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12 Product Design Leaders To Follow In 2019

June 20, 2019
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Love building digital products with amazing user experiences? Product Designers as a job title has blazed a trail in tech for the past decade with the rise of Facebook VP of Design Julie Zhuo leading the industry.

We look to Product Design leaders at companies of all sizes to find insight in their careers and map the rise of Product Design as a profession. Lucky us — many of these leaders speak publicly, tweet and share their expertise and thought leadership with online readers.

Here are 12 Product Design Leaders to Follow in 2019:

Christine Fernandez – Stitch Fix VP, Product Design

Christine’s Proudest Moment: “There’s so much work that I’m proud of, but my biggest accomplishment is definitely the teams I’ve built over the years, and helping some of the best designers I’ve had the pleasure to work with grow into leaders. Design now has such an important seat at the table – at the executive level, in boardrooms, and shaping the future at the most innovative companies. It’s been quite a journey, and I’m so grateful to have been a part of leading that change.”

Christine Fernandez is a Vice President of Product Design at Stitch Fix. Previously, she was Chief Experience Officer at Art.com, Head of Design at Uber, and worked as Creative Director at R/GA, frog, Razorfish, Schematic and FCB. Connie holds a B.A. in Graphic Design and a minor in East Asian Studies from University of Pennsylvania. Follow her on Twitter at @ctfernandez and her product design thoughts on Medium.

Connie Yang – Coinbase Director, Design

Connie’s Proudest Moment: “I scaled a team from 3 to 20 in a year – including establishing the functions of User Research, Product Writing, and Brand Design. I did not expect to do that, nor did I think it was even possible. You never know until you actually try.”

Connie Yang is a Director of Design at Coinbase. Previously, she spent six years at Facebook as a Product Designer. Prior to that, she was a UI Director at Twist and PopCap Games, Art Director at ReignDesign and began her career as a Graphic Designer working in advertising. Connie holds a B.A. in Graphic Design and a minor in East Asian Studies from University of Pennsylvania. Follow her on Twitter at @conniecurious and her product design thoughts on Medium.

Erica Weiss Tjader – SurveyMonkey VP, Product Design

Erica’s Proudest Moment: “Landing this role as VP of Product Design at SurveyMonkey 2 years ago – not only because it’s a great opportunity with an amazing company, but also because this role represents a shift in my willingness to take risks, aim high, and flex my leadership muscles.”

Erica Weiss Tjader is a Vice President of Product Design at SurveyMonkey. Previously, she spent six years at Quantcast as the Director of Product Design, where she was responsible for building the design and research functions. Prior to that, she was an Interaction Designer and User Researcher at Move, eBay and Yahoo. Erica holds a B.S. in Cognitive Science and B.A. in Communication Studies from UCLA. Follow her on Twitter at @ericatjader and her product design thoughts on Medium.

Huda Idrees – Dot Health CEO

Huda Idrees is CEO at Dot Health. Prior to founding Dot Health, she was Chief Product Officer at Wealthsimple. Prior to Weathsimple, she was a Product Designer at Wave, an Interaction Designer at Shaken Media Collective, and an UX Designer at Wattpad. She began her career as a Web Developer. Huda holds a BASc. in Industrial Engineering from University of Toronto. Follow her on Twitter at @hidrees and her product design thoughts on Medium.

Irene Au – Khosla Design Partner

Irene’s Proudest Moment: “I had the honor and privilege to build the industry’s most influential and talented design teams over the last two decades. At Yahoo! and Google, we established the gold standard for user experience and design for the internet that continues to shape the profession in this industry today, and we elevated design’s strategic importance in both companies.”

Irene Au is a Design Partner at Khosla Ventures. Prior to Khosla, she was Vice President of Product at Udacity and build and ran design for all of Google and Yahoo! for many years. She began her career as an Interaction Designer at Netscape. Irene holds a M.S. in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of South Carolina. Follow her on Twitter at @ireneau and her product design thoughts on Medium.

Julie Zhuo – Facebook VP, Product Design

Julie’s Proudest Moment: “Helped Facebook scale from 8 million college students to billions of users worldwide.”

Julie Zhuo is a Vice President of Product Design at Facebook. She started as Facebook’s first intern in 2005, was hired as a product designer at Facebook, and has been working at Facebook for over a decade. She published in 2019 “The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You.” Julie holds a M.S. and B.S. in Computer Science from Stanford University. Follow her on Twitter at @joulee and her product design thoughts on Medium.

