Hello! Who are you? Tell us about yourself. What are you passionate about? What do you enjoy doing?

Hi, I’m Kristof and I lead the product design team at Showpad. I enjoy reading a great book, listening to an interesting podcast and drinking a fresh brewed coffee.

How did you get started in product design?

I was working as a freelance digital designer for several agencies and start-ups, when I realized that rather than doing these short term projects, I’d rather spend time refining a product. I wanted to get a better understanding of the users and craft experiences that have an impact on people’s lives. So I started looking for more product focused companies and was able to get a job in New York as a senior product designer. I worked there for almost 2 years and then moved back to Belgium (where i’m originally from) and started at my current company, Showpad.

Where do you work today? What is your title?

Product Design Manager at Showpad. Founded in 2011, Showpad bridges the gap between sales and marketing to drive more revenue faster with a better buyer experience, intelligent sales content and impactful analytics. It’s the industry’s first integrated sales enablement platform. We have offices in Ghent, Munich, London, San Francisco, Chicago and Portland.

How big is your company? How big is your design team?

It’s been a wild ride, our company has really grown a lot since I started. We’re getting close to 400 employees now. Same with the design team, when I started there were only 2 designers, now we have 6 product designers. We’re looking to grow the team even more this year, so really exciting times.

What types of things are you responsible for day-to-day?

Typically I spend about 70% on leadership work. That includes mentoring, planning, reviewing, hiring and working on things like on-boarding and development plans. I spend the other 30% on hands-on design work, working out concepts or new features.

What do you love most about your work?

Making an impact. Not just on our customers who use the product daily and are able to be successful at their job, but also being able to help other designers grow. 

What drains you at work?

It can be mentally exhausting sometimes, I try to remind myself to take a break and step away from my desk from time to time. Walking actually stimulates creativity.

Can you walk us through your typical work day?

7:00amWake up super refreshed! Just kidding, I’m not a morning person.
Get into the office, start my day by going through emails, looking at my calendar and figure out what to get done today.
8:30amBlocked to do some work. Can be related to hiring, internal meetings, sometimes hands-on design work.
11:30amStand-up with the product team
12:30pmLunch! Can be home made or usually I go out to get away from the desk for a moment.
1:00pmAnother work block, can be 1-1s, brainstorm sessions, …
3:30pmThis is when the meetings with the US teams begin. We also have regular design team collaboration meetings every week where we show and tell about current projects and give each other feedback. Design reviews on ongoing projects. 

Where do you turn for inspiration?

I think inspiration can come from anywhere, even unexpected places. There are a couple of podcasts that I listen to that are more about human behaviour and psychology, like Choiceology or Repeat Customer from Zendesk. Some books that have inspired me: Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari,  The Coaching Habit, and First Break All the Rules

What design or project are you most proud of? (It can be recent or older).

I’m really proud of the team we have today and how much the individual designers have grown. One of the projects that I started is creating Individual Development Plans and a career path for the team, which is still an ongoing project, but it’s already provided a lot of value. It’s based on the GROW framework and it includes steps to find out what team members want to achieve with their career and set up an action plan.

I’m also very proud of the fact that as a team we are elevating the product every day. We recently launched lots of cool features, like AR in our iOS app, content recommendations, dynamic page builder and we’re working on incorporating a learning platform right now.

Walk us through the design process you used for a recent project (you can pick any project).

Design at Showpad is very cross-functional. So we collaborate closely with the product managers, engineers and QA. Typically we start with research, interviewing customers and figuring out what the current problems are. Product managers will write out Product Specs, while product designers will iterate on quick prototypes and user test them. We’ll keep on iterating until we find a solution that works. At Showpad we really value design and we always strive to provide the best user experience for our users.

What career advice do you have for product designers just getting started?

If you’re looking for a job in product design, spend time on creating a really solid resume and portfolio. It’s so important, I can’t tell you how many resumes I’ve seen that were really hard to read or way too complicated. Typically what I look for in a portfolio is work you’ve done before that’s relevant and really seeing the process and thinking behind it. Before doing any interviews, figure out what you’re looking for in a company. Read the job description carefully, prepare questions and you’ll do fine. I can really tell when people are well prepared and know what they want, that is already a huge advantage and get extra points.

If you’re looking to get better at designing, find someone that is better than you at the thing you want to be better at. Ask them questions and learn from them.  The most I’ve learned was by working with other people.

Where’s the best place for folks to learn more about you or follow you?

You can follow me on Twitter or read my thoughts on Medium or connect on Linkedin