In this series of interviews, you will get to know more about Dushyant Kanungo.
Meet Dushyant, he is a UX Evangelist, working as a UX Architect at a company called Galaxy weblinks, where he is running the studio operations and manages a team of about 55 people. He is specialized in enterprise-level UX and dabbles in the startup ecosystems and startup accelerators as well. Also, he is a mentor at ADPList, teaches ‘UX design’ at Imagine Xp on weekends, and also does a ‘Digital transformation executive’ course from IIM. He manages to do all this multi-tasking as he believes in ‘keep working on yourself.’
He lives in the city of Indore, India(which is famous for many food items, specially Indori Poha, jalebi, and chaat). He is a multilingual person who can speak and understand more than 5 languages. Recently, I had taken his interview for ADPList inside the scoop column and got a chance to have an insightful conversation with him. Here are some highlights of our conversation.
I do work with a lot of people across the globe. One of my clients is Netgear and Netgear had this design director, Mr. Joey Vallejo who is right now working with Morgan Stanley Corporation and he joined ADPList as a mentor. And then he started publishing articles on LinkedIn that he is a part of the ecosystem. So, I got interested in working through that and then realized that a lot of mentors who are there are from around the globe. So, I first joined as a mentee, and I wanted to speak with how these bigger agencies are actually scaling their ecosystems and those things came to be, and then I realized suddenly that from India, there is very little guidance available. Because you can go in and ask about career advice to the global participants but when it comes to finding the foothold in UX in India, there are hardly any mentorship options available.
So, then I applied to ‘become a mentor’ and because of the experience that was involved in my career, I got approved immediately. And so I do both things. I also ask for advice from the colleagues who are there in Brazil and California and also provide mentorship sessions to people who are in India especially I get a lot of requests from Southeast Asia, as well.
Yes, everybody needs a mentor in life. Nobody can grow in life without any mentorship. So my company Galaxy, they have great classes about the leadership mentoring session. So if you need any help, they actually help you in finding the mentors, even if it is a paid subscription service or whichever way they feel like they can help in the career growth. So I have been very lucky that my organization, my CEOs, have been mentoring me. They're also allowing professional help if need be.
This is the platform, the kind of support that comes from ADPList, I don't think that nobody can provide you that sort of assistance. Because nobody can understand what the industry is, even though they can talk you through with leadership. But when it comes to design mentoring, there are very few people who want to talk because successful people are in the industry, and the people who are in the coaching Institutes who are teaching design, career-wise are in their stagnant stages, they are not willing to take part in the nitty-gritty of everyday operations. A lot of it can only be learned if you're part of a great organization.
Now with ADPList, imagine this, I can join it, and I can talk to somebody in Silicon Valley. And I can request that “hey, I really wanted to understand, how do you hire people?'' because that is the psyche that we don't get to hear much. Everyone wants to work with big organizations. Let’s say Google is hiring people and I want to prepare for it. But how do I know what sort of questions are being asked unless I speak with someone at Google, and there is no other way to get hold of those. Making those connections, understanding what qualities are actually needed to head in that direction is very important. So there has to be a channelized way and structured direction in which you can head and I think that is where ADPList’s dedicated time slot thing works out.
4. What are the most common questions you get as a mentor, and how do you usually answer them?
The most common question people ask is what kind of practice(process) or framework you are actually following?, but how should I respond to it? Because the answer generally remains the same, that even though you say there is no process, there is something which is happening. It is not like you are pulling a rabbit out of the hat because there must be some structure, right? So they're doing something and that is something you can name it and it is lean UX because there is very little focus on the documentation side. So, there is a process, and there is a name for it. It's just that you have to find the organization in chaos. So that is the first question people go by.
And the second thing, people want to show me their portfolios and ask what I think about it? So there are two problems I see with that. First, some people just start reading their case studies and I don’t want that, because I can do it myself. What I want to know is, what is not written here. Like what are the surprises you went through while doing this research, you must have found something which is not mentioned here. So that finding, that discovery is what we are after. This was my hypothesis that things should have worked in this manner but they didn’t and I had to change my thoughts. So the entire point of doing research is that you are testing a hypothesis and if you are proven wrong then congratulations! you have successfully done something that you were set out to do, that is to find the Truth!
