Get to know Darren, Store Visual Merchandiser

What is the best thing about being a leader at Target?
The best thing about being a leader at Target is being able to share my knowledge and experiences as a visual merchandiser with other team members. Nothing is better than helping a team member who may be new to merchandising, really understand a Visual Merchandising Guide!

What was the most exciting thing that happened this year?
The most exciting thing to happen to me over the past few months was the new full store remodel at our Target store. This was an awesome opportunity to completely revamp the style floor pad and watch the entire team play a part in making the Apparel & Accessories 2.0. vision come to life.

Who should every leader be reading right now?
“Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinek. It is about making your team feel valued and how to be an effective leader.

What’s your greatest accomplishment in your career at Target so far?
My greatest personal accomplishment thus far in my Target career was being recognized by our Visual Merchandising Director in front of the entire group for my outstanding work during the new brand launch of “Wild Fable”. My greatest leadership accomplishment was training two new Visual Merchandisers in our district.

What is your favorite thing about working at Target?
My favorite thing about working at Target is that everyone works together as a TEAM! Since the day I have started, everyone has been willing to offer a helping hand when needed.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I grew up, I wanted to be a Fashion Designer! Unfortunately I couldn’t draw, so my dreams shifted to being a wardrobe stylist and I get to express my creativity every day by putting looks (outfits) together.

What is the hardest thing about being a leader?
The hardest thing about being a leader is getting your team on board with you. Once you have your team behind you, you can accomplish anything!

Best career advice that you’ve received?
The best career advice I’ve received is to never give up on your dreams. Even when things aren’t going the way you predicted, you have to be consistent and persistent with whatever goal you want to achieve in your career. Period.

Dogs or cats?
Neither, I’m allergic.

What is your superpower/unicorn flavor?
My superpower is the ability to put fashionable looks together. You have to have a certain eye to know what looks good on someone, and for me it comes naturally.

Anything else?
Follow me on twitter @VMDarren1345 🙂

Interested in learning more about a career at Target? Visit Target Careers!

Get to know Sara, Director of Product Design – Target.com

What is the best thing about working in Product Design?
What I’ve always loved is solving a big, gnarly problem involving technical limitations and true guest problems / benefits that has a nice juicy financial impact. Ecommerce provides lots of opportunities to do that.

What is the hardest thing about working in Product Design?
Having to make compromises and sacrifices to get things done. I’m a recovering perfectionist and I’ve learned it’s more important to ship something than to hold it close until it’s 100%. We need to get things out there and learn from the reaction to them.

What’s your greatest accomplishment in your career at Target so far?
Building our team! Over the five years I’ve been here, we have grown from a team of 10 working on a project-by-project basis, to the team of 60 we have today. We’re embedded within products for Target.com, Target apps, Registries and Enterprise tools for corporate and store team members. And we’re still growing, influencing and making great software for Target. It’s been an amazing ride so far and our trajectory is pushing us toward even greater impact.

What is your favorite thing about working at Target?
This is a company whose mission I really believe in. The image Target has of being an inclusive, fun and caring place is true both in our stores for our guests as well as at the office. I truly love the people I work with and enjoy coming to work to hang out with them and work together to create cool stuff.

What was the most exciting thing that happened this year?
Target announced its’ holiday (Thanksgiving through New Years’) earnings results and they were amazing. It’s always great to see how all of our efforts pay off for the guest and the company. Retail is a tough industry right now and I truly believe in the work we’re doing here and I’m happy to see our guests respond to it as well.

Who/What should every designer be reading/following right now?
I’ve enjoyed Luke Wroblewski’s series of “what would augment reality?” http://bit.ly/2n3MDQV

For research, Tomer Sharon is doing some really interesting work in gathering & making research insights available to an organization: https://medium.com/@tsharon. This is something we’re working on developing at Target as well because we do so much research and we need to make sure everyone can access and use it.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
It’s hard to remember that far back. It was probably a princess and a teacher.

Best career advice that you’ve received?
Always be training your replacement. It’s the only way you yourself can move on to new things.

Dogs or cats?
I have one of each at home. I’d also like to own goats, chickens, a pig or two, keep bees and also have a couple of horses. I’m not willing to choose any one species, apparently.

