Meet our Data Sciences Team

EDABI team converses.

Target’s Data Sciences team employs a uniquely capable and brilliant team of engineers, data scientists and analysts. They’re responsible for creating the tools and data products that enable business partners to make sound, data-based decisions, and they help develop the technology that personalizes the guest experience—from product recommendations to relevant ad content.

The Pulse team sat down with three Data Sciences pros to find out what’s interesting and exciting about working with data at Target. Hear from Brindha, Senior Manager, Business Intelligence Engineering, Janet, Director, Data Sciences and Kristina, Principal Data Scientist on what it’s like to work on Target’s Data Sciences team.

What’s the most exciting or innovative project you’ve worked on recently? 

Janet: For the last year, we’ve been moving into computer vision, which is algorithms to understand images. Why is that important? We use it to algorithmically understand the images of our products, which in turn allows us to help guest find visually similar or complementary items as they shop. A lot of our products are very style based and since a picture is a worth a thousand words, if we understand what style a guest is interested in, we can create a far more customized, intuitive and relevant experience for them.

Brindha: Closed-loop reporting tells us about impressions and how much our ads are driving sales. We provide Marketing with the data points that help the company make sure their campaigns are planned properly, and which platforms to launch to reach the most number of guests. We help close the loop to report on campaign effectiveness to inform future campaigns. It’s pretty exciting and I can see an immediate impact on the business.

Kristina: We are working on our internal A/B testing tool. I’m giving UX feedback, taking what I do on a day-to-day basis, and turning it into a user interface. It’s almost three years in the making. We used to use a third party, and then we built our own tool which integrates with Target.com and apps. It’s exciting because when we started, we’d only use vendors for something this complex. With our own, custom-built tool we can run more tests and be more effective.          

What has surprised you most about your career with Target? 

Kristina: I’ve spent most of my career at Target, and the most surprising thing is the scope of the role, the opportunities and the different teams to support. During the first ten years, I was supporting two or three teams with different functions, never really doing the same thing twice, solving tons of different problems—and holistic problems versus an online only company. From Marketing, Merchandising to Finance, there are big financial decisions to make, and there are lots of areas where data plays an important role.

Brindha: I’m a data enthusiast, so the one thing that’s amazed me is the scale of the data that we’re working with—and it comes with an equally big responsibility. I want to build optimized products. Making sure that my team has a high-performing solution—this is part of the responsibility. We are a very fast paced retailer so we need to build high-performing optimal solutions for our business teams.

Janet: The importance of company culture and how that can fuel success. The culture of support, collaboration and team work has been a strong influence through my time at Target, and I’ve learned so much from it. While I’ve gained technical skills, I’ve also become a better team player. People really work together.

Speaking of culture, what do you enjoy most about the culture within data and technology teams at Target?

Brindha: The people are the best thing about Target. It feels very much like a family. We are very focused on our work, but we make our everyday life as fun as possible. For new projects, we always try to understand through the eyes of a guest: What do we want to see? What do we want to be served? Culture is especially important to me as a leader, and it’s so important to me at Target. We always work as a team, not in silos. We are one team at Target. That’s our mantra.

Janet: There is a real culture of curiosity and exploration so when you pair that with collaboration you have it going both ways—learning and teaching—and I think that’s really powerful. People are encouraged to explore and innovate. You’re encouraged to try stuff and to take smart risks. You’re not expected to necessarily do the same thing the same way over and over again.

Kristina: Generally, the culture is one where everyone wants to move fast. It’s a whole bunch of people interested in getting things done, but it’s not super hierarchical in terms of who responds to what—there’s always someone monitoring when you’ve got a question. It’s a lot of people who are excited about their work and what they bring to the table, and they openly share it rather than withholding. They’re driven to get the answers to the business teams faster. We’re moving fast in a good way. It’s about agility.

How does Target motivate and retain team members in your space?

Kristina: First of all, it’s just exciting work. We are invited to use creativity and build our skill set. For a lot of people, that’s important—you want to feel like you’re gaining skills rather than working repetitively. Target really does care about data and analytics as crucial to our success and believes that it’s an important investment in the company.

Janet: One big way we retain talent is the breadth of problems that team members get to work on. When a team member comes in, there are many different problems and projects to work on. After a team member has been here for a while, they can switch tracks and dig in on something else. There’s a lot of variety and opportunity to solve big problems. There are also opportunities for learning and new growth in terms of hopping onto new projects, but team members are also encouraged to learn and develop their skills.

Interested in a career in data and technology with Target? Explore opportunities at target.com/careers and apply today.

Get to know Chris, Product Designer

What was the most exciting thing that happened this month?
We recently had our huge annual all team meeting, Fall National. One of my fellow designers and I signed up to be a part of it not really knowing what our participation would entail. Turned out to be a set of 3 Minute to Win it style challenges with none other than Jonathan Van Ness guiding us through! There aren’t many companies that can bring an experience like that to you and I’m lucky to have outgoing, hilarious, and fun teammates who will sign up for something like that with me.

What should every designer be reading right now?
The best designers are passionate about helping people because, at the end of the day, that is what we are doing. We are trying to make experiences, products, buildings, UI, etc. easier to use and navigate. With that said, I would say every designer should be reading anything that gives them insight into people who are under served by society today. And more than just read or follow, talk to those people. Engage with people who are unlike yourself and try to see the world through their eyes. That will make you a better designer because it increases your empathy and ensures your product will serve everyone.