5. One piece of advice you would like to give to the mentees?
First thing, ‘don't reinvent the wheel’. There are already people who have done amazing work in design and if you can only follow the work, by that I don’t mean you have to cheat or copy the design. What I am saying is try to practice using those available designs, try recreating them, because even that is not possible or is very difficult and doing that is really gonna help you. Because unless and until you don’t try recreating them you won't understand things like how they have created a particular shape or what type of font style they have used. For example, if you are working for a big organization like Facebook, they have a style guide, they have a branding language.
So, anything you design there is not going to be a new artwork but what you will be doing is you are building upon what they already have. You are not going to change the branding, so keeping that branding and making something within that brand guideline is difficult and that is what you are learning while you are actually copying somebody else’s work. Obviously, there is the UX part but you also have to be fluent in ensuring that you can follow instructions, you can follow the brand guidelines and the styling that is already present.
6. Anything I haven’t asked but you want to share?
We started with 200 people in the organization during the pandemic and there were 18 designers on my team. Since then I have grown from those 18 people to 55 and I think this sort of growth was not possible without ADPList. The reason was, we kept on hiring people and the number went up to 30-35 designers and people started asking the question, ‘What are you going to do with so many designers?’ We were not sure about the vision and were completely confused about the scale. Because work was there, even getting more work was not a problem but what are we going to do with all that setup that was continuously increasing? Right now there are 500 people in the company and 55 designers in my team and that's a huge number. So the first question that I had was, how to scale and how to sustain? Because right now the great resignation is going on; people come and go at every step of the way.
That is when I sort help from ADPList mentors and ask them the same; ‘how do I go about sustaining the team and how do I scale consistently?’ And the answers I got were very clear. The first thing that I learned was to make sure that you set a goal, know the objectives, have a long-term plan, and communicate with the team what exactly you are trying to achieve here. And that was a big question, I had to go back to my CEO and Directors and ask them what exactly are we doing? We had no clue and we were just expanding like ginger; there was no shape or size of it. Then we sat down and decided the strategy that went out to our ‘2025 Vision’ that we are going to follow.
We built the determination statement with that, then the entire thing was communicated to the team. We invested a lot of money in creating an LMS platform where we did an entire series of coaching videos on UX and other topics for the team so that skill-wise there is no gap, and then we set out to hire the right people for the right positions. While we did that, this is where I think the push that was needed at that time was given by ADPList mentors. We didn’t know how this big Design Studios functions, so we needed help from someone who already knew it.
1. Work or play?
2. When are you most productive?
I’m an Afternoon person.
3. Who is your inspiration? Name any one person.
4. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
I am a very introverted person, but for the reasons of my job, I have to be extroverted.
5. Would you rather travel to the past or future?
6. Are you more of a thinker or doer?
7. How do you usually start your day?
I usually check my mail before going out of bed.
8. Are you a tea person or a coffee person?
10. What scares you the most?
The keys that actually enable you to work, nothing shouldn't happen to the things that keep me active in the industry. Like mental health scenarios, that someday I might go into depression and things might not work the way they should be.
11. Cat or Dog?
Dog ( I have a dog, it's a labrador and his name is Dobby)
12. How many languages do you speak?
I don’t know but for some reason, I just picked up multiple languages at random stages of my life. So I speak many languages like Spanish, Hindi, English, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi.
13. What advice will you give to your younger self?
Things will get better, they do. So anybody who is struggling anywhere in their life, just remember to keep going and have that will and determination that things will happen and that is common advice that should be given to everyone out there. “Keep trying” is the mantra.
Thanks for reading this article! I hope this will serve as a useful resource for mentees who are looking and getting to know their mentors on our platform. Be sure to follow us on ADPList, to get the latest news from us.
📅 You can book a session with Dushyant Kanungo on ADPList: Link here
👉 You can also follow him on LinkedIn : Link here