What is your superpower?
Solving problems and being persistent in getting the hard stuff done.

Anything else you want to say?
We’re hiring Designers, Researchers and UX Writers on most of our teams!

Get to Know Jennifer, Principal UX Researcher

What is the best thing about being a UX Researcher?
Being a researcher means you are getting paid to ask a lot of questions and it is an asset to keep one’s child-like curiosity. My most favorite part is during analyses of findings because a researcher has this exclusive chance of knowing something “new” that potentially no one else knows or has thought of before. It is a brief moment, magical almost, but it is an experience shared by researchers around the world and throughout history – the joy of discovery.

What is the hardest thing about being a UX Researcher?
To be a researcher is like being that one horrible person telling everyone else that “their baby is ugly.” It is something that researchers need to prepare for, mentally & emotionally. I have experienced different reactions through the years and I have learned that what separates great researchers from rest is the fact that great researchers don’t say “your baby is ugly” but instead, telling others “so it is not perfect but it could approximate perfection, let us work together to make it better than how it is right now.”

What’s your greatest accomplishment in your career at Target so far?
My first month at Target can be best described by the phrase “hitting the ground running” because as I was just getting to know my colleagues, setting up my benefits, and learning the new acronyms used in the company, I was also running back-to-back research studies both in-person and remote. Thriving within Target culture is something I consider an accomplishment. With regards to “the greatest” – that is yet to come.

What is your favorite thing about working at Target?
At Target, I have never felt lost or alone. Despite the sub-zero temperature on my first day, the UX and Product teams have given me the warmest of welcomes. There was always someone who could answer my questions or pointed me to someone who could. At Target, I am surrounded by strong & intelligent people. I appreciate working alongside people who are accomplished and talented but, more notably, people who see me, hear me, and treat me as their equal.

What was the most exciting thing that happened recently?
EVERYTHING has been exciting but if I have to choose one, it’s got to be the research that I have been doing with Apparel & Accessories. On the surface, the task disguised itself as like any other research round that I have been doing for many years now. However, when I started talking to guests about the topic, I have discovered perspectives, motivations, experiences that I was not previously paying attention to. The experience was a growth opportunity and what could be more exciting than that?

What should every designer be reading right now?
Every designer should try to have a deeper understanding of how the human mind works, no matter how difficult or boring some of the reading materials might seem at first. Daniel Kahneman (a Nobel laureate) and Amos Tversky are two of my favorite cognitive psychologists because their studies on judgment and decision making & behavioral economics have a lot of practical applications, especially with user experience design work. For starters, I would recommend reading Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow.”

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I have always wanted to become a scientist. Growing up in Philippines, I used to watch a science show on television and part of the intro song goes this way: “tayo’y likas na scientist” (we are born with the curiosity of a scientist). I took that to heart. When kids around me would say they wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer, I said: “I am going to be a scientist” even when it was not cool to be one or when no one really knew what it meant. Instead of pursuing medical school after my undergrad, I left home to study abroad – that adventure led me to be a researcher at Target.

Best career advice that you’ve received?
“It is ok to be confused. It is ok to change your mind.” These were the words of my adviser in graduate school. She said this when I was not sure which career path to take for fear that I would make a mistake in my decisions and end up unhappy and feeling trapped. Her advice made me more aware that my needs and wants may change over time. Isn’t it curious when statements of “uncertainty” are the ones that actually make us feel more “certain” about the decisions we make?

Dogs or cats?
Dogs. 100%. I have a dog named Blue, a 14-year-old, Rottweiler and Blue Heeler mix. He is our part-time pillow, part-time cuddle-buddy, part-time alarm clock, pretend attack dog, and full-time eating machine.

What is your dream superpower?
I would like to be able to read minds, from afar. That would streamline communication big time. Also, that would make me the best researcher the world has ever seen.

Anything else you want to say?
If you would like to enjoy the sun, sea, and sand while learning about User Experience in Southeast Asia, join me in Manila, Philippines in May for the User Experience Philippines Conference (#UXPH2018). As the current President of the Board and one of UXPH’s founding member, I invite you to follow our journey at www.uxphilippines.com.

