We're so excited to bring you a month of extraordinary content from talks and Q&As, panels and social sessions. Not to mention a programme of 90 minute Masterclasses (we'll be launching the Masterclass schedule very soon). We'll keep adding content so do check back and join our mailing list to hear updates on the Festival line-up.

The timings of the sessions should show in your local time, if you click on the clock icon by each session it will show the time in GMT (UK time). If you have any questions do drop us a line on events@clearleft.com

Please note the schedule is subject to changes as we finalise the line-up.

Day One - What Makes a Great Leader

Introduction & Welcome

A few words of welcome from Leading Design Festival curator and host Andy Budd and an introduction to today's theme.

Mastering Success

As designers, we tend to think about our superpowers as expertise in product thinking, interactions, information architecture, graphic design or even creativity. However, as we grow in our careers, other skills become more and more critical to our success. What are these areas that we need to master and why do they matter in building the best products possible?

Julie ZhuoCo-founder and Author, Inspirit

Q&A with Julie Zhou

Andy will take your questions for Julie.

Julie ZhuoCo-founder and Author, Inspirit

Time for a break

Time for a break from sitting down, take a walk if you can, and grab a drink (hot, cold, long or short). We'll be back in 30 minutes.

Talk details coming soon

We are just confirming this speaker slot, we'll announce who is joining the line up very soon!

Leading Successfully, Through Leading Ourselves

The way organizations are approaching product development and emerging technologies are constantly changing. At the same time our practice as designers is evolving with new tools, techniques, and approaches, surfacing at a pace that can be hard to keep up with.

What does this mean for us as leaders of teams (big or small)? How can we lead teams in progressive orgs going through digital transformation or orgs that are slower to adapt?

By focusing on developing certain skills, disciplines, and characteristics, within ourselves as leaders, we prepare ourselves for the challenges we face when leading our teams and working with our partners. We also set ourselves up to be leaders that can coach, nurture, and elevate our teams to be best equipped for the challenges they face as they execute on their work.

In this presentation, Aaron will share insights, tools, and techniques (from personal success and failures) for growing his own leadership skills, overcoming leadership challenges, and successfully developing teams.

Takeaways:

  • Gauging and improving our EQ as leaders.
  • The role of vulnerability and transparency in successful leadership.
  • Adaptive communication and leadership styles for different types of team members and partners.
  • Leading through enabling autonomy.
  • Creating personal norms for successful leadership.
Aaron IrizarryHead of Credit Solutions Design, Capital One

Q&A with Aaron Irizarry

Andy will take your questions for Aaron and fellow speaker.

Aaron IrizarryHead of Credit Solutions Design, Capital One

Time for a break

Time for a stretch and a cuppa (or something stronger!) We'll be back in 30 minutes.

Talk Title TBD

More details coming soon - watch this space!

Doug PowellVice President of Design, IBM

Q&A with Doug Powell

Andy will take your questions for Doug.

Doug PowellVice President of Design, IBM

Outro for Day One

A few words from Andy about tomorrow and the rest of The Conference.

Day Two - The Leader's Journey

Introduction & Welcome

A few words from Andy on the day ahead

The Three Stages Of Leadership

In the words of Cap Watkins: “Congratulations. You got promoted – now prepare to suck at a completely different job.”

This is exactly what happened to Jane multiple times in her twenty year career. She has gone from being a designer, to leading a few people, to leading a team, and now as a director, leading multiple teams. The transitions to each of these three stages of leadership were tough, and painful, and yes, she sucked every time she got promoted into a new stage of leadership. In this talk Jane shares her experiences of each transition and talks about the mistakes she made and the lessons she learned, and gives you hard won advice so that when you get promoted you won’t suck at all.

Jane AustinChief Design Officer, Flo Health Inc.

Q&A with Jane Austin

Andy will take your questions for Jane.

Jane AustinChief Design Officer, Flo Health Inc.

Time for a break

Time for a break from sitting down, take a walk if you can, and grab a drink (hot, cold, long or short). We'll be back in 30 minutes.

Leading From The Middle, Lessons From The IC Track

There is a strong perception that one has to move into management if they want to succeed as a leader and expand their influence to have more impact. For many individual contributors, this is a tough choice to make. As someone who’s been successful both as people leader and as a leader in an individual contributor (IC) role, Keith will show that in many ways they’re much closer than many would expect.

In addition to his own experience, Keith’s been chatting with design leaders from all around, and noticing some common trends, problems and opportunities.

IC leaders are uniquely positioned to have terrific positive impact across nearly every aspect of a business. Keith will talk through some common problems keeping them from realizing that impact. He’ll cover some lessons learned over his 20 plus year career as a designer and share a unique perspective as someone who’s currently in a leadership position as an IC, has served in a dual role more than once, and has made the switch between IC leader and people manager a few times. With each lesson, he’ll offer up a bit of actionable advice for both ICs and managers.