What’s your greatest accomplishment in your career at Target so far?
Meeting the goodest boy, Bullseye.

What is the best thing about being a Product Designer?
Constantly being surprised by our guest.

What is the hardest thing about being a Product Designer?
Constantly being surprised by our guest.

What is your favorite thing about working at Target?
Target is known for its beautiful design and branding, and now we are getting recognized for our innovation within digital. I love being at the intersection of these two things designing for the Target app. We are constantly pushing ourselves to think bigger and better for our guest while maintaining the high standard of the Target brand. It’s a super fun challenge and makes for an exciting environment.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I was a real showboat as a kid so I naturally wanted to be a world-famous singer/actor. As I grew up I switched gears and discovered a love for science and art but didn’t really know how to apply those skills together. In college I discovered design, which felt like the perfect marriage of the two, and instantly knew it was the field I wanted to work in.

Best career advice that you’ve received?
When I did yoga teacher training, my instructor told us that when we are teaching a class, we set the energy for everyone in the room. If we are distracted or off center, the class will feel it and in turn be distracted or off center. I find this applies to my work life as well. Taking time to center myself before a big meeting or check in with myself throughout the day helps not only me, but everyone I’m interacting with. TL;DR Self care.

Do you have a favorite patio to hang out at?
Lush in NE. And, if you stay long enough on Saturday you can catch the weekly drag show inside!

What is your favorite thing to do in Minneapolis?
Eat. I lived in New York City for about 4 years before moving back to Minneapolis (I went to school here—Go Gophs!—and my husband is from here.) and every time we came back to visit I so looked forward to eating at all my favorite spots.

Anything else you want to say?
Download the Target app! 🙂

Get to know Randi, Lead Accessibility Consultant

What should every designer be reading/following right now?
A few resources for accessibility news/topics.
WebAIM blog: https://webaim.org/blog/
Level Access Blog: https://www.levelaccess.com/blog/
Deque Systems Blog: https://www.deque.com/blog/

What’s your greatest accomplishment in your career at Target so far?
Helping to make accessibility part of the development process from start to finish. We are part of product teams now instead of being the roadblock at the end of the process.

What is the best thing about being an Accessibility Consultant?
The best thing about being an accessibility consultant is the variety. We’re always working on new things and having to come up with new accessibility solutions to make sure the cool things our designers and engineers want to build will work for all of Target’s guests. I like having to continually learn and grow.

What is your favorite thing about working at Target?
I like working with a variety of teams and digital products. I also like working at a place our guests are so loyal to, that makes it fun to give them new things to be excited about.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
A sports journalist. I’ve always been a huge sports fan and wanted to work in that industry, then realized I didn’t have the personality for it. I wouldn’t be aggressive enough in press conferences.

What is the hardest thing about being an Accessibility Consultant?
The hardest thing about being an accessibility consultant is having to defend the need for accessibility of our products, I have a hard time wrapping my head around why individuals sometimes don’t see the importance of giving equal access for all people.

What is the best career advice that you’ve received?
Find something you love and do that. Sounds simple enough but having had jobs and a career before Target that I didn’t love I realized, given the amount of time we spend at work, it’s critical to do something you get excited about.

Do you have a favorite patio to hang out at?
Pizzeria Lola – BEST PIZZA EVER! Pair it with a cold beer and a nice summer evening and it doesn’t get much better than that.

What is your favorite thing to do in Minneapolis?
Swim, bike, and run. As a triathlete, you can’t ask for much better than the beautiful lakes and trails we have here. Minneapolis is a great place to get your exercise on, then find a good patio afterword. Even in the winter our city keeps the paths around the lakes clear for runners and cyclists.

Get to know Pete, Lead Product Designer

What was the most exciting thing that happened recently?
I took some new designs to a store and had the cashiers test them for usability. It was a huge success. It was easy to use and they really liked the new designs.

What’s your greatest accomplishment in your career at Target so far?
My greatest accomplishment is that I’ve done so many different things at Target. I worked on Target’s first digital product, Cartwheel. I helped bring the weekly ad to mobile devices. I improved the online and mobile app checkout experiences. I designed software for team members to plan promotions and now I’m working on in-store technologies like the software on cash registers and self-checkout.

What is the best thing about being a Product Designer?
I love solving big problems. Working with business and technology partners to solve problems for our guests and team members is so rewarding. Whether it’s creating new experiences or improving existing ones, seeing the work pay off through measured results is always a thrill.

What is your favorite thing about working at Target?
Target’s willingness to learn and grow is pretty impressive. Target is constantly adapting to changes and learning new ways to do better work. I have the support to research and analyze problems, strategize and define options before designing and testing solutions. This allows me to create the best possible experiences for Target. Rather than being an obstacle that I have to overcome, Target offers me whatever I need to do great work.

What is the hardest thing about being a Lead Product Designer?
When working with people who haven’t worked with a user experience professional before, it takes time for them to appreciate what we do. People who aren’t software engineers never expect that they could sit down and code a great experience. However, lots of people, who aren’t digital product designers, think that they can sketch a few things on a white board to design a great experience. It takes people time to learn that great experiences don’t come from an opinion and a pen. They come from research, analysis, strategy, architecture, design and testing. They come from trial and failure, iteration, collaboration and experience. When I’ve spent time with partners who have learned the value of the work I do, it makes the work so much better and so much easier and fun to do.

Best career advice that you’ve received?
Someone recently told me to focus on learnings and outcomes. What falls in-between can be an exciting journey but it’s those two things that matter most.