Get to Know Sunoh, Lead Product Designer

What is the best thing about being a UX designer?
The best thing about being a UX designer is that our jobs put us at the frontlines of problem-solving for our end-users and our contribution is known. Since my background is in fine arts, I’ve always appreciated the feeling of creating physical things. Though UX is digital and not physically tangible, its impact on bottom-line value and improving user experiences are still very measurable and the profession is finally receiving the recognition and market-demand it deserves. I think it’s a great time to be a UX designer.

What are some of the challenges of being a UX designer?
Communicating effectively and respectfully with your product team & users when there might be disagreements about the design, whether it’s an aesthetics concern, usability issue or simply a preference thing. I’ve found that it’s not only about “what’s right”, “what’s best”, “what I like”, or “what’s easiest”… in a team-culture focused company like Target, you still need to foster collaboration, transparency and shared wins.

I’ve worked in small teams, big teams, remote teams and co-located teams and every single environment poses different challenges and advantages when it comes to influencing and efficiency.
Currently, Target’s dedication to an agile development process and co-located scrum team pods is definitely my favorite but I am still working through the nuances of trying to make the product great and also keep everyone on the team happy in the process.

What is your favorite thing about working at Target?
I love the culture. There’s a lot of energy and contagious enthusiasm. Everyone seems to exhibit optimism and genuine desire to do good work. As an introvert and systematic communication style guy, I feel encouraged and challenged to focus on people, relationships and team-building over simply producing deliverables or being all-business.

What’s your greatest accomplishment in your career at Target so far?
Though I’ve only been with Target for 8 months, I’m most proud of how many different growth opportunities I’ve been able to take part in. I created visuals for Demo Day and helped a cross-functional redesign workshop for another team. Months later, I pitched a product idea that was selected to go through Techstar’s Pitch Bootcamp and eventually presented in front of a larger audience and panel. I also got to attend a PowerTalk training session in between and later this month I’ll attend a design conference in Chicago, recruiting for Target.

What was the most exciting thing that happened recently?
I visited the Upper Peninsula (Houghton, Michigan) this past weekend where they get a ton of lake effect snow. A foot of fresh snow had fallen the day before and so we were surrounded by 4-5 feet of snow in many areas. While we were driving by Lake Superior, I noticed there were huge ice slabs scattered throughout the shoreline. From a distance, it didn’t look like much but upon closer inspection, we discovered an incredible sight: rare blue ice formations across the coast line.

Apparently, ice only appears blue when it is sufficiently consolidated so that air bubbles do not interfere with the passage of light. We stopped by the road to walk onto the frozen lake and got to climb/slide around the wonderful blue ice formations. Explore the details because they might lead to huge discoveries and #optoutside.

What should every designer be following right now?
Tesla / Elon Musk. I think their forward-thinking culture should be emulated and their early-adopter mindset is pushing the envelope on what can be accomplished.
Though reading news & browsing inspiration is nice… I think designers should be eagerly and BUSILY trying out new websites, web-applications, mobile apps, services, etc. Being an early adopter is no longer a geek thing—it’s an investment into your future and one of the best ways to keep the creative juices going.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a Catholic priest, live with my mom, and make art (sculptures) on the side. My devotion to my faith, love of my mom and creative side have not diminished by any means but I think I’ve managed to find other equally awesome ways to do those things as I’ve “grown up”… (I’m getting married in June, recently purchased a house with plenty of room for my mom to visit/live in and I feel like design is a “practical application” of art!)

Best career advice that you’ve received?
I learned a very important lesson in my first internship during my junior year of college: Before I had to present some deliverables to a super high-up internal client, one of the senior designers sat me down and coached me to be direct and clear about expectations and if necessary, to refuse committing to any deliverables or timelines that were not realistic. Though the internal client was a VP and I desperately wanted to impress, I took his advice to heart and have always stuck by it—whether it’s with freelance clients, my fiancé, past bosses, or even in my current role working with various stakeholders and leaders.

