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Design Manager • Career Coach • Startup Advisor
Orange stairs leading up
Orange stairs leading up
Photo by Ambrose Chua on Unsplash

Much has been said about how to be a good manager. When comparing against bad managers, it’s easy to view the contrast. Much more subtle, however, is differentiating between good and great managers. Whether you want to know if you have a great manager or to assess your own management skills, this easy-to-read list is for you.

  • A good manager cares about you as a (designer).
  • A great manager cares about you as a human.
  • A good manager allows you to pursue opportunities of interest.
  • A great manager proactively presents those opportunities to you.
  • A good manager recognizes your…

Scary looking road in the woods
Scary looking road in the woods

For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, Criminal Minds is an American crime/drama television series in which a small group of FBI profilers analyzes the minds of the country’s most dangerous criminals in an effort to anticipate their moves and stop them before it’s too late.

You may be wondering…so it’s not a show about design? No, ma’am. Are there designs shown at any point? No, sir. Nevertheless, besides making me hyper-aware of everyday dangers, Criminal Minds reminded me of a few design lessons worth sharing. And, although highly recommended, don’t worry, watching the show is not required.

#1: Senior IC & Manager Relationships

Hand holding a clock
Hand holding a clock

As a design manager, time is one of my most precious commodities. As an individual contributor designer, time is just as paramount, but not just any kind of time: dedicated, focused time to get in the flow and actually design. It’s for this reason that a couple of weeks ago, I tweeted:

Other folks related to my message, and as you may note, I put the onus on the manager, not the designer. So, I figured I’d share 4 strategies for design managers to protect their team’s time.


Every 6 to 12 months, conduct a ‘meeting audit’. What are…

You’re the one in the passenger seat

Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

Foster relationships today that may become sponsorships tomorrow

We’ve all heard about the value of sponsors. A sponsor is someone that advocates for you when you’re not in the room (as opposed to a mentor who can provide valuable advice but serves a different purpose).

However, most of the time, getting a sponsor is up to luck. Just as formalized, “mandated” mentorships seldom work, sponsorships need to grow organically as your relationship evolves.

Tip #1 — Maximize your luck in finding a sponsor by meeting diverse folks in your company and fostering real relationships. Be vulnerable (most important and difficult step!) and share your goals. Stay vigilant because…

And how you can do it too

Photo by Daniel Sandvik on Unsplash

After representing Facebook Design on stage, I reflected on what takeaways I could share for those wanting to tackle new speaking challenges. Years later, those takeaways remain true as ever: be prepared, jump at opportunities, and bring your whole self to the stage.

In this updated version, after years of more public speaking experience, I share some additional considerations and tips when early in your public speaking journey. I also delve deeper into the additional set of challenges present when English is your second language (as is my case).

Consider your reasons

When I was first asked to be my college’s alumna commencement…

Framework for decision-making

Author posing by Harvard school flags during commencement
Author posing by Harvard school flags during commencement

First, a bit about me. I have a master’s degree in Computer Science from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree in Information Systems and Marketing from New York University. I began my career at an investment bank. I then left my job on Wall Street where I was making money to give money away to an educational institution.

Going back to school wasn’t a decision I made lightly. I am an immigrant, and I worked hard every step of the way. Most importantly, I didn’t have a safety net should I make the wrong choice. …

The why’s, what’s, and how’s of crafting a product story

Coin operated tower viewer looking at a sunset
Coin operated tower viewer looking at a sunset
Photo by Matt Noble on Unsplash

Whether you call it a product vision or north star, crafting a story of where you‘re going and why you’re going there is crucial to the team’s success. Luckily, designers are in a unique position to not only craft this vision, but also bring it to life.

Reasons for crafting a product vision

  • Create a shared reference point from which to craft a winning product strategy
  • Inspire the team and help make sense on how their individual contributions ladder up to a larger whole
  • Surface questions earlier on and open up space for key discussions
  • Obtain buy-in from leadership, particularly important when discussing allocation of resources…

From Endurance to Resilience

Hand holding and pulling at a rubber band
Hand holding and pulling at a rubber band
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

I’ve seen junior designers who wanting to prove themselves endure through difficult team conditions. I’ve seen senior designers who wanting to achieve the next career milestone endure through challenging personal circumstances. Although endurance can be impressive and alluring in the short-term, it’s ultimately not a sustainable approach to challenges.

Throughout my career, but also my personal life especially in these times of COVID, I am reminded of the value of cultivating a resilient mindset. First, some definitions:

Endurance — The power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way.

Resilience — The capacity to recover quickly…

Camino de ladrillos amarillos enfatizado en el paisaje de la ciudad
Camino de ladrillos amarillos enfatizado en el paisaje de la ciudad
Photo by Akshay Nanavati on Unsplash

Sigue el camino de ladrillos amarillos

Nota: Historia originalmente publicada en Inglés: So You Want to Become a Designer.

A menudo me preguntan cómo comenzar a diseñar productos digitales. Algunos me preguntan si podría ser “demasiado tarde” para empezar un nuevo rol. Tal vez, como yo, no soñaban con ser diseñadoras cuando eran niñas. Aunque no hay un solo camino para convertirse en una diseñadora de productos, trazar uno y seguirlo es un primer paso esencial.

Asegúrate de ir tras el rol correcto

Primero, asegúrate de que realmente quieres ser diseñadora. …

Camino de ladrillos amarillos enfatizado en el paisaje de la ciudad
Camino de ladrillos amarillos enfatizado en el paisaje de la ciudad
Photo by Akshay Nanavati on Unsplash

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

I often get asked how to get started in product design. Some wonder if it might be “too late” to make the jump. Perhaps, like me, they didn’t know they wanted to be a designer growing up. Although there’s not one path to becoming a product designer, charting one and following it through is an essential first step.

Make sure you‘re going after the right role

First, make sure you actually want to be a designer. Often times, I talk to aspiring designers only to find out the role they should be going for is actually product manager or user researcher.

  • What are the aspects of design that…

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