What is your favorite thing to do in Minneapolis?
I’m a lover of live music. Seeing a great band in a small club is the best. Whether they’re a national act or a local group there’s always someone playing somewhere. We’ve got a lot of great places from St. Paul to Excelsior and a lot of great music from punk rock to hip-hop.

Get to know Juliano, Lead Product Designer

Hello, my name is Juliano, and I’m a Lead Product Designer at Target. I’m currently the lead product designer on Nicollet Design System. I previously founded Cympel, an adtech startup, worked at Best Buy, led a web design meetup group, and worked as a print designer.

What is the best thing about being a Product Designer?
When I was starting my career as a designer back in the 90s, I was drawn to the art and composition of an effective piece of work. Back then, my understanding of design was very skewed toward “making things pretty” and art. Well, it turns out that a designer’s job is a lot more than creating visuals. It’s also about impact and transformation.

The best thing about being a product designer is the journey of putting myself in a position to be in the shoes of the guest while working with highly talented individuals on product teams to build (hopefully) delightful and profitable products. It’s about the transformation that we submit ourselves to. Let me explain.

Working on a team with engineers, product managers, accessibility experts, researchers, designers, and writers may seem simple and straightforward, but there’s a lot of tension and orchestration that needs to occur in order for a team to achieve a successful outcome. This healthy tension and orchestration have always made me reflect and grow not only as a designer, but as a person. Being able to admit that your idea was not the best or that you were wrong (with good intentions, of course) takes courage and humility. Sometimes we take these little things for granted, but these seemingly small moments of courage yield great results. It becomes less about the outcome and more about the journey with the team.

What was the most exciting thing that happened this year?
Nicollet Design System. We launched in April and adoption is growing every single week. We have many components now in production (thanks, Registry and Adaptive).

What should every designer be reading right now?
Earlier in my career, I thought that a designer’s genius or “talent” was the utmost important component of a successful product or idea. In fact, as Khoi Vihn’s article says, this sense of genius or supertalent has been counterproductive to our industry all along. So, it wasn’t until I had to build a product for survival that I began to understand the value of engineering, business and design working in harmony.

I’m a big believer in acquiring complementary skills as a designer and while I follow/admire talented designers and developers in our field, I believe product designers (working in a product model) should be a little uncomfortable once in a while to learn skills that will help them build better teams, products and better communities. My suggestion, no matter where you’re at in your career, is to become a bit more familiar with a complementary skill.

What’s your greatest accomplishment in your career at Target so far?
I’ve had many accomplishments at Target and I’m proud of them all. Target has given me opportunities that have had a great impact in my career. And while I’m grateful for all projects and teams I’ve been a part of, I’m very proud of the nimble team we’ve built that is transforming how we build products at scale: Nicollet Design System.

What is your favorite thing about working at Target?
My favorite thing about working at Target is the people I get to work with every day. I’m surrounded by highly talented folks who teach me a great deal of things every single day. I often feel I’m the least qualified person in the room, but I learn and grow a lot.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
It’s a tough question, but initially I wanted to be a professional table tennis player. I was influenced by my father, who would intensively teach me table tennis since I was 13 years old. But, as life would have it, I ended up becoming a designer.

Growing up in Brazil, I was exposed to design very early in my life. My father owned private schools in the northern part of Brazil, and my cousin, Alex, was responsible for my dad’s entire business’ visual identity. He was very talented and highly respected in our region among many businesses, local TVs, and design firms. He gave me an opportunity to work with him for a little while and told my parents to enroll me in a local school to take design lessons. My parents followed his advice. His work and mentorship inspired me to what I am today. So, besides a tennis player, I want to be a designer when I grow up. (I’m working on it.)

What is the hardest thing about being a Product Designer?
Perfectionism and compromise.

Best career advice that you’ve received?
The best advice came from my then graphic design professor, Karen Alves. I was graduating from her class and getting my first job as a graphic designer in America. I was very nervous but this is what she said: “Juliano, you’re young and very smart. You take this job, if it doesn’t work out for any reason, you’ll leave and find another job. But, the most important thing that will happen to you is you’ll meet a lot of people in your journey. Some people will become part of your life for a long time and some won’t; some people will hurt you and some people will make you feel at ease and confident; but, what you’ll learn from them will help you grow as a designer and more importantly as a human being. You’ll have a great impact in people’s lives, and people will have great impact on your life. You’ll grow and all of these learnings and experiences are priceless.” I confess that I didn’t fully grasp what she meant and I couldn’t connect dots in the future, but as I reflect today about my life, I can certainly connect the dots in the past. I felt vulnerable to my own skills; I didn’t feel confident but I was happy to be taking the next step in my life. Every time I’m faced with a new change or challenge in life, I think of what my professor said to me. And she was right. All these years have been priceless.

Dogs or cats?
Dogs. I love dogs.

What is your superpower?
Well, this is a tough question. I don’t think I have a superpower, but I’m always looking for ways to grow. My ability to understand and contribute to how designs are built, and speed up the process of building digital products is very helpful for me as a designer.

Anything else you want to say?
The most fulfilled and effective people I know—world-famous creatives, billionaires, thought leaders, and more—look at their life’s journey as perhaps 25 percent finding themselves and 75 percent creating themselves.