I believe this was a practical application of the “always under-promise and over-deliver” advice and I’ve found it to be the key to maintaining a healthy work-life balance while building up a reputation of reliability.

Dogs or cats?
DOGS. I have a French Bulldog named Luna and she has her own Instagram with more followers than me @Luna_LaFrenchie

What is your superpower?
I think I have a unique superpower in organization/cleaning.

Get to Know Joe, Principal Product Designer

What is the best thing about being a Product Designer?
Working with the guests. I like solving problems, but the real fun is seeing the solutions at work. In the app world, that means frequent visits to the store and awkwardly approaching random guests. It’s my favorite type of research.

What is the hardest thing about being a Product Designer?
Bringing groups together to talk about tough situations and solve problems. As a designer, there is a lot of energy put into negotiating across groups.

What is your favorite thing about working at Target?
As a Minnesota native, I have always appreciated and admired Target’s presence in our community. I’m proud to work for an organization that has helped make Minnesota a great place to live and work.

What’s your greatest accomplishment in your career at Target so far?
Being a part of the team that brought the flagship and Cartwheel apps together. It was a great experience to be part of the project from initial discovery, to research, and final roll out. Merging Cartwheel and the flagship app was a huge project, but it felt great to accomplish the goal and – I might be a bit biased – but I think the experience is pretty awesome!

Who should every designer be reading/following right now?
Luke Wroblewski (@lukew) – Product Director at Google – Many designers already follow him or have seen him speak. If you don’t follow him on Twitter, do it now. I appreciate his straight-forward presentation of information.

What was the most exciting thing that happened this month?
For the past month, I’ve been working with my 7-year-old son on his Cub Scout Pinewood Derby car. This will be the 3rd car we’ve done together. Building the car with 100% participation from my little guy has been challenging (ever tried to get a 7-year-old away from his iPad?), but, I persisted, and we have had a lot of fun.
The whole process has a lot of similarities to my role as a designer: We started with his idea and sketched it on paper. The first pass was to cut out large pieces from a block of wood and then we did the refine work. Between multiple coats of paint, we tweaked the wheels to get better movement. Finally, we assembled the car and added weights to get it to exactly 5 ounces.
Up next: Testing his car on the track. Then, race day – to be continued…

What did you want to be when you grew up?
Astronaut, then pilot. I went to Space Camp when I was 10 years old and was in Civil Air Patrol in High School. Total air and space geek. Not sure what happened . . . but life brought me to design/UX.

Best career advice that you’ve received?
It was my first job out of college and I was lacking in confidence. As a result, I went to my supervisor with A LOT of questions. One day she interrupted me and said, “Only come to me with a question, if you have some solutions in mind.”
The idea of always bringing solutions – along with my questions – really stuck with me.

Dogs or cats?
Neither. I grew up with cats and dogs, but as an adult – I have no interest.

What is your superpower?
GSD – I get stuff done. Make that list and systematically check things off. Nothing better than seeing that completed project.

Anything else you want to say?
Keep it simple.

Get to know Kristiana, Principal Product Designer

What is the best thing about being a Principal Product Designer?
For me, the best thing about being a designer is tackling the big, sticky, complex problems underlying guest experiences and finding that “ah ha” moment when you realize how to make things easier and more delightful. I enjoy using diverse skills every day (visual design, information architecture, research, strategy) and working with different subject matter experts to accomplish things I never could have done alone.

What is the hardest thing about being a Principal Product Designer?
Wanting to do so many things and not having enough time. Where does the time go?

What was the most exciting thing that happened this month?
I partnered with the Internal Innovation Team (facilitators of Techstars) to develop a new curriculum for product teams to take their pitching skills to the next level. The half day workshop provided the skills needed to craft and deliver effective pitches for product ideas, from 30 seconds in an elevator to 4 minutes on a stage. It all culminated in the final Shark Tank-style pitch competition with an executive panel of judges to help the teams secure support & resources to pursue their big ideas. It was a lot of fun!

What’s your greatest accomplishment in your career at Target so far?
Spending nine months building a business case and lobbying to start a new product team for operational email. It took a lot of time and persistence to help people see the vision and commit resources, but it was worth it. We got some rock star talent on the team and they are really making a difference!

