Today’s Tech Role Model is Erin Morrissey. Erin began her digital design career at a small tech startup before transitioning to Criteo, a global ad-tech firm. Over the past three years, she’s climbed the ranks to her current role of Advanced Digital Designer. Work keeps her busy, but she still finds time for personal art projects in her free time.
What’s your official title and how long have you been in this role?
I am an Advanced Digital Designer at Criteo, a global Ad-Tech company. This August will make three years at Criteo’s New York branch. I started as a Designer and was promoted this past January… so I’m newly enjoying my “Advanced” projects.
What attracted you to this digital designer role?
Prior to Criteo, I worked in a position that required both design and administrative tasks. It was my first professional job after I completed my education and worked far too many restaurant gigs. That job taught me I am at my best, and happiest, focusing solely on projects that excite, challenge, and exercise my creativity. Criteo offered an opportunity to work exclusively in creative design while collaborating as part of a highly skilled design team. I also found the company’s global reach, and the possibility for travel, attractive.
Walk me through a typical day in your role. What activities do you engage in? What types of meetings do you join? When’s lunch?
With the exception of a few standing meetings, my job lacks redundancy so days aren’t super typical, which for me works well. My position consists of product workgroups, personal initiatives, client work, and varied meetings. Lunch is sacred… it is a French company so lunchtime meetings are a big no-no : )
When I transitioned to Criteo, I found it difficult and overwhelming to work creatively as part of a team, especially as someone who identifies as an introvert. However, working together has molded me into a stronger designer, a better coworker, and communicator. I get to work with designers from around the globe for the workgroups. In the end, it feels impactful to work on designs that develop into new products.
The personal initiatives are also very important, and a fun alternative to day-to-day client work. I just finished the collateral for 2018 Pride parade. Right now, I’m making icons for an upcoming rooftop party, designing an internal newsletter that will be seen globally, and participating in a team striving for greater exposure for our designers.
Lastly, client work is a large part of my job as well. I meet with new and existing clients or agencies, discuss their branding, create ads for our platform, and maintain those accounts in a bevy of ways.
What skills/technologies help you to succeed?
The baseline for design skills is always evolving. Awareness of new tools and trying them out is essential and can be really fun and challenging. However, design moves so fast that positions are needed to be filled before there are even people trained to do the job. UX and UI, for example, are now ubiquitous design jobs that are highly in-demand positions.
However, most schools are only now offering these courses to students. This is exciting, but also can instill the fear of “impostor syndrome” in designers currently in the job market. So be flexible, sign up for continuing education classes, go to design talks, and always try new platforms.
Lastly, design on your time too… while your employer should have your best interest at heart, and you’re hopefully working on meaningful projects, you cannot also expect them to hold your hand. Introduce yourself to parallel industry standards and have fun trying.
What’s the most fun or creative part of your digital designer role?
The most fun, honestly, has been the travel! I’ve seen Geneva, the Alps, Paris, South of France all for work events. I have developed deep connections with coworkers, now friends, from the offices in France, Spain, Brazil, China, Japan, Korea, Sweden, and of course here in the States. I am not only a better designer but more empathetic and understanding of design needs globally.
Those experiences are hard to compete with, but I have also loved my design projects. Working on really difficult client work can be especially fun. I love being stumped by a seemingly unsolvable problem. It takes a lot of internal, in-the-zone thinking and time (some would call this procrastination.) The moment you work through it is pure joy!
What are the biggest challenges you face in this role?
There are a lot of moving parts in my position and every day is varied. I love the lack of routine, but it can be challenging.
What teams/individuals do you work with cross-functionally? Can you give an example of a time when you collaborated with another group/individual?
I could not work without my teammates. Tech is so dynamic and alive that no one person or singular team can make it alone. For product workgroups, I collaborate with other global designers, the Product and R&D teams in Paris, and local Sales for client feedback. The personal initiatives are whatever I want to contribute to Criteo so right now I am working with people from PR, Marketing, and designers from around the world.
As for client work, every day is a constant open line of communication between fellow designers, the technical team, analytics for data about how our ads are performing, and the account managers.
What’s an area where you’re trying to grow in your digital designer role?
There are certain constants, like client work, and other aspects of change in my position. Growth is an ongoing conversation, and evolution is natural in any role, but especially in design. I have watched coworkers transfer departments, move to other offices around the world, and/or redefine their positions within a team. As business needs change so do we, which keeps things interesting. Keeping an open mind has served me well – as needs arise and trends pivot, I want to stay agile and open to change.
What skills (tech/non-tech) have you improved as a result of working in this role?
I am a stronger designer and better employee/coworker that I was before Criteo. Thanks to having open, judgment-free, relationships with my peers, my skills have been honed and my eye for good design is improved. I also feel far more confident pitching to clients, and even just speaking up and asking questions. Plus now I can speak extremely mediocre French ; )
In your digital designer role, what metrics define success?
“Success” is measured in two parts: Client Relations and Personal Growth. The clients I manage and integrate are measured by several metrics in order to maintain the highest brand standards. While grossly boiled down, success (specifically for a designer) is an amalgamation of creative satisfaction, proper account maintenance, and education of our product.
Personal success is defined by the designer and agreed upon by management each year. It is an ongoing conversation that allows for great possibilities. For me, it’s very specific to my role, but essentially I want to learn more and do more!
Aside from technical skills, what personality traits/characteristics make for an ideal candidate in your role?
Flexibility and ingenuity are essential traits in a designer. Good design requires several iterations and failure is inevitable – scrap it and move on. Don’t be defensive and listen to feedback. On the other side of that coin, give feedback that is constructive, helpful, and direct. Share your successes and encourage your teammates to do so as well. Most importantly, share your pain points in the effort to save others the same missteps.
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