Get to know Abbey, Product Design Director

What was the most exciting thing that happened yesterday/this week/this month?
Yesterday was Pitch Day! About a hundred of us piled into an auditorium to hear new Product Ideas and concept pitches (Shark Tank style) that some of our colleagues want to bring to life to better serve our guests. It’s inspiring to see products come to life that start with just one person’s idea based on trends they are seeing from our guests. These people have built a business case, lean teams and ended with gaining business buy-in to try a proof of concept. It’s just another way that Target proves you are in the driver seat in your career. Target is interested in testing diverse ideas with our guests to see what resonates with them, and they acknowledge those great ideas can come from anywhere.

Who/What should every designer be reading/following right now?
I’m really enjoying the podcast called “This is Product Management” that highlights both the business and design aspects of creating products. I love that they highlight different perspectives from people that span from large companies to three employee start-ups.

What’s your greatest accomplishment in your career at Target so far?
As a Director of Product Design that serves our guests through improving team members’ experiences, my real accomplishment is simply getting out of my team’s way. 😉 By that I mean we have extremely talented Product Designers that work cross-functionally in their Product teams. The most valuable thing I can do is make sure they get the support they need and help remove blockers that come their way.

Also, the understood need and excitement to include Product Design’s perspectives in how we create internal tools here at Target is growing quickly. It’s exciting to see the impact we are able to make and I’m proud to have been a small part of that shift in thinking that creating easy-to-use experiences is not just important for our guests, but for our team members that serve them as well.

What is the best thing about being in UX/Product Design?
At the end of the day we are problem solvers, which I love. Some days you feel like “Inspector Gadget” trying to uncover the root cause of a problem. And some days you get to really know our team members by walking a mile in their shoes… by seeing what they go through to do their work and tasks. It’s more than just about influencing the digital screens a person touches. It’s about understanding the bigger picture of what a person is going through, interacting with, and how the tools we create can best support and empower them.

What is your favorite thing about working at Target?
That if you are truly passionate about something or a problem, nothing is stopping you from playing a role in the solution. You can easily connect with people who can help make that happen. Target has something called a GTKY (Get to Know You). It’s a chance to just put 30 minutes on the calendar with someone you don’t know and want to know. It’s a great way to meet other smart people, but also to connect and learn more about the business in a way that helps us all do our work better.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
Disney Animator. #Disneynerdforlife

What is the hardest thing about being a Product Design Director?
Part of our role is being the voice and advocate for our users (in my case our team members) and making sure the digital tools we create truly serve their needs as well as delivers on the goals we set out to accomplish as a business for our guests. The hardest thing is often prioritizing what problems to solve first when your heart wants to help solve all their problems right now!

Best career advice that you’ve received?
If you want to prove to someone that you’re up for a challenge don’t just tell them what you could do if given the chance, find a way to start doing it and show them.

What is your favorite thing to do in Minneapolis?
It’s amazing how many awesome art galleries and museums we have at our finger tips. The creative community is alive and thriving here (check out Art-a-Whirl or the dozens of Art Fairs we have going on). My perfect Saturday would be a walk around Lake Calhoun with friends or family, and grabbing the best chocolate chip cookie ever created (seriously!) across the street at Rustica.

Get to know Heather, Lead Product Designer

What is the best thing about being a Product Designer?
You get to empower people, solve their problems and remove the roadblocks keeping them from unleashing the full power of their talent. The internal customers of my product are smart, dedicated and scrappy – they’re working hard to meet guest, business and vendor needs at all hours of the day. If we can help them reclaim more of their time, we know they’ll turn it into gold for our guests.

What is your favorite thing about working at Target?
There are two things – first, the supportive culture. I have a couple of persistent health issues and Target’s been a great place to thrive through them. Second, I love tackling a big, hairy problem with a group of people willing to throw down and get after it. Enterprise UX at Target gives me that.

What’s your greatest accomplishment in your career at Target so far?
We’ve had developers, product owners, VPs, interns, and marketers in customer sessions this year, which is essential for building empathy and a shared understanding of those we serve. Strong products come from strong teams and UXers are new to many enterprise (internal) teams as a formal role. It’s been wonderful to share user-centered methods and watch my partners take to them. Design happens whether a UXer is there or not – I try to give my teams the knowledge to work this way for themselves, too.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be many things – veterinarian, mountain climber, teacher, National Geographic writer, etc. Ultimately, I went to school to be a librarian (I have 2 Nancy Pearl action figures) and was interested in how libraries could connect communities to information online. That led to UX.

What is the hardest thing about being a Product Designer?
In enterprise work, we’re playing the extra long game. It’s hard not being able to solve everything immediately for our customers, especially when problems are interconnected and our customers have highly diverse needs. That said, the wins are sweeter.

Best career advice that you’ve received?
I read a fashion blog called Tom and Lorenzo. Their advice for wearing clothes with confidence is something I use to prep for presentations. It’s cheeky: “Head up, shoulders back, keep telling yourself everybody here wants to either be you or do you.” I’m not naturally comfortable in front of a crowd but this cuts through nerves and makes me giggle – and adopting a confident posture really helps!

Do you have a favorite patio to hang out at?
Yeah, mine! I’m obsessed with building pergolas. I’ve built two at my house (so far), and one has a patio beneath it. I like to invite my sister or my retired neighbor ladies over for coffee and donuts on a sunny weekend day. We get some vitamin D and watch the neighborhood go by.

