Challenge and opportunity
At the start of my work at Palantir, I recognized that there was a unique challenge and opportunity: I could build and nurture a design organization in a hyper-growth engineering environment — creating a huge lever for the business — while having a profound impact on a range of difficult and important real-world problems.
Over time, I brought design closer to the heart of the business, acting as the principal standard-bearer and advocate for the value and relevance of a strong design practice and a capable and well-staffed design team.
Hiring and growth
I led the growth of the Product Design team, first hiring and developing a core team in Palo Alto, and then in London and New York. I developed the design hiring pipeline, college recruiting program, internship program, and deeply engaged in sourcing, recruiting, and interviewing — ultimately leading to hiring world-class industry talent. Inititally I sourced and recruited my own candidates, and eventually worked with, and helped develop dedicated sourcers and recruiters. As a result of working with me, several talented people from the recruiting team have become calibrated experts in the field of design recruiting, and have gone on to make that the focus of their work, both at Palantir and now at other design-centric companies.
I elevated and mentored a truly excellent cohort of high-performing, empathetic and nurturing managers, and created the first Principal (IC) track definition in the company. Most of the managers I raised were internal hires, and I worked closely with my leadership team to develop and improve their abilities as managers. Near the end of my tenure at the company, I also transitioned and elevated two department heads to take over leadership each of the design sub-organizations, product and brand design. I was also a staff leadership mentor in our internal management training and education program, and helped advise and mentor leaders in engineering, real estate and other departments.
One design team
Prior to 2014, there were two separate design teams in the company. The product designers were part of the Product organization, and the communication designers were part of Internal Development team. The two teams didn’t interact, and rarely spent time together. Discussion with the designers in both teams indicated a strong desire to collaborate, share work, grow together, and help fuse our work into a more consistent and coherent whole. In mid-2014, we made the decision to create a unified design team — with both groups under one roof — and I assumed leadership of the overall organization, eventually growing it to 40+ people by 2016.
In Palantir’s internal surveys, the design team consistently ranks in the top percentages of well-being, happiness and satisfaction. It is widely regarded as one of the most successful and effective groups at Palantir. The attrition rate was far below average for the first few years, and eventually rose to comparable levels with the company average. The design team is also one of the more diverse teams in the company, with an increasing mixture of race, gender, and multi-nationality that stands in contrast to typical silicon valley teams.
I’m extremely proud of the work I did with this team — I’m in awe of their talent and accomplishment, and I made several friendships that I expect to last for years to come.