Creating Impact and Change as Designers, No Matter Your Role

Author Date August 6, 2019 Read 3 min
1 ON 1 WITH PROJEKT202 EXPERIENCE DIRECTOR LAN NGUYEN How do you get started on a path toward design leadership? The truth is, there are many variations when…


How do you get started on a path toward design leadership?

The truth is, there are many variations when it comes to design teams. Designers’ roles shift and adapt according to the context, and so does the need for leaders. Designers can embrace building leadership skills at any stage of their careers to create greater value.

projekt202 Experience Director Lan Nguyen will share her expertise in an Aug. 14 panel discussion — “Creating Impact and Change as Designers, No Matter Your Role” — with creative professionals across a variety of Dallas-area companies.

Panelists will talk about the ways they have shaped how they lead and inspire their teams to create value in their organizations.

For additional insights, we asked Lan about the upcoming event in Irving and her background in design:

What should attendees to the design panel expect to learn or take away?

We plan to discuss:

  • Empowerment: What does it mean to empower people when each person is unique.
  • Emotional intelligence: There can be too much empathy; sometimes, it’s about a business decision, and catering to everyone’s needs may not be effective.
  • Boundary setting for the team and oneself as the UX leader: Boundary-setting to protect individual values alignment and personal conversations with direct reports.
  • Impostor syndrome
  • Evangelizing UX though balancing views in collaboration with partners: Having the ability to step in and out of different perspectives by putting people first, like we do our users, and how it plays a role in influencing teams.

One focus will be on getting started in design leadership. How did you get started in design?

I had always had an interest in being creative as a child. As I grew older, I began focusing on drawing, especially anime. My brother later taught me how to digitize them in Photoshop and I instantly fell in love with it.

I later expanded into Front-End Development for my Asian Avenue and Xanga page. By this point, it was a huge part of my identity and known to others around me, so I started getting freelance gigs.

Once I graduated, I lived in New York to work on a startup and then moved back to Dallas to continue my career. I came to projekt202 because I wanted to continue learning from our very own Andy Riley. He’s been a huge inspiration in my career among many of our colleagues.

What do you think it takes to be a successful designer?

When I was just starting out, I used to believe success was being a Creative Director, making X amount of money. Now, I would define it as how I am able to help my colleagues achieve their goals. I find that’s more fulfilling and helpful. And the best part is, you don’t have to be in a leadership/management position to do this.

What advice would you give someone just starting out?

It’s not always going to be sexy, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. You won’t love everything you do, but there’s always something to learn. Design is more than just craft.

Your teammates are also important – all of them. Aim to be someone who pulls people up. You’ll always go farther together.

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