Being underprepared during an unexpected opportunity brings out the most critical breakthroughs. As for ADPList mentor David Boddy, it has been a catalyst — alongside being in tune & articulate about his design passions — that snowballed his design career from his early days as a graphic designer in the UK to now, as the Digital Design Director for Tapestry, a global house of brands that unites Coach, Kate Spade New York, and Stuart Weitzman in New York City.
Let's start with the basics. I'm David, I'm originally from the UK. I live and work in New York City right now. I've been working, I'd say for the entirety of my career in the retail and luxury retail sector as a product designer, both leading and as part of Product Design teams. I've been fortunate to work on projects in both Digital and Physical paradigms, working with all types of interesting technologies. I work for Tapestry, a US- based company that owns brands like Coach, Kate Spade, and Stuart Weitzman, and operates globally.
I would say, generally, I have an innate curiosity about technology as a tool, and service and how it can both amplify and simplify individual narratives and experiences. Technology has the power to take our basic user expectations and level them up into delightful experiences that are memorable & nuanced. In turn, these memorable experiences are hoped to likely drive organic conversations, sentiments, and ultimately feedback; A wonderfully empowering event for product designers. So I feel incredibly fortunate in what I've been able to do so far in my career, as a Product Designer, a Leader and problem solver. I love products and I love getting into the minutiae of a feature and its a piece of UI.
I would say a good answer to this is that I'm an introverted person. I'm fairly analytical in my thinking. I'm not the first person to lean in and kind of shout out suggestions, I'm a bit more methodical than that. Actually, joining ADPList is part of my own personal development story, as I aim to engage in many more types of conversations with other people; I’m not saying that I don't have confidence in different situations, but we all have skills we want to improve, and mine is to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. So that's something that probably a lot of the mentees that I speak with don’t know. As I look for the next level of my career, it will need to include skills to navigate ncomfortable situations. I'm a very comfortable speaker. I can pitch projects that I believe in. As a product designer, I believe that you have to be able to communicate to your audiences. But I want to be able to expose myself to many types of interesting conversations where I don't know the answers, and I have to build the skills to be successful in those scenarios.
There's a trap in working from home, which is the attachment to a screen, where you go from video call to video call. And then maybe you chill out by watching something on Netflix, then all of a sudden you've spent 16 hours a day, locked on a digital screen. So I was really trying to change that behavior. I've got two young children. So the evenings are very valuable to try and unwind and get ready for the next day (which is always going to be as crazy as the previous day). I wanted to use my hands more and so I started hand sewing quilts. Although New York isn't under a lockdown today I am still focused on trying to pick up new skills that don't require a screen time. If you're like me, and passionate about products, that passion is unaffected by the medium you use. I will look to carry it on and get more experienced with the patterns I use.
David’s favorite emojis
My favorite emoji split between these two:
💪 I use this one frequently.
🤼♂️ I just love this one because I like to think that the original designer was really into wrestling, which is why this existed much before many other sports.
My overriding opinion is that it’s easy for individual businesses to focus on the use case of their products and ignore or fail to seriously consider the potential misuse cases of their products. I think as an industry, we would be wise to think about how tools that we create can be used and mistreated. In practical terms, there's a complex conversation in the US about how Social Media platforms have historically taken a hands-off approach to their moral obligations, favoring profit over people, and how we can address that imbalance. One example that comes to my mind is when Facebook released live streaming capabilities, when at the same time they were aware that they didn't have the right moderating capabilities in place to protect users from malicious and dangerous content. This chase for ‘speed to market’ and user growth metrics has a very real and human consequence. Another worrying signal is the internal fights that both Facebook and Google are having with their own AI ethics and Research teams over the historical decision and future direction of their algorithms. That's a really worrying trend considering how prevalent their tools are and how much sway they have over the general population's perspective on events. Everyone has a subconscious bias by nature, we’re human. But we created oversight groups and strategies for a reason. So when we don't listen to that oversight or we prioritize products’ features over its potential harm, it's a concerning trend. So yeah, we are at the bleeding edge of a digital revolution. But I think there are already warning signs about how we, as an industry, should stand up to our obligations about the services, platforms, and applications that we are offering.
In my team we have to be aware that by building tools and services we are by definition, disrupting the current way of working for many of our peers. We're making services for our global workforce, to allow them to do more. Now, when we talk about service creation within our workplace, we also have to spend time thinking through the cultural change and how tools — whether that be introducing predictive analytics, machine modeling or automation — directly impact roles and daily experiences. We have to face up and consider that our users may ask questions like ‘What will I be asked to do tomorrow, am I prepared for that?’, ‘How can I expect my role to change?’ or ‘What if I'm not ready for this change?’ These are real ripple effects within our community. So, that level of responsibility constantly weighs on my mind when we go through our ideation sessions.
I want to help others to empathize with their users - a common thread striking through the heart of every stage of a Design Thinking process. We often talk about what are the most important words in the English language, or any language... ‘And so?’.