Who/What should every designer be reading/following right now?
TechCrunch and Wired are my go-to’s for design/tech news. I’m also really interested in service design, so I follow Andy Polaine, Christopher Noessel, Jeff Gothelf and the Adaptive Path crew. My favorite things to read by far are books by Brené Brown, Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant, or watching TEDtalks by awesome female entrepreneurs.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
A professional figure skater, a unicorn or a designer. My parents are both designers so I had some great inspiration. I guess I’m kind of a unicorn too?!

Best career advice that you’ve received?
Be true to yourself and focus on your strengths. Don’t spend your whole life trying to overcome all your weaknesses and be something you’re not. Find allies who can compensate for you in those areas and together you’ll make a strong team…and you’ll be happier!

Dogs or cats?
I love both! I lived with dogs growing up, but currently we have two rescue kitties at home: a black cat named Mozzie and a gray tabby named Neal.

What is your superpower/unicorn flavor?
Maybe the flavor would be rainbow? I do a lot of research and IA work, brainstorming/ideation, visual design, prototyping, and sometimes front-end code. I also have a background in marketing, so I do a lot of writing and selling ideas. My leader likes to tell me I am the queen of designing PowerPoint decks (not a compliment), but it’s mostly because I enjoy helping people become persuasive storytellers. I don’t have one specialty – I kind of dabble in a little of everything.

Anything else you want to say?
For me, UX design is a part of daily life that I can’t turn off in my brain. When I go somewhere and the signs are confusing, or there’s a bad interface that causes frustration, my first thought is always “how would I fix this?” I usually turn to my husband and express these inner thoughts, to which he rolls his eyes and says “stop working.” Honestly, when you are in the business of being a designer who solves usability problems, your work is never done!

Get to know Ryan, Lead Accessibility Consultant

What is the best thing about being an Accessibility Consultant?
Knowing that the work we do reaches literally millions of people. That’s empowering.

What is the hardest thing about being an Accessibility Consultant?
People not realizing just how easy accessibility is, so they are daunted by it. If I had a nickel for every time I had to reassure people that accessibility was easy, I’d be up to $3.85 by now.

What was the most exciting thing that happened this month?
I am working on a project to give greater in-store shopping access to people who are blind and visually impaired. The fact that I have the freedom to work on this is incredible. I appreciate the ability to be able to pursue passion projects alongside my other work.

What should every designer be reading right now?
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson (but just because it’s an amazing book, even though it has nothing to do with design or accessibility).

What’s your greatest accomplishment in your career at Target so far?
Speaking at SXSW about the importance of creating a culture of accessibility. That was amazing, and we heard from a lot of people who wanted their companies to emulate us.

What is your favorite thing about working at Target?
All the friendly people who are excited to push the envelope. Accessibility isn’t something we do. It’s who we are.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
A guitar player in a local band who got to play weekend gigs at the Silver Bullet (The Silver Bullet closed decades ago).

Best career advice that you’ve received?
Meet people where they are, but still invite them to your party.

Dogs or cats?
Cats until I can spend more time at home. Then both.

What is your superpower/unicorn flavor?
My superpower is a D10 in public speaking, and my unicorn flavor definitely contains curry.

Anything else you want to say?
People with disabilities are just people. I don’t want to be treated differently or handled with care. I just want to have the same opportunities and live the same life as everyone else.

 

Get to know Bill, Principal Product Designer

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an architect. My mom used to clean houses for a living. Much to her chagrin, I would tag along during the summer months on jobs as she cleaned rich, fancy homes. I would thumb thru her client’s copies of Southern Living to look at the architectural house plans that were printed in each issue. I took drafting classes early in high school and can still sketch a beautiful floor plan in AutoCADD. But ultimately, my interest and ability in math was my demise. So, now I craft digital plans instead.

What is the best thing about being a product UX designer?
The best thing about being a product UX designer is that there are no guardrails. We are responsible for designing and creating products. With qualitative and quantitative data at our finger tips, we are more empowered than most to discover new ways to engage with our guests. Layer on top of that the amazing design, research and engineering talent we have on our UX team, and the possibilities are endless.