Get to know Mollie, Lead Product Designer

What is your favorite thing about working at Target?
Working on a UX team this large is wonderful because you have access to so many talented, experienced people. It’s a community with a vast reservoir of knowledge where people feel safe asking for and sharing information freely. It’s also nice seeing the results of my work almost immediately. When working on the corporate side, and especially working in Enterprise UX at Target, we quickly see outcomes and have immediate access to users to explore how things can be tweaked to make them better. It’s truly iterative.

What is the best thing about being a UX/Product Designer?
Defining problems and collaborating with engineering and product folks to find solutions. When this is working right, it’s magic.

What was the most exciting thing that happened recently?
The release of an MVP. I never get tired of launches and that feeling of accomplishment. I’m newer to the project and Target, so I hadn’t been laboring as long as everyone else, but knowing how hard everyone worked to get to that point made it fun all the same.

What is the hardest thing about being a Product Designer?
It can be frustrating to hit roadblocks that are out of your control to change. Sometimes what we think is the best thing isn’t always the possible or prioritized thing. But less than ideal circumstances can be a fun challenge.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to do something with music (piano lessons started at age 6), which eventually turned into wanting to be a music therapist once I reached college. That didn’t pan out due to a persistent injury, but my career in UX/Product Design satisfies a lot of that urge to make life easier for people.

Do you have a favorite patio to hang out at?
I like sitting on my friends’ patios (preferably while they are home). Good conversation with close friends in a relatively quiet space is my happy place. As an awkward shy introvert, I’m also a fan of hanging out on my back stoop alone and just letting my mind wander.

What is your favorite thing to do in Minneapolis?
Going to a cozy jazz club and seeing local musicians. Loud rock shows are fun too, but small jazz clubs are my favorite because you get to sit (and standing is super hard) and the audience is usually listening with rapt attention so you can hear everything.

Best career advice that you’ve received?
Early in my career when I was beating myself up for not being able to answer a question immediately for a client, a mentor told me (and I’m paraphrasing), “Your doctor often doesn’t have all of the answers immediately either. But their knowledge and experience makes them the best people to research and find the answer. There probably won’t ever be a time when you have all of the answers immediately.”

Get to know Kelsey, Lead UX Researcher

What is your favorite thing about working at Target?
I have two favorite things. The first is the discount (I do A LOT of online shopping). The second is the opportunities that Target affords us. I’ve worked at Target for 5 years and have been privileged enough to hold 5 different roles crossing multiple pyramids. I’ve found my leadership at Target to be extremely supportive of me exploring and learning new areas of interest. This ability to continually learn and pursue new interests is something I’m very appreciate of.

What is the best thing about being a UX Researcher?
It sounds cheesy, but my honest answer is the potential to learn. Working on the research team, we are fortunate to get to work with a variety of subject matter experts across numerous teams in the organization that are working to improve the guest experience. In order to do our jobs effectively we need to understand how things are meant to work, how they currently work, how guests use our offerings, what they think of them, and how both our guests and internal teams envision our offerings in the future. The exposure we have to ideas and existing functionality makes every day different and full of opportunity to learn.

What is the hardest thing about being a UX Researcher?
Appropriate prioritization! Researchers are curious by nature, and desperately want to understand and be able to help get answers to outstanding questions. There are endless questions worth trying to answer to help us improve our overall experience (how do people shop for different categories, what are primary purchase considerations, how attractive are our fulfillment options, gummy worms or Swedish Fish, etc.). The last question may be more of a personal research project, but hopefully it’s apparent that the opportunity is endless when it comes to understanding our guests’ behaviors and desires better.

What’s your greatest accomplishment in your career at Target so far?
It’s a little abstract, but I’d say that it’s the amount I’ve learned in the time I’ve been here. I’ve been able to be a part of teams in Accounts Payable, Global Trade, Digital Solutions, and now UX Research. I’ve never been the foremost expert in any of these areas, but the breadth of information I’ve obtained is something I’m proud of.

What was the most exciting thing that happened recently?
Target acquiring Shipt! I can’t take any credit for this service offering getting up and running, but a huge shout out to everyone that did. I’m a massive Shipt advocate (ask anyone in my neighborhood). When you have a baby crying, a 3 year old demanding that you go outside and give her an underdog on the swing set, dinner burning in the oven, and you just realized you’re supposed to bring treats to daycare tomorrow, you need help. Enter Shipt. Un-burned Dinner: check. Treats for daycare: check. Grocery shopping done for the week: check. A ‘congratulations you made it through the day’ piece of cake for mom: check. All without leaving the house. I love Shipt a lot. Almost as much as that piece of cake.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
A principal, teacher, and an office administrator. Basically I wanted to run an entire school by myself.

Best career advice that you’ve ever heard?
Never be discouraged from applying for a role you’re interested in just because you don’t meet all of the requirements. If you are excited about the opportunity, willing to work hard and devote yourself to learning, you’re a great candidate.

What is your superpower?
Persistence in the form of stubborn? If I hear a problem, I want to solve it. No matter the size. Regardless of what it takes. For better or worse.

 

Get to know Jamie, Lead Product Designer for Enterprise Item

What is the best thing about being an Enterprise Product Designer?
Helping people. That seems so cliché, but it has never been truer for me in my career than working on the Enterprise UX team at Target. The software that my teams and I are working to improve and create are used by fellow team members all day, every day. If it’s difficult and frustrating to do your job, I want to fix it! It’s so powerful to have a purpose where my work helps to increase efficiency, team member job satisfaction, and data integrity. Item data (and those who care for it!) is at the heart of what runs our business at Target, and it’s exciting to be in a space that has so much team member, company, and guest impact.

