Who can mentor a UX pro that's already a director?

21 May 2010 - 3:48pm
4 years ago
10 replies
956 reads
Jayson Elliot
2008

This may be an unusual question, or it may not be.

I'm a UX director, have been working in the field of interactive design since the mid-'90s and as an IA since 1998. I feel like I'm starting to hit a ceiling in terms of professional growth.

As the most senior UX person in my company, there's no one I can turn to in the agency to help me grow.

Is there anyone who is at a place in their career where they feel they could provide some peer mentorship? Or perhaps someone who would just like to give some one-on-one advice?


Please drop me a line directly if you're interested. Thanks!

Comments

21 May 2010 - 7:05pm
david.shaw6@gma...
2004

Jayson,

One question you have to ask yourself is what next step do you want to
take. Do you want to stay on a strategic, leader/manager path or do
you want to get back to being more hands on and tactical? I think
that will help people define who might be able to help. I'd also look
into the IxDA site as I know there is a mentor program (I believe).

Good Luck! David

"we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our
children"

  • Native American Proverb

On May 21, 2010, at 3:36 PM, Jayson Elliot
wrote:

> This may be an unusual question, or it may not be.I'm a UX director,
> have been working in the field of interactive design since the
> mid-'90s and as an IA since 1998. I feel like I'm starting to hit a
> ceiling in terms of professional growth. > > As the most senior UX person in my company, there's no one I can
> turn to in the agency to help me grow. Is there anyone who is at a
> place in their career where they feel they could provide some peer
> mentorship? Or perhaps someone who would just like to give some one- > on-one advice? > > Please drop me a line directly if you're interested. Thanks! > >

21 May 2010 - 8:05pm
Navid
2010

I'm not sure what your needs are and if I have the bandwidth for something regular, but we could start with a 1/2hr discussion.If something comes out of it on some specific angle or not then that could be beneficial.
Navid

On Fri, May 21, 2010 at 5:21 PM, Jayson Elliot <jayson.elliot@gmail.com> wrote:

This may be an unusual question, or it may not be.I'm a UX director, have been working in the field of interactive design since the mid-'90s and as an IA since 1998. I feel like I'm starting to hit a ceiling in terms of professional growth.

As the most senior UX person in my company, there's no one I can turn to in the agency to help me grow. Is there anyone who is at a place in their career where they feel they could provide some peer mentorship? Or perhaps someone who would just like to give some one-on-one advice?

Please drop me a line directly if you're interested. Thanks!

21 May 2010 - 11:13pm
Alan James Salmoni
2008
I would say that the first stage would be for you to identify those areas that you feel are weakest - what needs to be improved the most. These might be hard skills (eg, mastering Photoshop) or prototyping, or softer skills. If you're at a senior level, then maybe you need several mentors to cover different areas rather than a single one? Alternatively, think laterally and mentor someone else who's also quite experienced: teaching helps to consolidate your knowledge of a topic and forces you to learn things that you want to teach but aren't too sure about. A good relationship could help you both explore collaboratively if it's too difficult to find a reliably good mentor.
22 May 2010 - 1:05pm
Charlie Kreitzberg
2008

Hi Jayson:

I would agree with Alan that getting clear about your goals is essential. It may be that some of the issues you are facing are less elements of design management and more about how to be most effective within your organization.

Interpersonal issues, maintaining appropriate influence and demonstrating ongoing business value are examples of areas that more senior people often want to explore.

It seems to me that you might want to consider two options. The first would be to set up some form of networking with peers who can share insights about what works from them. The second options would be to consider working with a qualified executive coach who can help you deal with organizational frustrations and give you feedback on your influencing and interpersonal concerns.

If I can be of any help, please feel free to contact me.

Best,

Charlie

============================ Charles B. Kreitzberg, Ph.D. CEO, Cognetics Corporation

charlie (at) cognetics.com

Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA) Discussion! Manage Account .......... http://www.ixda.org/user/21876/notifications Discussion Guidelines .......... http://www.ixda.org/help

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22 May 2010 - 12:06am
Steve Baty
2009

Jayson,

My suggestion would be to identify members of the community you see as peers - people at similar stages of their careers - and reach out to them for occasional advice. I've found personally this to be a valuable way of gaining assistance, even if that's in the form of a sense-check on a line of thinking in response to a specific challenge or opportunity. You will be offer these people your own perspective on their experiences, which is valuable to you all.