What is the hardest thing about being a product UX designer?
The hardest is balancing the simple vs. the sexy. By simple, I mean the work which is no frills, straightforward experience design. And by sexy, I mean the snazzy, eye-popping work that grabs the attention of colleagues and industry experts. The simple work often leads to engaging, metric driving experiences; but it may not be the talk of social media. Designers must find the balance, which isn’t always easy. If a designer can leverage the power of simple and reach of sexy, they can create something amazing.

What’s your greatest accomplishment in your career at Target so far?
The experience that is Target.com. I was a part of the small team who “went rogue”, stowed away in a room and started building what came to be the new Target.com. The audience and attention that the site gets today makes it more gratifying and rewarding.

What is your favorite thing about working at Target?
Our potential. That sounds cliché, so hear me out. We’re an inclusive, loved brand that’s been around the block. We’re grounded in marketing excellence, creative genius and merchandising distinction (amongst others). That, in and of itself, is something most strive for. Only recently have we begun to see the impact of including technology as a foundational pillar. The potential for our brand and, more importantly, our guests is great. And I believe all of us in design can have a direct impact on that potential.

What was the most exciting thing that happened this month?
You know when you work so hard at, what seems to be, a small task in the grand scheme of things? This often leads to that “What’s the point?” feeling. I had a breakthrough last week. I realized that, by taking services and capabilities (those “small tasks”) that already exist in our digital portfolio, we could combine them in a way that solved a real guest problem. And with it, a differentiated, industry leading experience. Now the fun work begins.

Who should every designer be reading/following right now?
Dann Petty. Most of his activity is on Twitter (@DannPetty). He’s generating and delivering content in new forms and finding ways to give back to the design community in the process.

Best career advice that you’ve received?
It’s a toss-up! A former boss once told me, “We’re not here to prove we’re qualified. That’s why we were hired. We’re here to mesh our qualifications and talents together. To learn how to work collaboratively and cohesively with one another.” And one of my favorites from a colleague was, “Why can’t you?”

Dogs or cats?
I don’t know if I’ve ever heard someone say, “Ugggh, I can’t stand dogs.” Cats on the other hand? I side with the majority on this one. Dogs.

What is your superpower?
I’m great at seeing opportunities everywhere. Let me explain. Anyone can solve problems, but when you can turn that problem-solving solution in to a growth opportunity, then you have something special. Here’s an example: You attended a concert last night. When your favorite song played, you probably grabbed your phone to capture a video. The video and audio quality isn’t great, but you’ve captured the moment. How might you solve the quality problem? You could get a better camera or you could purchase and download a live recording of the same song. But you’re missing out on an opportunity. You certainly weren’t the only person to record the concert. What if you were able to stitch your video together with other’s video of the same song at the same concert? Through enhanced video and audio mixing, you could create a quality, live recording of that song. The result is content which is valuable to you and many others. I’ve been told, the way my mind thinks, is unique. A superpower, if you will.

Anything else you want to say?
The opportunity to learn, grow and connect at Target is vast because of our size and culture. If time allows, I suggest others to take advantage of this. You can learn a lot.

Get to know Julieta, Senior Product Designer

Hi there, my name is Julieta and I’m a Senior Product Designer at Target. I previously worked at American Airlines, PayPal and Make-A-Wish foundation. I was asked a few questions about my time here at Target so far. Also, apparently I don’t know how to hold a mug properly. Enjoy!

What did you want to be when you grew up?
A painter like Bob Ross.

What is the best thing about being a UX designer?
That we get paid to play with computers.

What is the hardest thing about being a UX designer?
The industry is ever-changing, so you really have to keep up on the latest programs/trends/solutions. What was an innovative tool a year ago is obsolete now. The platforms change, the devices change, and people’s behaviors change. It’s difficult but also makes it very exciting.

What is your favorite thing about working at Target?
I’m from Mexico, and some people don’t know that every Sunday we get a Target insert in the newspaper with sales and promos. Growing up, I remember my brother and I browsing the insert together and pointing at what we would like to buy some day. We don’t have Target in Mexico so Target is not only aspirational, but indeed a magical place for my family. All 100+ members of my family are very proud I’m here.

