EP 290 . 16 Apr 24

Design leadership in startups

With Hardik Pandya

In the episode

  1. KN: How did you get into Design? You are a lateral entrant? What were early days like?
  2. SS:
    • Can you walk us through your journey towards being a lead designer? Were there things that came fairly naturally, like taking ownership and initiative, and were things you had to deliberately learn?
    • Notes: In Who’s a Lead Designer, you talk about the core competencies such as ownership, accountability, and so on. I found the 2 x 2 matrix you draw at the end that centers around communication and collaboration quite interesting, can you unpack that for us?
  3. Speaking of growth and promotion
    • SS: In No Career Conversations in Isolation, you write “The way to get to the work you want to be doing in the future is earning the trust of your manager. Are there any stories or examples you can share where earning that trust unlocked the opportunity you were looking for?
  4. KN: Now that you are heading teams, how does your typical day look like? Do you happen to work hands-on still?
  5. KN: From where and how do you hire? Do you look for talent laterally? How do you spot talent? Junior / nerdy / geeky / high end colleges / pedigree? Is hiring a gamble?
  6. SS: What are some traits you look for when you’re hiring a senior designer? How do you actually tell if they possess those traits?
  7. SS: What are some common mistakes you see designers make with portfolios?
  8. KN: Who have been your best hires and why? Which background did they come from?
  9. SS: A lot of hiring conversations tend to be very backward looking i.e the work they’ve done, the situations they’ve been in and so on. But, I believe the real alpha, especially from a company’s point of view is being able to gauge what they can do in the future. What’s your take on this and how do you try to identify potential in designers?
  10. KN: What skills do you expect from designers for the future in the world of AI?

About Hardik Pandya

This is the second episode of a 10 Part series, “Designer’s Digest” with Hardik Pandya, Sr. VP of Design at Unacademy Group. This series is about Design as a profession, it’s daily grind, the secrets to climbing the design career ladder and what edge we’ll need to thrive in the captivating world of design.

I have a co-host with me, Shreyas Satish. He is the founder of ownpath.com, Ownpath is a platform for designers to upskill, find community, and unlock exciting opportunities, and also helps companies grow their design teams. I had Shreyas as a guest in episode 218 when I did a series “Where are the designers” talking to 12 top influential Design leaders from India.

Hello Shreyas, welcome back on Audiogyan and also a welcome as my co-host

And for today’s episode which is also my domain of designing Digital products, we have a perfect guest and a common friend, Hardik Pandya. He is a Design leader with an innate love for building products with good design. Currently He is a Senior Vice President, Design of The Unacademy Group. Previously a Design Lead at Google Search, G Suite and Google Cloud, Ola and more.