I am currently focused on Latitude 7000 series products having worked in most of the lines of business within the Dell commercial portfolio. I have been on the Design Path most of my life. I didn’t know it but as a youngster I was already on the path. My fidgeting and compulsive behavior was a correct fit for the process of Design. I grew up with a father that is still a practicing Architect at the age of 87. I was exposed but never pushed into Design early on. I started off in Architecture School. Then, I found Industrial Design. All over a cup of coffee. What a revelation. I still love Architecture and think it’s one of the greatest Design professions but Industrial Design was something that suited me the best. Architecture was truly the first profession that thought and explored the user experience. I liked the most how I could hold these things in my hands and really manipulate the design physically. It was also a much quicker process to getting finished products completed. I have always found it very satisfying.
My career started at IBM and I had the privilege to work with some of the most amazing people in the industry. Most notably I got to work with Richard Sapper. A real living Design Master. The opportunity to work with such a person was truly something special. Being able to work side by side and learn directly from the man was, and still is, one of the highlights of my career. Also, fortunately in my career I had, which I didn’t know at the time was a truly excellent mentor. John Swansey was someone who showed patience and good humor while teaching me the journeyman’s duties of an Industrial Designer. I was a youngster working with individuals that were very experienced and I knew it. I worked as much as I could whenever there was work to be done. I would estimate that my 4 years there were really 6 years when I was finally left. Every minute I was learning and growing. I was put into situations that I look back now that were unusual for someone as young and new to the profession as I was. I will always cherish those days.
My next career move was to Intel Corporation (after a very short 3 month stint at Tupperware). I found now that I look back on that time, I was off the Path. I went into that job with no humility. Too much arrogance and not really doing my duties as a Designer by not being empathetic enough to my co-workers. Everything I did was putting me into places that were wrong. I did what I was supposed to do but I did not go into that job with my eyes open and a willingness to learn from other individuals. As designers we can learn from others who aren’t designers. I did have moments of getting around some truly remarkable people but I did not look at in that perspective. Not being on the Path because I didn’t know what the Path was put me back. I did not grow and did not have any forward motion. Essentially I was occupying space. I was too immature for such a job and not sophisticated enough at handling the situations put before me. I could go on and on.
Next I landed at Philips Design. I had to get myself back on the Path and getting the opportunity to work in such a larger global design organization was very eye opening. I was exposed to many different types of Designers with different styles and different personalities that suddenly my eyes were open to the possibility of what could be versus what should be. It was up to me to change my perspective. I was put into new situations, and fortunately I had a very nice and patient British manager that somehow saw that I could actually do the work and function as a team member. David Bentham was an awesome manager and I gained a lot of experience working under him. It was the perfect place for me to develop and move forward as a professional Industrial Designer. I learned how to really build the bridges necessary to create what was expected of our development team. It was rough at first but there was no choice. One thing I began to learn is that creativity comes in any discipline and any type of person. Not just someone with bushy hair and an interesting pair of shoes only available in Europe. I learned true empathy of the customer. Designing medical equipment really makes you think about work flow and how it affects the clinical specialist and the patient. You really have to solve problems. The Philips Design process was perfect in setting you up for perfecting the design and providing a winning solution for the business unit. I was very privileged to have worked for Philips Design during these years. It was one of the best Design jobs I have ever had up to that point in my career. But. Living in New England was a tad too harsh for me and I really didn’t understand the snow shoveling process having grown up in Charleston SC.
I changed my job from there with some excellent contacts I had from my IBM days to Dell. I went to Texas as fast as I could. I continued on the Path of Design. I wavered some but stayed on the Path. I worked then and still do work with some of the best Designers in the Industry and am truly blessed to have this opportunity. At Dell Technologies we have the brightest minds in the technology Industry and the standards are set high. You are truly as good as the people you surround yourself with and I am surrounded by some excellent people from all disciplines. Being an excellent Designer means listening more than talking. Be willing to take ideas from anyone and anywhere.
Where do you find your Path? I am interested in knowing what your opinion is of the Design Path and I hope that you will join the conversation.
I began my career fresh out of design school working at IBM. Working during the early days of Austin inside of the tech industry felt somewhat like the electronic wild west. I was fortunate to have fantastic mentors who became lifelong friends and have been able to provide great insights at pivotal points in my development as a design professional. Since designers are naturally curious creatures, and as the saying goes “curiosity killed the cat”, I decided to dip my toe in the consulting pond. I lived in the Chicago area and was one of the first designers at a new firm. Working at a new firm, and as a fairly green designer, without an established design culture and process felt like being on the Oregon trail of career development. We set the rules and the processes, in retrospect naive as I was, it sometimes turned out great and sometimes turned into what we call in life “a great learning experience”. With a very young family at the time, the beckoning of stability called, and I returned to sunny warm Austin and started employment at Dell. This was back in the early days of Dell before the establishment of the current and substantial design team and culture. We embarked on many firsts during this time and I was fortunate to work with so many great people. This period was an exceptional education in all aspects of product development, from learning the minutia of tool design, to marketing research, to procurement processes, and so forth all the while learning to steer and navigate inside of larger teams and organizations. After six years, the lure of the consulting world and its variety again knocked. I started Axis Design in 2005 and have been at it ever since. As a team, we have evolved over the years to try and meet the ever changing market. I continue to welcome the daily challenges, growth, and rewards that working in the design field brings.
My creative inclination has always been what defines me. Ever since I was a little kid, I would dig myself in my art, sketching for hours every day. I was always “the kid that could draw” and that gave me a great sense of satisfaction, and still does to this day. When I graduated high school, I wanted to be an artist and enrolled in college to be a fine artist, only to find out that I wasn’t being challenged. I was doing exactly the same thing that I had already been doing for years. I decided to change my career and stumbled upon Industrial Design, I immediately applied to 4 schools and ended up enrolling at the University of Houston a few weeks later. I have since graduated from the University of Houston with an Industrial Design major, and I couldn’t have found a better career for me. I enjoy the design process and the ability to not only design beautiful things but also functional ones.
I am highly interested in the intersection between art, design, and technology. It gives me a lot of hope for the future of design, because as technology keeps advancing, the overlap between art, design, and technology is becoming seamless. I think that the future of products and design overall, is extremely exciting because we will be able to design with functionality and forms, we never imagined before.