Asking a simple prompt creates space in the conversation for teams to pause and dig deeper, becoming more empathetic, helping everyone to better simplify and understand complex problems, situations, environments, external effects etc. In blogs and in talks, it's not uncommon to hear about striving to become more empathetic. I want to help people understand how to put that into practice. ‘How do you do that when facilitating?’, ‘What are some key activities to do that really unlock a team’s perspective?’, ‘How do you transform a team by transforming their knowledge and awareness of their users?’ just because you're not practicing product thinking today, doesn't mean that you need to get rid of the entire team and start again. It's a cultural thing. It's a question that’s driven by an innate curiosity of your user and how you could better provide service.
I think, also, because some of the sessions I'm offering are portfolio reviews and interview preparations, a lot of the questions I get around are: ‘How do I stand out in the crowd?’, ‘How do I communicate who I am?’, ‘What's important to me?’ Or, you know, from your perspective, as a hiring manager, ‘what does that interview process look like?’ I want to help those designers be more strategic about the hiring process as they become more aware of the steps and the different criteria along the way. And so, as I look at the commonalities between those questions: It's all about transparency from a different perspective and looking at a world with an 180-degree view. I believe that level of transparency is useful, especially when we talk about how to stand out in a crowd, in a highly competitive job market. And so that's how I start. Understanding the hiring process, end-to-end is important to assist designers who desire to enter the job market, the preparation required and the expected steps and activities.
David’s favorite show recently
First, Resume Submission
Well, as I mentioned, the key is to understand the process and apply a Design Thinking mindset, to focus on your user's role through this process. Let's start with the initial User: It's going to be a bot! An ATS reader to be specific that's going to pass through your resume, and it's going to look whether this document has the right keywords in their resume. Primarily it's a bot because the Recruiter assigned to the role is time-poor and not necessarily an expert in your specialization. They also recruit multiple roles in parallel and are driven by recruitment targets — speed for them is a key. So, initially keywords outrank persona. Success here is being aware of this, and writing your resume appropriately. Not only to support ATS readers by simplifying layouts but also rewriting text to leverage specific language; key words (read through the job description for the words they use), job roles and years experience amongst others that the Recruiter has identified. So that's step one. Understand that the first step is an ATS reader of your resume, it’s a very impersonal thing.
Next, Background Interview
Onto the next stage, most likely a phone call with the Recruiter. A Recruiter’s expertise is in the task of finding the right person for a role. They don't need to be product designers. They don't need to be creative strategists, or copywriters. That's not a requirement for their job. I mean, they could be as well, that maybe would make them an awesome Recruiter. So by being aware of the knowledge constraint your user has, when you're going through those initial screening calls, you need to be prepared to break things down and focus on key activities that you've done and the role you’ve played. For instance, some Recruiters might want to know your explicit roles and responsibilities to give them context of the projects that you may discuss. That's already two very different experiences to consider before you even get to someone who's going to review the work with a design thinking perspective. Understanding how this process adapts and preparing yourself appropriately for different stages are important. Users look and react to different things and require different communication styles.
Clearly there are more steps to the entire process, and every business is different, whether that be; Design or Portfolio Reviews, Facilitating Workshop sessions, Product Critiques, Lunch Meetings, Accepting Positions and Negotiating Compensation etc. If you want to learn more, then please connect with me for a Mentoring Session.
Another question I get is how to stand out in the crowd. For me, it’s really about how do you authentically communicate your passions. When hiring I want all candidates to have a good experience, but importantly I want to hire passionate people, people who are passionate about products, people who are innately focused about how they can make something, how they can take something they love, and make it better. So one of my interview questions is always ‘Tell me about a product you love?’, the answer to this question always tells me a lot about them as a Designer. If they go straight to their phone, pick up their phone, and scroll to an app, and start talking through what they are seeing on the screen, that tells me that generally that there probably isn't a burning passion within them at this point in time. Whereas, someone who takes a minute to think and recall a product (digital or physical) that really means something to them, and can seemingly talk endlessly about it is a clear signal to me about them as a Designer and their thinking. It's not the only indicator on whether to hire a candidate, but it leaves an important impression on me.
For me, it's to align your passions and values with the products you build. I've seen it a few times in my career, and I've managed people that are very skilled product thinkers, Product Designers, UX Designers, Interaction Designers, where their values haven't aligned with the product or services they are building. And so after a time, they’ve found themselves on a divergent path that requires change, to find a product, business or sector that better matches their values. So the one thing I've always said is, go align with what you know to be your passions and ask yourself; ‘Do you believe in that product the team is building?’, ‘Are you passionate about this product?’, ‘Do you think it delivers incredible consumer-led experiences? And if you don't, don't apologize for pivoting. Don't apologize for change. What you learn in life — how you evolve drives huge changes in how you understand the world, your perspectives, what's important to you, and ultimately, the problems you want to solve. So align your passion to that of the team, workplace and products you are delivering. And if they don't align or they diverge, don't apologize for pivoting, too. Aligning passions and values are the most critical building blocks for a successful time in that team. Especially in building one’s career.
David’s Most Listened Song
Is actually a podcast: New York Times The Daily
It's part of my morning routine to listen to the most recent episode whilst I go through my inboxes, review, and update our Jira boards.