Today’s Tech Role Model is Adriana Marín. Adriana (who goes by “Nana”) is a product design lead at the New York Times. Nana has worked in design for over 14 years, focusing on UX for the last five years. She is passionate about baking inclusivity and accessibility into the work she does and is currently on a mission to grow and learn more about best practices. When she isn’t at work she loves music, dancing, watching superhero movies, and she tries to travel as much as financially possible. (See you soon, Belfast!)
What’s your official title and how long have you been in this role?
Product Design Lead, Conversion within the Growth mission. I’ve been in this role for about ten months.
What attracted you to this product design lead role?
My current role forces me to be implicitly focused on two parts of the customer journey: registration and subscription. In my previous roles, I had a much broader focus. The thought of having such clear constraints appealed to me because it seemed challenging and a good opportunity to learn and enhance my skill set. Additionally, I was drawn to The New York Times’ mission of promoting facts and independent journalism.
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?
Tuesdays through Thursdays are usually pretty filled with meetings. I get most of my design work done on Mondays and Fridays, b/c those are the days where I usually have the largest, meeting-free chunk of time. I get hangry easily, so I try to go to lunch at noon everyday; if not, I carry a snack with me.
Since I work on two cross-functional teams, I have two daily 30-min stand-ups with each team. On Tuesdays, I have either backlog grooming or sprint planning. Twice a week, I meet with other folks from across the growth mission to show work and get feedback on designs. Other than those standing meetings, my weeks vary depending on the projects in the sprint. For example, one week I may have to facilitate a brainstorm or whiteboarding session, sit in on user testing, or present updates at a departmental demo.
What skills/technologies help you succeed?
I use Figma, Sketch, occasionally the Adobe Creative Suite, Jira, Google (Docs, Slides, Drive, Gmail), Coda, and Invision. I am starting to play around with Principle and Framer for prototyping. I am usually on Slack all day for both my day job and keeping in touch with my peeps at Almost Studios. It’s a collective that I am a part of and plan to start freelancing more with in my spare time.
What’s the most fun or creative part of your product design lead role?
I really enjoy trying to find creative solutions to very focused problems. I love sitting in a room with teammates and whiteboarding our way through problems and hypotheses.
What are the biggest challenges you face in this role?
Changing people’s perspectives on paying for journalism.
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 am part of two cross-functional teams, so I work closely with developers, product managers, project managers, other designers, copy writers, marketers, and qual/quant data analysts on an almost daily basis.
What’s an area where you’re trying to grow in your product design lead role?
I always want to continue to grow as a designer. Other than that, I want to get better and feel more comfortable presenting and speaking in front of a large audience. In my current role, I end up doing this a lot, but I feel like it isn’t my strong suit and it gives me an abundance of anxiety.
Aside from technical skills, what personality traits/characteristics make for an ideal candidate in your role?
Not having an ego, being flexible and easy to work with, dedicated, and driven, forward thinking, be able to give and take feedback.
What skills (tech/non-tech) have you improved as a result of working in this role?
I’ve gotten more comfortable reading and presenting data.
In your role, what metrics define success?
Well, I’m on the conversion team, so…
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