What is your favorite thing about working at Target?
Our mission. I feel that mission on a cellular level, and it is so awesome to me that so many people show up each day and try again at helping to make that come true. Being a human is hard work, and I don’t know one person who couldn’t discover a little more joy in their everyday life.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was young I wanted to be a writer or a lawyer. I went to college for Journalism. (Hearing people’s organic wanderings through life to find their careers is so interesting, yo!) And now here I am, an Enterprise Product Designer, still on the quest of curiosity, fighting for truth and justice.

What is the hardest thing about being an Enterprise Product Designer?
The limitations of time and resources. It’s so hard to hear about team member or merchandise vendor pain points and then have to send them to the backlog because they don’t fit in with current priorities.

Anything else you want to say?
High-five!

What the UX team learned packing rice – and why you should join us next time!

On April 11, members of the UX team volunteered at Second Harvest Heartland, a food packing facility for families in need. This event was organized by UX designer Courtney. She took the initiative to get us organized and ready for our volunteer day. We proudly wore our red Target t-shirts, arrived at the facility and had a short orientation. Together we helped pack over 3,000 pounds of rice for families in need.

My name is Julieta, and I’m a UX designer for Target.com. I tried writing this article (emphasis on tried) as a chronological, inspiring journey with facts and metrics on why volunteering matters. As I was writing it, I realized how jaded I’ve become with Buzzfeed-style listicle articles that are easily digestible and easy to read, so I landed on that approach instead. Plus, as a novice writer, it makes it much more entertaining for me to write.

That being said, I do hope this inspires you and hopefully lights a fire inside you that will make you want to make time for volunteer opportunities.

HERE ARE THE TOP 5 REASONS WHY “VOLUNTEER DAY” WAS JUST WHAT OUR TEAM NEEDED:

1) Bonding time!
The UX team is pretty new. We as a team have grown in the past year, and we’re all slowly getting to know one another. Having time to connect outside of work while doing good for others is the perfect way to build connections with team members that you may not normally have conversations with. Plus, (surprisingly) it’s a pretty good way to relieve stress!

“A highlight for me was being able to spend time outside of work with my colleagues, and when we found out just how much food we were able to pack. It surprised me how much I was able to let go from my work-related obligations on a weekday. I had so much fun doing something so repetitive, I found it therapeutic.” – Jill, UX designer

2) Embracing our differences
There was a total of 40 volunteers that day, including our team from Target, teams from other companies like Wells Fargo, young students from a local high school, and senior folks who seemed to do this type of work regularly. I’ll let Todd say it more eloquently:

“Although we were presented with a placard stating we had packed 3,322 pounds of rice, like an oversized check presented to the winner of a sweepstakes, my impression was that our achievement there was much smaller, and yet more significant: people from diverse backgrounds working together toward a common good. I thought of that famous quote from Mother Teresa, ‘Love cannot remain by itself – it has no meaning. Love has to be put into action, and that action is service.’” – Todd, UX writer

3) It was work, but it was also fun
While we were packing rice, I spoke to a gentleman whose sole job was to add the expiration sticker to the rice pack. He took his job so incredibly seriously, and you could see he took pride on having the sticker straight, and on the correct place. After the first hour of practicing the motions, I became fixated on how perfectly I could seal each pack of rice. I knew these were for families in need and I wanted them to be perfect. It became fun to have little challenges in which I challenged myself to do it the fastest, and the neatest. As Kim also expressed:

“I felt like I was actually making a positive difference in someone’s life, and I couldn’t believe how easy (and fun!) it could be.” – Kim, UX designer

4) We’re so lucky
Not every company encourages their employees to take time out of their day to help out others. Target has a pyramid of volunteer hours that we as a company need to complete by the end of the year. It’s truly an amazing thing that Target allows us to do this, and for that I’m thankful! As Courtney also put it:

“What I liked about volunteering last week was getting out of our daily routine to help people who need a basic necessity such as food. It was so satisfying to learn how many meals we were able to pack and to feed people, and we did it all in less than 2 hours! It feels so good to give back directly to my community. It made me feel proud to work for Target and to be able to do that with my colleagues.” – Courtney, UX designer

5) Perspective
A few themes emerged from this whole experience: the teamwork, the fun, the greater good, but most of all, the “put your words into action” sentiment. We all care about our own causes: hunger, the environment, female rights, animal rights, you name it. But how can we take those issues that are dear to our hearts and start doing something about it? There’s no easy answer to that, and we all try our best. So with that, I’ll let Jen close the article with a quote that I think summarizes the entire day:

“For me, spending time with my colleagues at Second Harvest while we all happily packed rice together allowed me to see each of them in a very different light. While I was well aware of the depth that is inherent in each of us – volunteering translated that ‘knowing’ to ‘seeing’ and ‘remembering.’
Three hours of packing rice together might not change the world, but within those same three hours, two significant things happened: my colleagues changed the way I see the world and we nudged a plateful of food just a bit closer for someone in need. That is putting hope into action.” – Jennifer, PhD., UX researcher

To learn more about Second Harvest, visit 2harvest.org.

Speaking at DevFest 2018

Eric at DevFest

By Eric W., Lead Product Designer

I was recently invited to speak at DevFest MN 2018, [https://devfest.mn/] a Google Developer Group’s local conference intended to bring members of the engineering community together to learn and share. As a Product Designer speaking to Engineers, I was excited to represent my discipline and share some advice on how to improve the ways we work together.

