Current estimates show that the US labor market has the capacity to employ some 1,400,000 new software engineers over the next four years. As any experienced design manager knows, a 10:1 ratio between engineers and designers is the minimum required to produce usable and useful software. Therefore it’s reasonable to ask: with 1.4 million new coders coming online, how are we going to recruit the 140,000 new designers needed to partner with them? Unfortunately, the trends are not positive. Design is almost completely absent from not only the current conversation around STEM, but also the multitude of informal and online initiatives teaching people to code. And this despite the fact that design continues to be THE fundamental constraint on most technology companies.
We have a “top of the funnel” problem: high school and college students are unaware of the intellectual challenges, gratifying work, and economic rewards associated with a career in design. Therefore, it is critical for those of us who truly believe in the value and importance of design to find a way to attract an exponentially larger and broader pool of students to our field.
My intent in this talk is to create an army of design ambassadors who will proactively engage their local communities to help raise awareness of and appreciation for our profession. I will provide the tools necessary to foster conversation about the mechanics, opportunities, and economics of the design profession with aspiring designers at both the high school and college levels. My hope is that armed with this knowledge, you will be prepared to not only inspire them with your own experiences, but also show them why design is the best job in the world.
Bob Baxley is a design executive who lives and works in Silicon Valley. He most recently served as the head of product design at Pinterest where he built, led, and managed a multifaceted design team responsible for both the consumer- and business-facing elements of Pinterest.
Prior to that, Bob spent over eight years at Apple, where he served in senior leadership roles for Apple’s retail and ecommerce teams. As a director of design, Bob hired and led the creative team responsible for a broad variety of applications including the Apple Online Store, the Apple Store app, and the transactional areas of iPhoto and GarageBand.
As director of design for Yahoo! Search, Bob built and led the design team that created Yahoo! Answers and designed other search-centric properties. Bob’s career as a designer began at Claris Corporation, where he was lead UI designer for the initial releases of ClarisWorks and MacProject Pro.
The author of Making the Web Work, Bob is also a sought after public speaker, who shares his experiences and observations about a range of topics related to design, technology, innovation, and the culture of Silicon Valley.
Bob holds a BA in history and a BS in radio/television/film from the University of Texas at Austin as well as a master of liberal arts from Stanford University.
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