So what is the magic wand that older, senior designers need to survive in the fast evolving world of design?
Ramesh Kozhiserri, director of design, Walmart, has the answer: “Stick to your craft. Be an active practitioner. Always know your design truth, Never let go of that piece. Be more open-minded and willing to adapt. Go with the flow.”
With the Covid-19 threat hanging like a Damocles’ Sword over us, designers are equally guilty of doom-scrolling into the late night. However many of the experienced designers are also waking up to the new opportunities thrown up in the wake of the pandemic. To actively practice design in these times is like facing a fresh bag of challenges.
Once you get to a senior level, you can afford to imbibe these macro changes in society and exploit new opportunities. In the initial stages, you need to make sure you are learning and are able to execute, but those who have spent some time can “relearn” and ask questions that matter to the society as a whole, not just the design function.
Give Back to the Design Community
Active practitioners in design are also hugely sought after as mentors. In a recent survey by Norman Neilsen, most UX professionals reported a very positive impact on mentorship on their careers. 80% of those surveyed felt that all new entrants should have a mentor to do well as designers.
Source: Nielsen Norman Group
With senior designers mentoring most younger professionals, the design universe has been able to keep ageism at bay. Even now there is some stereotyping of design function:
Experience Shows in Client Preferences
Soft skills is another sphere where senior designers score over juniors and middle level designers. Over years, they have mastered communication skills, empathy, problem solving, listening and team collaboration. The experienced have also gained an edge over their younger colleagues during the pandemic because they are quite disciplined in the wfh scenario. They keep the communication lines open, establish a regular set of hours and cement a relationship of trust with the team and stakeholders.
Never stop practicing Design
Director of Design, Walmart, Ramesh Kozhiserri
VP, Product Design & Content QuickenLoans