Some common problems design orgs face:

  • Unclear expectations and lack of aspirational growth opportunities. This is coupled with Mangers, especially first time managers, aren’t well supported and often are unsure how to begin.

Partnerships and shared responsibility are key.

  • There is often a gap between strategy (the business) and execution.

Building influence with a goal of empowering others is the way forward, but know when to just do the work.

  • People skills aren’t taught early enough.

Design is all about people, from day one and you’ll need to develop your people skills to move up and keep adding value as you go.

  • Career ladders aren’t flexible enough to account for designers as they grow.

Craft is much more than we think it is. There are many ways to craft - play to individual strengths and challenge for growth.

For everyone - let’s redefine craft and what it means to be a maker. There are many ways to craft, and people skills are as much a craft as anything you do with design tools.

D. Keith RobinsonLead Product Designer, Atlassian

Design Leadership For Imposters

Over the years, you worked hard to become a great designer — you practised your craft, honed your skills and finally put those imposter syndrome days behind you. Now, with your experience in tow, you've taken the step into leadership. But yet you find yourself wondering: ""Wait. Have I got this right?"" and asking ""what the hell am I even doing here?"".

For anyone new to leading a design team and feeling like an imposter: you're not alone. In this session, I'll share my personal journey with impostor syndrome in leadership, and thoughts on how to move from feeling like you're faking it to finding your voice as a leader.

Temi AdeniyiDirector of Design, Blinkist

Q&A with D. Keith Robinson and Temi Adeniyi

Andy will take your questions for D. Keith and Temi.

D. Keith RobinsonLead Product Designer, Atlassian
Temi AdeniyiDirector of Design, Blinkist

Time for a break

Time for a stretch and a cuppa (or something stronger!) We'll be back in 30 minutes.

Talk title coming soon

More details on there way - watch this space!

Michael YapSenior Staff Designer, Etsy

Q&A with Michael Yap

Andy will take your questions for Michael.

Outro for Day Two

A few words from Andy about tomorrow and the rest of The Conference.

Day Three - Managing People and Looking After Your Team

Introduction & Welcome

A few words of welcome from Leading Design Festival curator and host Andy Budd and an introduction to today's theme.

Mythbusting Millennial Management

There are days where you want to wring your hands...or wring someone’s neck; feeling “These millennials, #ijustcant”. They’re a whole different animal, one whose sheer numbers are outpacing the rest of your company. While it might be overwhelming, or you find you can’t relate, by mythbusting these millennials — you’ll learn how to connect, understand and communicate to this breed.

All blinders will be taken off and you’ll be privy to an inside view of Design Department Structures, Stratification & Individual Requirements, overall Process and multiple Management Styles. We’ll also peek into a few product projects and delve into managing from a team, project, individual and company level.

How To’s ranging from analyzing baseline skillsets apart from raw talent, determining your reward cadence, to inspiring trust and passion will be tackled. Lastly, we’ll wander down the winding path of building a tight, productive and motivated ship working at full steam...not taking naps on the bean bag in the corner. This talk will be highly interactive, come prepared to turn the mirror inward on your team and tactics; and know (as your millennials certainly do) only the strong survive.

Christine PizzoBoston Studio Lead, Digital Products, Accenture

Q&A with Christine Pizzo

Andy will take your questions for Christine.

Christine PizzoBoston Studio Lead, Digital Products, Accenture

Time for a break

Time for a break from sitting down, take a walk if you can, and grab a drink (hot, cold, long or short). We'll be back in 30 minutes.

The Manager's Guide To 1:1's

In this talk Abi will look at how we can really make our 121's a success. From establishing trust, creating mutual purpose, and helping your team achieve their goals Abi will take us through her own journey with 121's and share what's she's learnt along the way!

Abi JonesUX Manager, Research & Innovation, Google Health

Design Leadership For Introverts (Iso-Edition)

Do you squirm in your seat when asked to introduce yourself? Do you find networking awkward and embarrassing? In meetings, do you find yourself keeping quiet even though you have something to say? Does a quiet evening at home with a book sound more attractive to you than an evening socialising with people you’ve never met?

If your answer to most of these questions is yes, congratulations: you are (probably) an introvert. As an introvert, you lose energy when engaging with people rather than gain. People engagement is not optional if you want to lead. So how do you lead as an introvert?

In this talk, Timothy will share techniques he's used to manage his own introversion in order to lead as a designer. He'll also share power tips he's learned leading a fully remote global team during coronavirus isolation that play to an introvert's strengths.

