COMPANY: Diligent
Leveling up the design team at Diligent


Product Designer Manager


Managing, hiring, coaching, strategy




Diligent is a SaaS company offering governance solutions to help organizations make better decisions.


• Designer career progression was only possible via becoming a manager, retention issue.
• Design team workflow was too complex and divergent while team had grown from a 12 to 34 headcount.


• Researched and launched updated career ladder across design teams leading to better retention and making Diligent more attractive when interviewing candidates.
• Released new design team Kanban workflow increasing productivity and visibility of work to all team members

Managing a distributed team across 5 timezones with 5 products

• Product design responsible for 5 products within Mission Driven group which handles non-profit and government organizations
• Team members in South America, India, Europe and West and East Coast North America.
• Developed and communicated a clear design strategy that supported the organization's goals and objectives.
• Continual discovery process across departments (project management, engineering and design) including monthly calls with customers, listening to customer recorded calls and keeping track of questions, issues or wanted improvements.
• Customer pain-points added to roadmap to ensure we lessen their misery and make them product fans.
• Regular cross-department meetings to communicate experience vision and sync on timelines and commitments.

• Developed contingency plans for design projects to mitigate risks and meet project timelines.
• Accessibility: Arranged audit and redesign of UI components to move products towards reaching WCAG 2.1. in Q1, 2024  > Opened up $5million+ new sales opportunities.
• Increased NPS scores 5-10% yearly across products.
• Frequent review of UX work to provide feedback and ensure quality output.
• I was selected as a company ambassador sent to Bangalore to help teach our products, help the new team onboard faster and show them how the company does certain things in designing and releasing product.
• Anticipating potential design risks and challenges, proactively addressing them to ensure smooth project execution.
• Ensure all work by team uses our design system. I helped review submitted components and contributed to the company design culture.
Replaced Diligent's outdated design team career ladders with an improved version
• We identified a strategic opportunity to improve the design team considerably due to a recurring issue. Previously designers were only able to progress beyond a certain level by entering management. This lead to frustration and poor performance, especially from designers forced to enter management if they were a craft orientated designer.
I helped update Diligent’s career ladder for the design team (Product Designers, UX Researchers, Design Managers, UX Developers).

• The redesign involved a lot of collaboration with the design leadership teams.  At least 6 sessions where we looked at career paths and key competencies areas such as strategy, execution and behaviors. I played a key role in framing questions, benchmarking against existing ladders in other companies and gathering feedback, listening for suggested improvements and formulating a coherent career ladder description.

• Result: The new career ladder made us feel better when communicating career progression now that it was suited to individual ability and preference. This had a impact from interviewing new candidates through existing team members thinking of their next step within the company. Existing team members were positive on the new split path, allowing some of them to want to stay in the company rather than leave to progress elsewhere.
• Old: 3 levels: Junior, senior, lead and then to product design manager
• New: 7 levels: Associate Product Designer (PD), Product Designer, Senior PD, Staff PD, Senior Staff PD, Principal PD, Senior Principal PD

Adding the new levels created space for a lot more craft-based career progression, while aligning the company career levels with where the industry has been heading. More levels enabled promotion rounds to continue for staff who stayed in the company.
Supported design team reports by coaching weaknesses into strengths
• Continual learning is required if you want to maintain a strong team and one responsibility is to help your reports grow.  I have found that the combination of one-on-one meetings plus what I notice from a designer generates a short list of skills that could be improved. I will usually bring these up at a certain point and see if we can create a program to improve said skill.

• A junior designer that worked me often struggled in communicating with clients and speaking up in research sessions. I raised this in a one-on-one and he was happy to work on this together. We collaborated on building a plan to help him improve. I put him to work on interviewing subject matter experts and customers over the next 3 months with supervision and support. Along the way we would check to review progress. He received additional feedback from cross department team members to get more feedback in order to learn and refine his skills.

• I modelled interview techniques and how to run meetings for him to learn and master. Observation led to practice lead to him leading sessions.
• He reported at the end of the skills improvement period that his confidence had doubled. He was now able to lead and manage user interviews, produce research reports that could be shared across departments and the design team.
Streamlined design team Kanban to unite larger team size and diverse work types
• At Diligent, our design team struggled with a lack of clear visibility on design work, how we document our work across sprint planning cycles and its progress as the team quadrupled in size and time zones. Once identified, the design management team implemented through a process of aligning and listening to our design teams members to understand and see their current workflows in action and document their needs.  
• We collected feedback from design, research, UX developers and UX operations. We we able to refine and simplify across teams so that a new unified Kanban was chosen.

• I implementated the results of our research and new workflow schema into JIRA. Dashboards were set up to track tickets stuck 'in review' or 'on hold' and over a period of month were able to reduce these items by 250%.