Today’s Tech Role Model is Tiffany Taylor. Tiffany is a product designer at Netflix in Los Angeles. Previously, she lived in San Francisco for eight years. She began her tech career by working as an admin assistant at a small startup and working her way up to a UX designer role. Other than design, Tiffany also love languages (she’s been studying Japanese for over a decade and recently started learning Korean.) She enjoys photography, travel, finding cute craft coffee shops, and hanging out with her dog, Tenzin, and her two guinea pigs.
What’s your official title and how long have you been in this role?
Senior Product Designer at Netflix
What attracted you to this role?
When the Netflix recruiter reached out to me, I was already looking to make a career change. I wanted my next role to be a place where I could grow as a designer and person, be trusted to get work done, and help solve interesting design challenges. I wasn’t really familiar with Netflix’s well-known “culture memo,” which outlines the culture that Netflix wants to create and the traits that Netflix values. The recruiter shared it with me and once I read through it, I thought, “If this is even 75% true, I want to work at this place.” I’m happy to report that so far, the culture memo is really reflective of the type of company that Netflix is.
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?
For my first few months at Netflix, I was working on a research project that had me interviewing lots of users whose work was a totally different world than any of the industries I’ve worked in. As a result, I’ve been doing a lot of shadowing users and workshops to learn about how they do their jobs. The output of this work has been user journey maps and other research documentation.
In addition to the research project, I’ve recently started working a few different video editing tools that are in a different stage of the design process and need more immediate and actionable UX support. For these projects, I am working closely with the PM and engineering teams, attending sprint plannings and weekly syncs on the progress. As for lunch, Netflix has really great food options in the LA and Los Gatos offices; it’s the best lunch perk I’ve ever had! Sometimes I eat with coworkers, and other times I do a solo lunch.
What skills/technologies help you succeed?
I don’t use it as much now, but early on in my career, I think being able to code (front-end development) was very critical in opening doors for me. I do not have a traditional background as a designer and didn’t finish university, so I had to stand out in other ways. I don’t code for work now, but I’m comfortable working with engineers and learning more about how the back-end and front-end requirements need to impact the final designs.
What’s the most fun or creative part of your role?
I like solving problems that make people’s jobs easier. The type of tools I design are typically internal use or made for work. They may not be something that users are actively choosing to use. As a result, I want to make sure the tools I design make it easier to do their job and are not an annoyance or hindrance.
What are the biggest challenges you face in this role?
There’s a steep learning curve when working in an industry like entertainment. Some of my users are highly specialized and technical in a variety of disciplines, from video editing to marketing to analytics. It’s a challenge to learn enough about their world to design tools that optimize their workflows. I must also know when to step back and not get too caught up in the more specific details of how they do their jobs.
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 mainly work with front-end and back-end engineers, product managers, and project managers. I also work with stakeholders for different teams like marketing. I work cross-functionally every day. It’s rare that I am not working collaboratively because Netflix’s culture is very reliant on open communication and working cross-functionally.
What’s an area where you’re trying to grow in your role?
Right now I am focusing on context-switching between the different projects I have; my main project is very researched focused and uses a blue-sky approach to design. But I also am responsible for projects that need quarterly deliverables. My design process for these tools is much more accelerated. At my past jobs, I’ve usually only been responsible for a few projects that are all related. But because Netflix is so large, my area of responsibility spans things that don’t immediately have a clear connection.
Aside from technical skills, what personality traits/characteristics make for an ideal candidate in your role?
Flexibility, diligence, strong communication and time management skills, empathy, and pragmatism are all traits that would make someone thrive as a Netflix product designer.
What skills (tech/non-tech) have you improved as a result of working in this role?
My overall communication skills and my ability to give and take feedback have improved. It’s so ingrained in Netflix’s culture that I want to apply it outside of work! I have gotten much better about creating a succinct message that helps someone quickly understand what I am trying to say. Also, I am getting better at handling doubts and feelings of imposter syndrome. I have a manager who I trust is looking out for me and who I greatly respect.
In your role, what metrics define success?
In addition to hitting the agreed-upon goals for each phase of a project, the feedback I get from my coworkers on how well I am communicating is the main metric that defines my success.
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