Great Product Design requires great relationships, and few relationships are as important to the success of a product as the one between design and development. Both parties need to understand each other, challenge each other and compromise effectively to build the right things, at the right time with right level of quality.

Most of us however, have never been meaningfully introduced to the other’s world nor felt what it is like to walk in their shoes. So the relationship between Designers and Developers can often strain under the weight of assumptions and abstractions.

My journey toward empathy began with a simple goal of wanting to better understand the Developers I worked with every day. I wanted to be a better partner to them and communicate more effectively. So I learned to code. I didn’t do this with any intention of submitting pull requests, but simply to increase my awareness.

I watched Stanford lectures on Computer Science, listened to coding podcasts and did tutorials and coding puzzle games. As I became more immersed, something surprised me. I was struck by the sheer variety of ways I could solve any problem. Often times the goal was clear, but there were so many ways to get there.

This experience reminded me of something familiar…and then it hit me. I was using the design process. Coding was a form of creative problem solving. I was pushing code rather than pixels but just like Product Design, coding was a craft. It could even be an art form. I had far more in common with my Developers than I ever realized and I wanted to tell the world. DevFest was a great start.

Speaking at DevFest was about highlighting what we have in common and leveling up the audience’s understanding of the world of User Experience. If you peel away the jargon and tools, Designers and Developers want to make great things, and make things that matter. In a high-level but comprehensive way I built up their context by defining UX, demystifying titles like “Information Architect” and “User-Interface Designer,” describing the tools Product Designers use and the challenges we face.

I left them with a challenge:

“On Monday, when you get back to work. I want you to ask the Product Designer you work with to coffee. Ask them ‘Why did you become a Product Designer? Why do you do what you do?’ and then listen graciously to what they have to say. I think you will find you have much in common and let that be the beginning of empathy for one another. The beginning of a stronger working relationship. A relationship that leads to better products and more enjoyment in our work.”

I give you the same challenge.

Get to know Chris, Lead Accessibility Consultant

What was the most exciting thing that happened yesterday/this week/this month?
Over the last month, seeing Target’s design system come to life with a collection of reusable web components. All the components and design tools are vetted and documented for accessible use. This was the “source-of-truth” type of library we have been iterating towards for the last couple of years. It’s also fostering a design and engineering culture that thinks even more deeply about accessibility, speed, efficiency, and quality.

Who/What should every designer be reading/following right now?
Anything that helps us think beyond our own assumptions about the world around us. A couple books that have had a great impact on me: The Power of Different by Gail Salts, MD and The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabella Wilkerson.

What’s your greatest accomplishment in your career at Target so far?
Joining the Accessibility Team. Truly. I’ve been so challenged and sharpened through what I’ve been learning and leading during the last 5 years. I want to be involved in this work for a long time.

What is the best thing about being an Accessibility Consultant?
Making the topic of accessibility… accessible! Helping teams within Target understand what it means and how to fuse that level of user experience with all their other inspirations, processes, and approaches.

What is your favorite thing about working at Target?
The absolutely smart, creative, and down-to-earth people I get to work alongside. Additionally, the impact of our accessibility efforts goes far beyond Target. I believe we’re raising the universal standard of what it means to design and build accessible digital experiences.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
A Correlian smuggler turned hero of a Rebellion. Also, a Force-sensitive Jedi Master. But mostly, a truck driver like my dad.

Best career advice that you’ve received?
“I’ve found that just letting the appropriate people know what you want can open opportunities for you.”

Dogs or cats?
A couple years ago, my daughter charmed us into getting a Yorkie-Poo. It’s a kind of a super tiny dog-cat-hamster. So… both + hamster?

What is your superpower/unicorn flavor?
Superpower – I’m a wicked-awesome basement storage organizer.
Unicorn flavor – these days it contains less sugar, but more caffeine.

Get to know Shani, Sr. Frontend Designer Email

What is the best thing about being a Sr. Frontend Designer?
The opportunity to work in a field that provides opportunities to learn and try new things. I like that it merges design and coding. And even though there are many devices and different ways to digitally interact, it’s still relevant and engaging to our guests.

What is the hardest thing about being a Sr. Frontend Designer?
Helping people understand the complexity of designing emails. It can be dynamic, data driven, static or a combination of all three. There’s a lot that goes into designing, building and testing emails and educating our partners is a big part of the job.

What is your favorite thing about working at Target?
The feeling I get working with great people and the ideas they share and get excited about.

What’s your greatest accomplishment in your career at Target so far?
The big platform migration for email was a great accomplishment. It was a fantastic opportunity to define standards and processes for email development, discuss how to intelligently create reusable content and update what wasn’t working.

What was the most exciting thing that happened this month?
We recently launched a new shipping confirmation email to guests and I’m excited to see if they find it less confusing. Our goal was to simplify the experience and eliminate the number of emails we send.

Who/What should every designer be reading/following right now?
I largely get a lot of info online from many sources via Twitter which surprisingly is the best way to interact with other email designers and developers. Another resource is through various sites: Really Good Emails, Campaign Monitors Resources sections, Litmus’s community and blog. All these resources cover topics like trends, tip and tricks, dev, design, and thought leadership. This is for the beginner to experienced email geek (pro and hobby).

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a chef or an art teacher. I love the process of creating and collaborating.

Best career advice that you’ve received?
Treat people nice and don’t beat yourself up about things that don’t go right. Remember that you always have choices.