Timothy YeoHead of Design, Finder

Q&A with Abi Jones and Timothy Yeo

Andy will take your questions for Abi and Timothy.

Abi JonesUX Manager, Research & Innovation, Google Health
Timothy YeoHead of Design, Finder

Time for a break

Time for a stretch and a cuppa (or something stronger!) We'll be back in 30 minutes.

Building The Figma Design Team

In this talk Noah Levin will share his experience and philosophy of creating, growing and nurturing the Figma Design team. He’ll explain some of the key rituals they put in place as a team, share tools for onboarding and maintaining a culture of learning, and give insights from some mistakes made along the way.

Noah LevinDesign Director, Figma

Q&A with Noah Levin

Andy will take your questions for Noah.

Noah LevinDesign Director, Figma

Outro for Day Three

A few words from Andy to finish off The Conference and about the activities happening across the next month!

Day One - Design Leadership At Scale

Introduction & Welcome

A few words of welcome from Leading Design Festival curator and host Andy Budd and an introduction to today's theme.

The Atomic Unit Of Design Is The Team

At the heart of most agile development frameworks are small, cross-functional squads. And in those squads resides a lone designer, collaborating with a product owner and engineers. This model has lead to the quest for the Unicorn designer, the broadly skilled individual who can do interaction design, visual design, and maybe even content and research as well!

This trend has potentially terrible ramifications on the practice of design in companies. In this talk, Peter will explain why the Team, not any one designer, is the Atomic Unit of Design Organisations. Drawing upon his experience from shaping teams at Adaptive Path, through his work as a VP of Design and now management consultant for design orgs, he'll walk through the process of intentionally creating a strong, diverse team, what behaviours and norms enable a team to behave at their best, and explain why the Team Lead is the most important role in your design organisation (yes, even more than Head of Design).

Peter MerholzConsultant and Author

Q&A with Peter Merholz

Andy will take your questions for Peter.

Peter MerholzConsultant and Author

Time for a break

Time for a break from sitting down, take a walk if you can, and grab a drink (hot, cold, long or short). We'll be back in 30 minutes.

A Human Centred Approach To Scaling Design Teams

When teams grow, pain seems inevitable. Critiques feel like a council throw-down on Game of Thrones; tenured team members start feeling either smug or displaced; new joiners feel like they interrupted a movie in progress; everyone feels like they’ve lost the plot and aren’t sure what else will change; etc

How do we build a team while building its culture? How do we scale while strengthening that culture? When should we hire early-career designers versus seasoned veterans? “No pain, no gain” might work for body building, but for building a team, pain signals imminent entropy. There’s another way: Andrea will share her growth strategy, tactics, and tools for taking small design teams (fewer than a dozen members) to the next level.

Growth strategies Be human-centered. When a team grows, individual members experience it personally. Being human-centered means caring deeply about individuals to understand and manage their hopes, fears, and dreams. Negative experiences lead to attrition, and hiring becomes a Sisyphean task. Positive experiences have a flywheel effect on recruitment, culture, and bench strength. Co-create the team’s growth plan. We co-create and co-design outcomes with stakeholders because it brings them along for the journey. Why should growing a design team be different?

Tactics and tools Skills matrices. Designers use these to identify their own areas of interest and growth opportunities, providing rich fodder to ensure 1:1s don’t devolve into discussing the work. Balanced team approach. Depending on how an org is set up, it may not be possible to hire early-career designers until enough seniors are available to support them. Consciously build a culture of support and make team-based hiring decisions.

Andrea's experience of team growth as a designer has been traumatic. As a manager, she wanted to create a different outcome. She's proven it’s possible and now wants to share that experience.

Andrea OngDirector of Product Design, Loblaw Digital

The Internet (And The Companies That Design It) Needs More Safe Spaces

As the future of work and social interaction changes, a new era is upon us. One that comes with huge opportunities to re-design teams, cultures and products from the lense of the collective. By following Feminine principles we can create inclusive, safe environments that provide ample psychological oxygen, and ensure both individuals and communities can thrive.

Sana RaoVP of Product & Design, Peanut

Q&A with Andrea Ong and Sana Rao

Andy will take your questions for Andrea and Sana.

Andrea OngDirector of Product Design, Loblaw Digital
Sana RaoVP of Product & Design, Peanut

Time for a break

Time for a stretch and a cuppa (or something stronger!) We'll be back in 30 minutes.

Talk title coming soon

Steve Johnson will discuss lessons learned, best practices and what he wishes he could have simply done better regarding his leadership of the Netflix Design team during a global pandemic, social justice and the 2020 US Election.

Steve JohnsonVice President of Product Design and Studio Design, Netflix

Q&A with Steve Johnson

Andy will take your questions for Steve.

