We have talked a lot about how to get started in UX, but this episode dives deep into leveling up from mid-level manager to senior-level director. Adam Sadowski shares his advice on setting an early strategy to work towards as you progress in your career, how to level up along the way, and the skills you need to stand out as a potential senior-level designer. Read the article below and listen to even more great advice from Adam in the full episode!
In episode 36 of The Product Design Podcast, Seth Coelen interviews Adam Sadowski, Design Director here at UX Cabin! Adam joined our team a few months ago and has been doing fantastic work leading and mentoring the UX Cabin design team.
Adam shares what he has learned along his career path, from breaking into product design to moving up through mid-level management and then up to a senior-level role where he leads an entire design team. His advice can help you figure out what to do next to level up and set yourself on the right path for a senior-level product design leadership position. No matter where you are currently on your product design career path, there is so much to learn from this episode!
When Adam was younger, he was interested in video games and computers. He was obsessed with the web and its endless possibilities, and reflecting on it during our chat, Adam realized he had an early interest in software without even knowing it. As a young adult, he moved back to New York and was looking for a job when his Mom gave him a contact at a small company he reached out to with a cold email to see if they needed help.
Adam was hired for a Project Coordinator role, but the role quickly changed because of his exposure to software and his computer skills. He began working on information architecture, user flow, site maps, and wireframes. Adam felt really lucky to have found his calling right away in his career, with a job that was so cross-disciplinary and required a lot of collaboration and deep thinking. He enjoys that there is always something new to do and a different approach to each project.
“Your foot in the door might not be a design role. Maybe it’s marketing, engineering, or PM. Just get in the door, develop your skills, build trust with your team and see how you can wiggle laterally toward what you are passionate about.”
As Adam has worked his way from junior designer to mid-level manager and then to director level, he has collected so much experience and advice that he shares in this episode. Here are some soft skills he believes help to separate you regardless of your experience in the industry. Collecting and becoming proficient in these skills will help you level up from junior to mid-level and then up to senior-level, depending on where you are along your career path!
Moving from mid to senior-level roles can carry based on the organization that you are in and the expectations for each position in your company. Adam shared that, first and foremost, from a design perspective, your information architecture, visual design, and ability to prototype have to be at a much more advanced level. You may be specialized in one area where you are more skilled.
Once that set of skills is well established, Adam shares some key areas to consider improving to move to the next level in your career where you are involved in more collaboration and helping move a team towards the desired goal.
“You have to take control of your own path and be proactive and strategic about it. You are actually a lot more in control than you think. Learn from the best, try things, experiment, think about how to get where you want to be, and work yourself backwards.”
It was fun chatting with Adam about leveling up to a leadership role in our industry. His advice was on point and practical regardless of your current position. It can help speed up your career path to a senior-level manager! Thank you so much, Adam, for sharing your tips and tricks and for all the fantastic work you have done since joining our team!
Listen to the complete episode on The Product Design Podcast, which includes a look into how Adam set himself apart when he applied for the Design Director role at UX Cabin, and his strategy for changing your career trajectory early on! Don't forget to follow Adam on LinkedIn and Twitter!