All about that base
Director of Product Design, North America
Grew to 5 Product Designers and 1 UX Researcher
2021 – Now
As the Director of Product Design, North America, I have the distinct privilege of leading a crackerjack team of product designers and researchers at Staffbase, which merged with Bananatag in 2021.
I have this lifelong love of solving technical problems with creative solutions, and with daily duties ranging from design operations to people management, I get to apply all my experience to creative leadership, product strategy, and desk toys. I really love working with this collaborative team that trusts each other, has a “no stupid questions” culture, and always makes space for fun.
I’m overseeing the North American team responsible for the Staffbase Email product, and we’re building on the success Bananatag had in the internal communications space as we integrate with the rest of the larger Staffbase platform.
We make products that a bunch of big companies use to connect and engage their employees.
At the heart of our product is the ability for our customers to level up the way they do email, with everything from real-time editing in a drag-and-drop designer to custom pulse surveys and super segmented analytics. We also offer designed templates, text messaging, and some slick integrations with Slack, Gmail, and Microsoft 365, and so much more. Over the past 5 years I’ve played a key part in propelling the product to where it is now.
Nick is a shining example of the type of person that has made Staffbase what it is today. The cultural alignment is impeccable, and it is so much more than the values we talk about. His perspective is grounding and thoughtful and I can't count the number of times I have learned from his insights. He’s got the magic combination of both an eye for detail and an ability to build and execute a strategic vision.
Chief Technology Officer, Staffbase North America
Some of my best work
I’m proud to have led the digital accessibility project, rallying the dev and design teams while working with project management and stakeholders to achieve the WCAG 2.1 Level AA standard. While this has been essential for big customers (including a half million dollar one), it ultimately means everyone can use our software.
Moving from individual contribution to people management has been the most significant change in my career. Whether it’s being mindful in the hiring process, coaching through career progression, empowering professional development, or sponsoring next steps, seeing my team succeed really makes it worth it.
Starting a new job is stressful enough, but our move to working from home presented the opportunity to completely reinvent remote employee onboarding. From developing custom get-to-you-know-you worksheets to hackathoning our favourite team board game into a virtual format, we’re still iterating and innovating with every new hire.
My favourite part of the job is adding day-to-day delight, both in the product and in our teams. As a torchbearer for team building, I’m continually trusted with the budget to run virtual and in-person events that foster an inclusive culture (and make my kids say “you get paid for this?”).
We hosted a webinar on newsletter design and I did a pretty good job of hiding my nerves
Other initiatives and side quests
I lead the project to make our terminology inclusive, removing words from our internal vocabulary, documenting our reasoning, communicating the change, and helping us through the somewhat tricky process.
Extended people management
When our Head of Product went on an extended parental leave, I was entrusted with managing the product managers in addition to my direct reports, including weekly 1-on-1s and ongoing career development.
From week long cross-team design sprints to rapid lightning decision jams, I’ve facilitated a series of successful workshops in my time, doing everything from inventive icebreakers to virtual documentation, and most importantly, snacks.
It’s been awesome to amplify the impact of our team through a coaching approach. I’ve helped a first time manager taking on their own direct reports, supported our first practicum students, and brought in external coaches to help with process overhaul.
Through helping shepherd the creation of global design principles and applying them to our daily work, our design team has been able to come together around a shared vision much quicker than others.
Design is not the property of one department, and I love assembling avengers for stronger interdisciplinary relationships, especially engineering, marketing, and the heroes in customer success.
I feel very lucky to have a mentor who listens, is empathetic, and provides actionable feedback. His depth of knowledge in a constantly evolving industry is so rare in this “fake it ’till you make it” workplace. He has created an environment where I feel open to share my thoughts and even my own self-doubts.
User Experience Designer, Thinkific
Master of ceremonies
Our team has a weekly schedule of regular ceremonies, from alignment to design critique to continuous learning to collab time, which I’ve been able to innovate on to make meetings people actually like.
In addition to being a part of the creation and adoption of “Slackspectations” documentation for the whole company, I am personally responsible for adding 1341 reaction emoji (and counting).
I’ve had serious learning experiences in supporting direct reports through racism, gender iniquity, family deaths, travel bans, COVID related sickness, performance improvement plans, and layoffs.
Fun is serious business to me, and I put as much effort into Halloween costume contests, meeting DJ duties, team lunches, Zoom backgrounds, and properly celebrating May the Fourth.
One more thing…
This may read like a bunch of solo accomplishments, but it’s truly the result of the team work that makes this dream work. I would not be here without the trust and opportunities Staffbase leadership has provided, or these incredible teammates who make my job easier and I get to learn from everyday.
Apparently a group of unicorns is referred to as a “blessing”, and as my colleagues are known as communicorns, it’s a blessing to call them friends.