Leadership in UX field



Hi guys,

You people are really helpful.

I am a grad student. I have an assignment where I need to Interview people in our field User Experience Design.
I feel this is the right community where I can find the help from UX designers . If you feel like helping me please provide your insights and answers to the following questions.
This also gives you a more understanding of you and your organization.

The questions are as follows -

  1. What are three key challenges you face when leading in your science / technology sector of business and how do you currently maneuver to lessen the impact or to negate the impact?

  2. What advice do you have for a future UXD to be successful and become a leader in your field?

  3. Where do you see your business growth coming in the next 3 – 5 years?

  4. What attributes will be needed in the leaders in your company in the future and why?

Answers can be small or big or anything. Your contribution is really appreciated.


Hi Karthik,
Great to hear from you.

These are great questions, but in my experience, most people don’t like publicly calling themselves “leaders” (even when they clearly are!).

If you edit your post slightly you might get more responses.

Does that make sense?


Actually, while I think of it, we’re about to publish an article (or perhaps a series) written by a group of amazing UL leaders, answering some very similar questions to yours. Keep an eye out for that in the next couple of weeks.


Sure I will check that.


Yes, it makes sense. I will work on it.
Thanks for the advice :slight_smile:


Hi @kkeertipati,

Yes I agree with @HAWK’s suggestion. If you are looking specifically for people who are e.g. “Head of UX” at big companies to answer, then you could maybe keep the wording of “leader”. But if you want all sorts of UX Designers to answer you could think about the wording :slight_smile:

I am a senior UX Designer in a startup, and have worked in bigger companies and a digital agency. Here are my answers:

1) What are three key challenges you face when leading in your science / technology sector of business and how do you currently maneuver to lessen the impact or to negate the impact?

I actually don’t really understand this question.

Are you asking about my challenges in the field of UX? Or my challenges in the sector of Education (the startup I work at is in the education sector).

And why do you ask about lessening or negating the impact? Do you mean “how do I overcome these challenges”?

2) What advice do you have for a future UXD to be successful and become a leader in your field?

  • Choose to work on things you really care about. Not what looks good on your CV. Turn down that job that pays 5000€ more, and take the fun job that you are passionate about.
  • Get a variety of experience. If your first job is at a design agency, make your next job a bigger company, then maybe some freelancing, then a start-up. All these types of jobs will give you a different view on customers, users, business needs, budgets, profit, scale of projects…
  • Go to meetups and workshops. Learn from others outside your job. Be part of the UX landscape as it evolves. Not just inside your own job/company.
  • Give talks (at meetups, barcamps, in your own office). Forcing yourself to be the expert on a topic, helps you to become the expert. It feels like you should become an expert first, but it’s actually the other way around.

3) Where do you see your business growth coming in the next 3 – 5 years?
This is a really big, tough question. In the company I work for I think there will be two big factors.

  1. Pinpointing the market accurately. Through continued exploratory user research of our customers and potential customers. Iterating our product constantly and testing options.
  2. Refining our product offering so that we really are the best at what we do. Also through more specific user research of our existing customers and open feedback cycles so that we know what to tweak and change.

4) What attributes will be needed in the leaders in your company in the future and why?

  • Experimenters
  • Visionaries
  • Optimists
  • Pessimists
  • Perfectionists
  • Pragmatists
    … that’s a very confusing answer. Sorry! :slight_smile:


@HAWK is right-- true leaders prefer to be acknowledged by their peers rather than self-declared. That said, I’ll do what I can to answer your questions.

  1. My thoughts:

i.) The web design industry, as a whole, does not have a good understanding of the difference and value propositions focusing on both user interface and user experience. While the two are often related, they are also often confused. Muddying the waters is the fact that many professionals in our industry are asked to perform a variety of functions that, ideally, would either be performed by both a UI and a UX professional. The crossover is negating some of the gains of having two separate teams focusing on different elements of each. To get a feel for the difference and why it’s important, please feel free to check out my blog post on the subject. Educating young professionals and corporate leadership on the difference is one way I work to negate the impact of this issue.

ii.) Many professionals come to the UX industry from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. In truth, you don’t have to be a good technology professional to be a good UX’er-- you need to have a passion for solving problems, a drive for improvement, and the ability and empathy to see things from your users’ perspectives. As a result, UX professionals come from a variety of backgrounds. Here on UX Mastery, we have architects, engineers, journalists, and a variety of other professionals.

