications, mobile and desktop products.
For a while (10 years) I led IF/THEN, a design studio I co-founded in Seattle. After serving as Creative Director for Deloitte Digital's Seattle office, I joined Microsoft as Design Director for Maps and People teams, and headed the Communications and People family of products as Creative Director. Following this, I led the Mixed Reality Studio Avatars Creative team, UX/VX/Art, expanding identity representation, driving connections between people, work and social experiences in Mixed Reality and traditional contexts.
Currently I lead the Seattle UX/UI team at Sonos as the Senior Design UX Manager.
Driving your career. Hopefully better.
I have had this conversation with students more times than I care to count. It all starts like this: how did you get to do what you do? How did you get here?
The short answer is this:
You go to school, you get a degree, you freelance. Then get a job, advance in your job, quit your job, get another, and another, and another. Then you and your friends start a company, then you close it down and do it again and again. Then you go back to working for someone. My path is just one of a few career paths variations you could be taking. The longer answer is a bit more complex.
It is a lot like driving.
Let me explain.
When you set to drive somewhere, like, say Portland, from Seattle, you don’t set up to go through Fife, Vader, Centralia and Vancouver to get to Portland. You get in your car, get on I5 South and head to Portland. If you stop for a snack in Tacoma and coffee in Olympia, so be it.
Careers are much the same. When you start, you go to college, which by the way, is a lot like buying that car you're taking on the roadtrip. What's the car? Is it a status symbol that breaks down often, or is it a functional tool. Is it practical, like a van? Or is it a flashy 2 seater sports car, with no room for your groceries and your dog?
Setting a goal is important. Knowing where you want to go matters. You don’t want to be that guy that got off the freeway at the wrong exit and got lost on the side-roads, thinking he took a shortcut. (No career shortcuts either, BTW) Sometimes you are stuck in a traffic jam a few miles long (think dead end corporate gig) and you decide to take a side road (start your own business), or just pull off into a rest area and take a nap (work in retail for a year) and come back to the road refreshed.
Get a good, solid car and set on your way. In the car alone - freelancer. With friends, small business. You share the driving, and other duties, nav, music. You should consider yourself lucky if you own the car (business). In someone else’s car? You're in a job. In a bus? - You work at Microsoft. Burned out? Pull over and get a Slim Jim.
Get a tune-up before the trip - prepare for the interview. Also, word to the wise, road behavior is a lot like career behavior. Think of all the crappy driving you witnessed today and draw a career parallel. The oblivious guy that insists on driving slow in the fast lane, the aggressive douche that cuts-off everyone, the tailgater... We've all met them, or will sooner or later, if your career is young. Speaking of youth, early on in your career, you will speed a lot and pay the price occasionally with a ticket. Or worse with a wreck. As you get older, you will care too much about other things to be reckless in your career. Or your driving.
In the end, we all get to our own version of a career "There”. It all starts with the decision to get in the car and drive. Relax, don't worry too much, and if it's now time for you to pull over for a slushie, you should do it because it will make the drive more enjoyable. Sure, there may be a price to pay later, but for now, get that delicious career slushie, you earned it...