Regards
Steve

On 22 May 2010 07:54, Jayson Elliot <jayson.elliot@gmail.com> wrote:

This may be an unusual question, or it may not be.I'm a UX director, have been working in the field of interactive design since the mid-'90s and as an IA since 1998. I feel like I'm starting to hit a ceiling in terms of professional growth.

As the most senior UX person in my company, there's no one I can turn to in the agency to help me grow. Is there anyone who is at a place in their career where they feel they could provide some peer mentorship? Or perhaps someone who would just like to give some one-on-one advice?

Please drop me a line directly if you're interested. Thanks!

24 May 2010 - 9:43pm
Alicia Nachman
2009

It may seem counter-intuitive, but try finding a 'reverse mentor.' That would be someone less experienced than you, possibly even just starting out in their career. Often times, these people will be younger than you and bring a totally different perspective to technology, process, problem-solving, etc.  After being in a particular industry and role for a long period of time, it's possible to get stuck in your ways, and a fresh perspective can potentially open up some new ideas for you. If you mentor them as well, it can be a mutually beneficial situation.

24 May 2010 - 10:29pm
Mike Dunn
2008

Alicia is absolutely right- My experience mentoring has not only exposed me to ideas I might not have thought of myself, but it's helped validate and lock in the skills I've passed along. Highly gratifying experience.

25 May 2010 - 9:39am
Dave Malouf
2005

Hi Jayson,

I was in your position for years. Always at the top of the design org chart. A few pieces of good advice were already said which I want to highlight here and add some others:

1) teaching is the ultimate teaching tool. Mentoring others and teaching them forces you to clarify and enhance your own knowledge and practice. 

2) peer-mentoring is also powerful. This works both within your organization and with people from other organizations. This also works really well working with people from related disciplines. A manager's club can be really useful since so much of what you are doing is about HR Management.

3) Share your thinking globally. Blog, tweet, post here. What are your thoughts for now? Put it out there. Thought leadership is not (only) an attempt for self-grandstanding, but like teaching is a means for refining and learning from all sorts of people. I never stop learning from sharing.

4) Lead an organization. I have said this before, my sole self-interested motivation for starting IxDA (and many other organizations I've helped found over the years) is to be placed in close proximity to amazing people. By leading in IxDA I have had access to people well "above my pay grade". Some of these encounters have been short and possible perceived as fleeting, but all of them have been incredibly rewarding and I value the ones from the past and the ones I have yet to meet.

5) This one is a bit harsh, but if you feel you are not growing in your job any longer (not that you said this, but it could be why you are hungry for mentors) it might be time to move on. When I moved from IntraLinks to Motorola it was to do just that. I was done (for me) in the web space and my heart wanted to move on to Industrial Design and so I did just that. So for two years I worked with amazing designers who were more than my senior. I received direct mentorship and learned parallel design thinking skills I would have never gotten if I stayed where I was regardless of how many mentors I had. The reason is that mentors work best when you are doing direct things.

MMV (mileage may vary)

-- dave

26 May 2010 - 10:54am
bminihan
2007

Jayson, I know we've chatted offline, but in the interest of sharing...

Along the lines of other's comments, you could also step DOWN from your role, for the right project in the right company, where you see a real opportunity to build or change strategy from the ground up.  I've taken positions for half my going rate at a much lower position, when I felt the opportunity to grow and set a design vision for a company was just too great to pass up.

I'm not rich, by any means, and (ask my wife) can't really afford to do that too often.  However, once you've had to do it, you learn to predict how long it will take to double your salary again, and move back to the position you originally envisioned (i've done this three times in 15 years).  You'd be surprised how quickly a company will change its strategy and move you to the strategic role you need, once you've proven your trustworthiness and learned the culture from the ground up.

Admittedly, I have a bizarre metric for success, and am highly internally-driven.  As mentioned above, your mileage may vary, with this approach.

Bryan

26 May 2010 - 9:05pm
miss ruffian
2010

Maybe you just might learn a bit from new UX people, fresh ideas, light-heartedness, while I am in the same position as you, I am often learn quite a bit from my testes and developers!  No ego here.
J

On Fri, May 21, 2010 at 6:26 PM, Jayson Elliot <jayson.elliot@gmail.com> wrote:

This may be an unusual question, or it may not be.I'm a UX director, have been working in the field of interactive design since the mid-'90s and as an IA since 1998. I feel like I'm starting to hit a ceiling in terms of professional growth.

As the most senior UX person in my company, there's no one I can turn to in the agency to help me grow. Is there anyone who is at a place in their career where they feel they could provide some peer mentorship? Or perhaps someone who would just like to give some one-on-one advice?

Please drop me a line directly if you're interested. Thanks!

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