Tom Takigayama

Tom is passionate about co-creating emotionally resonant and impactful experiences that balances customer and business value. As Director of Product Design at Justworks he leads a talented team of designers in crafting intuitive and visually compelling solutions for a global audience.

With over two decades of experience, Tom has had the privilege of working with companies like Ralph Lauren, Gilt Groupe, and Etsy, where he designed and launched Gilt Home, Gilt Groupe’s expansion from fashion to home, and expanded Etsy’s direct checkout, enabling sellers worldwide to sell their goods and services to a global audience.

Throughout his eight years at Justworks, Tom has grown with the company through a variety of roles. Having joined as an individual contributing product he transitioned to managing and then growing the product design function, where many painful lessons were learnt. He later stepped down from head of product design to return to an individual contributor role to start a new business initiative expanding Justworks customer’s access to talent globally. This international investment grew and once again he is managing and growing a team of designers.

Outside of work, Tom enjoys the joys and struggles of DIY home improvement and building legos with his five year old son, finding inspiration in building for exploration.

Tom Takigayama

About the talk

Embracing the pendulum: Navigating the fluid transition between manager and maker

- Barbican Centre

In the dynamic world of design leadership, transitioning between managerial roles and individual contributor positions is not a hard pivot, but rather a pendulum swing that brings value and perspective to your career. Don't fear moving back and forth, and don't get stuck in a single lane.

This pendulum swing enriches your experience, offering a broader outlook on both strategic and hands-on aspects of design. Align your decisions with your evolving values, and remember, it's perfectly fine for those values to shift over time. By letting go of rigid identity and ego, you open yourself up to new opportunities and growth. Embrace the transferability of your skills, knowing that each role you take on contributes to your overall development and effectiveness as a design leader.

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