What was the most exciting thing that happened this month?
A lot of exciting things happened! I’ve presented my work to over 30 people in different areas of expertise; I’ve successfully survived my first negative zero temperature days (I come from the desert); and I’ve met some of the smartest, kindest, eloquent and inspiring people on the UX team!

Who/What should every designer be reading/following right now?
I have a love/hate relationship with design inspiration. Sometimes it is better to forget what everyone else is doing and just throw crazy futuristic ideas on the table and see how we can realistically scale it down and maybe come up with an original solution.

What’s your greatest accomplishment in your career at Target so far?
Within my first month, I was able to research, sketch, design and make a working prototype for the end to end experience for Back To College.

Best career advice that you’ve received?
Form follows function (a quote from Architect Louis Sullivan).

Dogs or cats?
I love them both! Tragically, I’m allergic to cats so I can’t have one. I do have 2 Jack Russell Terriers. They’re 10 and 8 years old but act like puppies.

What is your superpower/unicorn flavor?
I’m pretty good at staying optimistic when things don’t go as planned.

Anything else you want to say?
The Target culture is humble, laid-back and extremely diverse which is very important to me. Target guides, trains and encourages women to be in leadership positions. Target embraces and continues to surprise me with its support for a diverse and inclusive culture. Target cares about sustainability: from the recycled paper in our copiers to the compostable silverware in the cafeteria … Everything you may ever need is right here, so you really can just bring your true self to your job every day, and do the best work of your career.

Design, Delivery, and Dynamics

“Leah, what does Popular Mechanics magazine about stealth jet bombers have to do with marketing at Target?”  Read on, my friend.

Every month the Guest Insights and Marketing Business Intelligence team gets together for what we call our monthly “Summits.”  The idea came out of team member feedback, as teams were yearning for more opportunities for training and skill-building.  A few years back, we started implementing these gatherings that take place  one Friday morning of each month.

Our leadership (senior managers, directors, and vice president) have made these Friday mornings a priority on their busy schedules so it’s another great chance to not only hear updates, but just get to know them better in a relaxed environment (ps  – Fridays are always casual here at corporate, so it changes the atmosphere a bit already!)

This month, our main topic was on facilitation skills.  Not boring meeting facilitation, mind you.  We asked one of our creative research & design agencies to join us and share their knowledge on effective team gatherings including tips on design, delivery, and dynamics.

Which brings us to why I was reading the Popular Mechanics magazine above.  One of our exercises was to think of a meeting we have coming up, and write down our objective (e.g., “share new consumer research findings with our business partners.”)  We were then given various magazines and asked to find stories or compelling infographics, and then share how it could be used as inspiration to deliver our meeting objective in a creative, relevant way.  While I ended up choosing an image of something unrelated to the story on stealth jets, the hardened biker’s portrait I found was just as awesome. 🙂

A few other great tips on facilitation that I thought I’d share:

— Within the first 5 minutes, get input from the group, even if it’s as simple as asking what activities they’ve enjoyed so far during the spring weather.  It will help your participants to feel like they contributed to the meeting from the start.

— Make sure you clearly define what your team wants to get out of the time you have together.  “At the end of the day, success looks like….”  This helps to keep your group on task and away from the rabbit holes!

— Powerpoint is not always needed.  But if you do use it, every slide should provide an opportunity to share a point of view and start a conversation (not merely presenting facts.)

— Facilitate in ways that work for your personality!  “You’re not going to get up tomorrow and be Jerry Seinfeld.  But use your strengths to your advantage.  Talk about your kids as examples if it’s important to you.”

In general, Target is pretty good at providing development opportunities to learn and grow throughout your career here.  Much of it happens on-the-job, taking in your surroundings and learning from each encounter and project.  Formal courses are also provided by the marketing department (all free, of course) that you’ll take when you on-board and as desired throughout the years.  Then, there are occasions like this morning where our leaders and peers have devoted time and resources to giving us specialized (and fun!) training on some of the hard and soft skills that we need in order to be more effective in our day-to-day jobs with our partners.