Steve JohnsonVice President of Product Design and Studio Design, Netflix

Outro for Day One

A few words from Andy about the highlights from today and the next Leading Design Festival activities.

Day Two - The Challenges of Leadership

Introduction & Welcome

A few words of welcome from Leading Design Festival curator and host Andy Budd and an introduction to today's theme.

Real Talk About Design Leadership

Many designers aspire to move into leadership positions at some point in their careers. They want to become a fearless design leader without a clear understanding of what it's all about. What is it really like to be a design leader? Time for real talk!

Alastair SimpsonVP Design, Dropbox

Q&A with Alastair Simpson

Andy will take your questions for Alastair.

Alastair SimpsonVP Design, Dropbox

Time for a break

Time for a break from sitting down, take a walk if you can, and grab a drink (hot, cold, long or short). We'll be back in 30 minutes.

Drowning in Uncertainty: Leading Through Unprecedented Times

From a global pandemic to an economic rollercoaster to a society embroiled in unrest, 2020 packed a punch. It also packed roughly 10 years of leadership lessons into a matter of months. Audrey will talk through those lessons and reflect on what it means to lead through extreme uncertainty in an industry that was one of the hardest hit by COVID.

Audrey LiuVP, Head of Design, Lyft

Talk details coming soon

We are just confirming this speaker slot, we'll announce who is joining the line up very soon!

Q&A with Audrey Liu

Andy will take your questions for Audrey and fellow speaker.

Audrey LiuVP, Head of Design, Lyft

Time for a break

Time for a stretch and a cuppa (or something stronger!) We'll be back in 30 minutes.

2nd Gen

Everyone has a personal history. Formative struggles and the happier times alike mold and teach us how to navigate our day-to-day. As a California-born Korean kid, Frank will talk about his experience as a second generation American, and how early questions of assimilation and identity shaped his career and perspective on effective teams and leadership.

Frank YooVP of Design & Research, Coinbase

Q&A with Frank Yoo

Andy will take your questions for Frank.

Frank YooVP of Design & Research, Coinbase

Outro for Day Two

A few words from Andy about the highlights from today and the next Leading Design Festival activities.

Day Three - Design Has a Seat at the Table. Now What?

Introduction & Welcome

A few words of welcome from Leading Design Festival curator and host Andy Budd and an introduction to today's theme.

Design Leadership: Crisis Edition

Stuart Frisby shares lessons learnt from leading a design team through the excitement and optimism of growth, to the fear and uncertainty of crisis.

Stuart Clarke-FrisbyDirector of Design, Deliveroo

Q&A with Stuart Clarke-Frisby

Andy will take your questions for Stuart.

Stuart Clarke-FrisbyDirector of Design, Deliveroo

Time for a break

Time for a break from sitting down, take a walk if you can, and grab a drink (hot, cold, long or short). We'll be back in 30 minutes.

Talk title TBD

More details coming soon - watch this space!

Dantley DavisChief Design Officer, Twitter

Leading Through Change

As companies of all sizes continue to accelerate building design capabilities, there is still very little common wisdom on what makes for a successful design organisation. While a focus on process, methods, tools, and outcomes is essential for credibility and traction, there is still a significant gap of knowledge when it comes to organisational and operational matters. So what are the most common issues - limited time and resources, involving the right people and teams, lack of proven value - which often have an impact on designer happiness and design team success. If we are to truly focus on the pillars of People, Practice and Platform, essentials for design orgs, then we need to champion the programs that support the desired outcomes for each pillar: happier designers, better designers, and more effective teams.

Kristin SkinnerCo-author, Org Design for Design Orgs, Founder &GSD

Q&A with Dantley Davis and Kristin Skinner

Andy will take your questions for Dantley and Kristin.

Dantley DavisChief Design Officer, Twitter
Kristin SkinnerCo-author, Org Design for Design Orgs, Founder &GSD

Time for a break

Time for a stretch and a cuppa (or something stronger!) We'll be back in 30 minutes.

Leading A Business By Design

"Getting a seat at the table" is often positioned as the ultimate goal. But getting the seat shouldn't be the goal. Creating incredible value for the company should. It often means being a great leader for your company first, and your discipline second.

Lynsey will share what she's learned and where she's failed in expanding her skills as her roles have expanded from a User Research team of one, to a 400+ UX team, to General Manager of the company's Core Product.

Lynsey ThorntonGM of Store Management, Shopify

Q&A with Lynsey Thornton

Andy will take your questions for Lynsey.

Lynsey ThorntonGM of Store Management, Shopify

Outro for Day Three

A few words from Andy about the highlights from today and the next Leading Design Festival activities.

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