Katie Dill – Lyft VP, Product Design

Katie’s Proudest Moment: “My great achievement and greatest joy has been the teams I have had the pleasure to build at Lyft and Airbnb. Great things come from great teams, and my focus as a leader has been finding just the right mix of folks that can come together as one to build lasting change. A strong culture full of people that inspire each other and elevate each other’s work is the best thing I have ever built.”

Katie Dill is a Vice President of Product Design at Lyft. Prior to Lyft, Katie was at Airbnb as a Director of Experience Design. Prior to that, Katie worked at frog design for five years, where she began her career as a Design Analyst. Katie holds a B.S. in Industrial Design from Art Center College of Design, and a B.A. in History from Colgate University. Follow her on Twitter at @lil_dill and her product design thoughts on Medium.

Kim Lenox – Zendesk VP, Product Design

Kim’s Proudest Moment: “I have had the privilege to nurture a number of burgeoning designers into design leaders. Seeing how they grow their careers, take new leadership roles and bring their own contribution back to the design community is one of my fondest rewards as a design leader.”

Kim Lenox is a Vice President of Product Design at Zendesk. Prior to Zendesk, she was a Director of Product Design at LinkedIn. Prior to that, she was a Senior Manager of Interaction Design at HP Palm. She has held a number of roles in research, interaction design and UX Design, and has consulted and freelanced. Kim holds a B.F.A. in Photography from San Jose State University. Follow her on Twitter at @uxkim and her product design thoughts on Medium.

Kim Williams – Indeed Senior Director, UX Core

Kim Williams is a Senior Director of UX Core at Indeed. Prior to Indeed, she was at eBay for two years, working in roles from Head of Brand Systems to Creative Director for eBay’s human interface group. Prior to eBay, she was as a Creative Director for Oglivy & Mather, Serious-Gaming Agency, and Weber Shandwick. She began her career as a Designer for consumer goods companies. Kim holds a BFA in Visual Communications with an emphasis in Graphic Design. Follow her on Twitter at @kimwms_.

May-Li Khoe – Khan Academy VP, Design

May-Li’s Proudest Moment: “Despite having worked on so much of Apple’s product line and have a pile of patents as a result, I’m proudest of putting pink hearts and technics 1200s into MacOS, and building a diverse & inclusive kickass design team at Khan Academy.”

May-Li Khoe is a VP of Design at Khan Academy. Prior to Khan Academy, she was at Apple for over seven years, working in roles from Interaction Designer to Senior Product Design Lead. She began her career at IBM as a Research Assistant for three years, and was at MIT Media Lab as an Undergraduate Research Assistant for three years. May-Li holds both M.Eng and S.B. in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from MIT. Follow her on Twitter at @kayli and her product design thoughts at Medium.

Ratna Desai – Netflix Director, Product Design

Ratna’s Proudest Moment: “My greatest achievement has been to build diverse teams and create the conditions necessary for design to live alongside technology and business strategy. Both at Netflix and Google, I was able to connect individuals to the right opportunities within very different organizational cultures. The key has been to lead with authenticity and adapt my approach to complement the culture and design’s relationship to other functions. The successes have come when open-minded, passionate and hardworking teams selflessly collaborate to do their most meaningful work. I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the best product ideas thrive, transform industries and shape society.”

Ratna Desai is a Director of Product Design at Netflix. Prior to Netflix, she was at Google for four years leading multidisciplinary UX design teams. Prior to that, Ratna was at frog design for six years as a Creative Director, an Art Director at Gap and Korn Ferry, and began her career as a Marketing Associate at the Wall Street Journal. Ratna holds a B.S. in Graphic Design and B.A. in Rhetoric & Communication from UC Davis. Follow her on Twitter at @RatnaDesai1.

Susan Dybbs – Collective Health VP Product & Design

Susan Dybbs is a Vice President of Product & Design at Collective Health. Prior to Collective Health, she was at Cooper for four years leading the interaction design team as Managing Director. Prior to that, Susan lead UX consulting for a few years. She began her career as an User Interface Designer at Microsoft. Susan holds a M.D. in Interaction Design from Carnegie Mellon University and a B.A. in Design, Urban Studies, Psychology from New York University. Follow her on Twitter at @dybbsy and her product design thoughts on Medium.

Product Designers – We Want To Hear From You!

Tell us about your Product Design experience, resources, and nominations!

Thanks to Samihah Azim, Women Talk Design, and Latinx Who Design.

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