And with that, I’m off to enjoy the BEAUTIFUL 70 and 80 degree weather.  Oh, how I’ve missed it!

Learn more about Target opportunities in marketing & advertising here.

From CAD to Ad

Product Design & Development delivers value to the corporation when we create products that delight our guests, and that they can’t find anywhere else. Unfortunately, the table frames that you saw in stores earlier this month were not unique in any way. They were old, tired, and frankly, weren’t delighting anyone. Furthermore, our guest had no reason to buy these at Target, because they could have gotten frames like these anywhere. As of this week, this has all changed! We just set close to 100% new table frames in the Room Essentials brand. Our new items are unique, exclusive to Target (’cause we designed them), deliver great style, great quality, and all at a tiny price point.

Now, with these items on the shelf, I want to show you some of the behind-the-scenes design process. Most interestingly, here is a complete set of 3D models I made when we were at the early stages of design.

  

I made these models almost a year ago when we were concepting new designs. This was a classic design exercise at Target – my design partner helped set the aesthetic while I defined the materials, detailed dimensions and created prototypes on our 3D printers. Over the course of the next three weeks, we played with the prototypes, collected feedback, revised the design and then sent it out for production.

Along the way, we had to overcome a few different challenges. I won’t describe them all, but to give you a look at the process, let’s follow how material for these designs evolved. First, the one on the bottom right was originally going to be aluminum. I had big plans for anodizing or applying a chemical film to register our seasonal colors. That was great, except that aluminum was tremendously expensive, and our manufacturers couldn’t efficiently execute that shape in aluminum. So, we looked to the oft-used polyvinylchloride; however, if you’ve ever seen a regular PVC frame, it looks cheap and disposable. They’re always glossy and they scratch easily. To solve this, I worked closely with our manufacturer to develop a brand new technique of finishing a PVC frame with a hard, matte surface – a technique that our manufacturer had never attempted previously.

Here we have an example of true end-to-end design where we went all the way from CAD (computer aided design) to Ad. We started with rough models, prototyped them, overcame a few production challenges and eventually set great product in the store. I know my last post (Full Circle) featured the weekly circular as well, but this highlights a very neat aspect of working in product design and development (PD&D) at Target.

Interested in a career with Target? Learn more about opportunities in engineering or product design and development

Full Circle

We made the cover! This is a big honor for our team because front cover space of the weekly ad is in such high demand.

In Product Design & Development, we start working on products almost a full year before they are scheduled to hit store shelves. (We designed the items in the above circular back in December and January of 2011/2012.) Because I’ve been in my job for about 18 months, I am now regularly seeing things my team created in stores and in ads. In fact, in just over two weeks time, everything in the picture frame section at Target will be the work of my team – nearly each of the 350+ items. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, this is because of a major overhaul on this aisle, and the finishing touches will hit stores in just a few weeks. Of course, I will be right here with pictures, showing it off and encouraging you to go out and take a look for yourself.

Our designs are finally in guest hands and in their homes; they’re coming full circle.  Seeing your product being used and enjoyed by a consumer is a constant motivator for any engineer. I think it’s true whether you’re designing airplanes or picture frames, because the joy is knowing the work, thought and effort you put into something is being appreciated by someone else. Any engineer who’s known this feeling also understands it’s a bit of an addiction. A little positive guest feedback, and you need it again and again.

We got a hit of that feeling this week when Dana at housetweaking.com sent some love our way for our new fall picture frames. It’s so exciting to see something you designed being used and enjoyed, whatever it is, and especially if someone’s kind words end up on the internet. Engineering and designing products for a retailer gives us the chance to experience that feeling regularly because we touch thousands of products and reach millions of guests every year. I admit though, it’s a bit humbling and I feel the weight of that visibility when we send products to stores. It’s almost a higher call to performance, because you know just how many people will use and experience your design – success and failure of your work are extremely public. This stands in stark contrast to other industries where you may spend a career developing a small piece of one assembly that may only be used by a handful of people (granted, the stakes can be higher in those industries – rockets, per se). The reach of your work is yet another interesting point of being an engineer at Target.

Interested in a career with Target? Learn more about opportunities in engineering or product design and development