This is both a strength of the industry, as it means we have a wide variety of valuable and interesting skill sets to draw from, but it’s also a detriment in that many look to get into the UX industry without having a common skill set. Furthermore, the skill set employers ask for is often at odds with the value of the skills of a potential employee could offer.

Defining that skill set and working to create a common conception of what basic skills a UX’er should possess before getting into different areas of the business is one of the reasons I’m here on UX Mastery. I personally had careers as a sports journalist, freelance web developer, digital sign developer, restaurant server, retail manager, call center phone jockey, and corporate trainer before I finally settled into this career. Each job taught me something valuable to my UX career, and I feel that I have a lot to offer the community at large. I’m here on UX Mastery offering my experience and thoughts in every way possible to try and lessen the impact of gaps in knowledge or experience within the community.

iii.) The wide variety of technology requiring UX focus, along with the variety of different roles a UX’er might pursue, make finding a niche difficult for many people. Simply put, there’s a lot of opportunities out there in the UX world at the moment. Different people might be more well-suited to different careers at different points in time.

As an example, I’m currently mentoring a really great young professional who’s trying to get his foot into the UX world. His background is in the financial world, where he interacts with customers and provides technical support on a daily basis. Due to his relative newness to the industry, his affinity for statistics, and his excellent people skills, I’m guiding him towards exploring a career as a UX Researcher, a career very different from a UX Designer or Engineer role.

By providing online and in-person mentoring, I’m doing what I can to help new professionals build their skills and find their niche. My hope is this will, in some small way, help to eliminate this barrier to entry for many who would be well-suited to the UX world.

2.) Being successful and being a leader are two very different things. Some of the most successful people I know are people who merely follow orders to a T, providing excellent execution of the ideas and thoughts of others. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this. I merely use it as an example of how the two aren’t necessarily correlated.

To be successful, I’d recommend anyone looking to get into the world of UX do three things-- build the basic skills required of every UX professional, find a niche within the industry to focus on, and to find ways to get practical, real-world experience.

I talk a bit about the first two points in my answer to your first question, but when it comes to building real-world experience it can often be difficult to find opportunities to which you can contribute. @seyonwind, perhaps, can provide some insight into some ways to get some good experience ahead of trying to enter the industry full-time as his work ethic and diligence in volunteering for UX-related projects and causes is apparent to all who know him, online or not. My advice is to work on your own projects, to volunteer for open source projects, or offer your skills to charity (catchafire.org/ is a great place to start.)

To be a leader, it’s imperative that you seek to serve the industry in any way you can. For different people, that means different things. For me, it means hanging out in places like this and answering questions for the interested and inquisitive individuals like you. For others, it takes the shape of volunteering their services to nonprofits, blogging on the subject of UX, and providing mentoring services for young professionals.

3.) Who knows where UX growth will come from in the next 3-5 years? One of my favorite areas that hasn’t had much discussion, but will need a lot of UX attention, will be in self-driving cars and related applications. Tesla right now is leading the world in this area, but major and minor players alike will create quite a bit of competition as they enter the industry. That means more specific UX jobs for the industry.

4.) In general, corporate leadership will need the ability to better understand the value proposition of investing in user experience. At the moment, it feels like a bit of a reaction to buzzwords rather than true understanding of the UX professional and their value that’s driving the UX industry.

I hope that helps! Apologies for any typos-- I’m hammering this out before a meeting and not giving it my usual once-over before I post as said meeting starts in just a minute or two. Let me know if I can clarify anything or provide any additional context :slight_smile:

Portfolios for *research*?