Dogs or cats?
Definitely dogs. I love their personalities and their inherent goofiness. I love the look and the idea of cats, but sadly, I am allergic to them. Me and cats are better interacting with each other at a distance.

What is your unicorn flavor?
I think it would be Taffy Rainbow Glitter Corn. I do and dabble in a little bit of everything — brainstorming/ideation, QA, troubleshooting/planning long-term fixes, strategy, visual design, and quite a bit of Frontend Development for operational email. I also love to interact and collaborate when I can, and try to keep whatever I am doing engaging and add a dash of joy.

Anything else you want to say?
It Never Hurts to Keep Looking for Sunshine – Eeyore

 

Get to know Maxine, Lead UX Designer; Axiom

What is the best thing about being a UX designer?
There are so many great aspects of this job, but my favorite has to be the perpetual challenge of creative problem solving. The more complex the variables, the more jazzed I am to dig in.

What is the hardest thing about being a UX designer?
Filtering through extraneous inputs. While specific detail and context are really critical to our outputs, determining what to prioritize can be tricky.

What was the most exciting thing that happened recently?
Axiom services TGS directly and I have regular access to these folks. Last week, I went to our Target North Campus to meet with a small group of them regarding some complex functionality. Yesterday, I was able to show them ideas I had to solve for it. Sharing work early is exciting for everyone it impacts and I got a ton of great input for continuing.

What is your favorite thing about working at Target?
The UX team is a major highlight. I’ve been doing this a long time, but I’ve never worked with a team this talented, compassionate and friendly.

Target as an entity can feel unwieldy, but in the 4+ years I’ve been here, I’m astonished to see how enterprise strategy has trickled down in to my day to day. Not only are we talking the talk, but walking the walk.

What’s your greatest accomplishment in your career at Target so far?
While I feel like I should talk about something tangible, I honestly feel like my greatest accomplishment during my time at Target has been breaking out of my shell, becoming more confident in my work and finding areas where that can shine.

What should every designer be reading right now?
I really enjoyed Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I love working in a creative field, but sometimes feel like I don’t have the passion of those around me. The way she discussed the manifestation of creativity outside of self, felt freeing. It’s just her take on one of many theories of creativity, but I found it fascinating.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I think I was one of those weird kids who didn’t have any of those ’when I’m an adult’ thoughts. Maybe I just didn’t ever want to grow up. I do remember feeling that, but I asked my mom to be sure.

She said: “You liked Peter Pan! Yes, you really did not want to grow up! When you were small you never thought about what you wanted to be because you never wanted to grow up and leave. It is not something unusual because most of us have these feelings but you just were going to make it happen! Ha.” I guess my assessment was accurate.

Best career advice that you’ve received?
In a career where phrases like putting out fires, critical mass, reinventing the wheel and decommissioning are common place, it’s easy to get caught up and stressed out.
I heard the phrase “we’re just building websites people, not saving lives” early in my career and it struck a chord.

Dogs or cats?
Dogs; a whoodle – Frankie and a soft coated wheaten terrier – Olive: both females.

What is your superpower?
Unraveling and retaining intricate problems in order to map out a solution.

Anything else you want to say?
Thank you for taking time to learn more about me. I appreciate those who have already shared their stories and look forward to reading more.

Get to know Stacia, Lead Product Designer

What is the best thing about being a lead product designer?
I love exploring the art and science of what I do, which is great for me because I’m an equal mix of creative/artsy and logical/analytical.

What is the hardest thing about being a lead product designer?
Every hour at work I go back and forth between blue sky strategic ideas and in-the-weeds design decisions. That roller coaster can be difficult to manage, but I enjoy the challenge.

What is your favorite thing about working at Target?
I truly do love Target as a brand, and how we proliferate “design for all”. Our famously clean stores, unique assortment, amazing digital experiences, and firm stance on social issues make me proud to work for Target.

What’s your greatest accomplishment in your career at Target so far?
I was part of the original team that conceived the software I’ve been designing for three years, Ivy Promo. It’s been a dream come true to build modern software from the ground up that solves some of Target’s biggest technical problems. We power all the promos for stores and online. I feel so proud walking into a store and seeing a Sale sign that I know people using Ivy Promo originated.

Who/What should every designer be reading/following right now?
I’m still obsessed with the design podcast “99% Invisible”. It’s about the built environment around us – from park benches to statues adorning the oldest Manhattan buildings. I’m also really into the Velocity channel, especially shows where old cars get rebuilt. I believe digital designers can learn a lot from 3D designers. Big lessons on usability and the history of human + environment interactions are available from so many disciplines.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I still want to be a published author when I grow up. My degree is in creative writing, and there’s a part of me that still thinks of myself as an author.

Best career advice that you’ve received?
Right before I graduated college, I had a phone interview for a copy writing position with a company in Milwaukee. The interviewer listened to me try to sound more experienced than I was, then she very kindly gave me advice on how to recognize what I’m good at and highlight what makes me unique. I thought about that conversation a lot in my early career. It helped me be more comfortable with taking risks, like switching from writing to UX.

Dogs or cats?
Cats! I hope to get one soon after five years without a kitty roomie.

What is your superpower?
A colleague recently told me that I’m the keenest observer he’s met. Quickly taking in my surroundings and minding people’s behavior comes naturally to me. My heightened observation skills allow me to make smart decisions by realizing potential issues while others are just beginning to see an opportunity.

 

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.