Prepare to Design the Future
March 19–20, 2017: Training
March 20–22, 2017: Tutorials & Conference
San Francisco, CA

Adventures in startup land

Kaaren Hanson (Medallia), Micah Alpern (Medallia), Sara Khoury (Google), Amanda Linden (Facebook), Catherine Courage (Google)
3:35pm–4:15pm Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Technology, tools, and process
Location: California East
Level: Intermediate
Average rating: ****.
(4.33, 3 ratings)

Who is this presentation for?

  • Designers, design managers, and design leaders

Prerequisite knowledge

  • Experience working in a medium to large company

What you'll learn

  • Learn how to navigate the shift from a larger company to a startup
  • Understand how to navigate relentless short-term focus
  • Determine how to more quickly uncover your incorrect assumptions (and discover the incorrect assumptions we made)
  • Learn how to build design momentum in a rapidly shifting environment


Startup design is radically different from design at established companies. In a panel discussion facilitated by Micah Alpern (Medallia), design leaders Catherine Courage (Google), Kaaren Hanson (Medallia), Sara Khoury (bebop), and Amanda Linden (Asana) explain their experiences moving from leadership positions at large corporations such as Yahoo, Intuit, Citrix, and @WalmartLabs to roles at scrappy startups. They’ll share what surprised them (both good and bad), what they wish they’d known earlier, and key pivots they had to make and talk about how to navigate myopic short-term focus, uncover (often incorrect) assumptions, and build design momentum in a rapidly shifting environment. If you’re thinking about joining a startup, this is the session to attend.

Photo of Kaaren Hanson

Kaaren Hanson


As vice president of experience design at Medallia, Kaaren Hanson builds robust design teams and creates customer-centered collaborative environments. Kaaren is obsessed with emotion and how companies can exceed customers’ expectations. Previously, Kaaren was vice president of design at Intuit, where she drove Intuit’s transformation to become a design-driven company with dramatic improvements in the customer experience and innovation culture. While at Intuit, Kaaren was recognized with two CEO leadership awards, and her success was noted in various media such as Bloomberg Businessweek, Harvard Business Review, Creative Confidence (Kelly & Kelly), and Scaling Excellence (Sutton & Rao). Prior to Intuit, she led user experience teams at Remedy Software (a BMC company) and BigVine. Kaaren holds a BA from Clark University and a PhD from Stanford University.

Photo of Micah Alpern

Micah Alpern


Micah Alpern is director of product design at Medallia, where he leads mobile and insights. Micah believes great products start with a thesis, touch people emotionally, and are validated with data. He has built and managed teams at LinkedIn, where he built the Mobile UX team, growing mobile adoption from 3% to 43%, and was the group design manager for the Core Products team (Profile, Search, and Growth); eBay, where he was lead designer; and Yahoo, where he was design director for Yahoo Search. He was also founding director of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA). Micah is an alum of the Human Computer Interaction program at Carnegie Mellon.

Photo of Sara Khoury

Sara Khoury


Sara Khoury is director of design at Google. Previously, Sara was head of product management and design at bebop (acquired by Google); held executive experience design positions at @WalmartLabs and Bank of America, where she led research programs, design strategy, and execution of multichannel ecommerce and finance programs at scale; and led consulting firms as the executive creative director and executive director of an internet professional services business unit for Organic and as the vice president and design director for Ikonic Interactive. Sara holds a BFA in design from Pratt Institute and an MFA with a focus on interaction design from the Art Center College of Design.

Photo of Amanda Linden

Amanda Linden


Amanda Linden is a director of product design at Facebook. Previously, Amanda was the head of design at Asana, an enterprise teamwork productivity app with millions of users worldwide, where she managed product and marketing design teams and led Asana’s rebrand, and a design director within Intuit’s Small Business group, where she led a QuickBooks redesign and managed the payments, payroll, and accounting design teams. Amanda holds an MBA and a BS in visual communication from UC Davis.

Photo of Catherine Courage

Catherine Courage


Catherine Courage is vice president of ads and commerce user experience at Google. Previously, Catherine was senior vice president of customer experience at DocuSign; senior vice president of customer experience at Citrix, where she led its company-wide customer experience initiative with responsibilities covering brand, social, web, product design, information experience, and business process reinvention, all to drive adoption and loyalty among customers, partners and employees; and vice president of product design at Citrix, where she led the team responsible for delivering user interface designs, providing user experience education, driving seamless experiences across product lines, and supporting design thought leadership and execution companywide. She has been a director of Insight Enterprises Inc. since January 25, 2016, and was a founding member of the experience team at Salesforce. She has received a number of awards, including being recognized as one of 2011’s 40 under 40 and one of 2013’s Women of Influence by the Silicon Valley Business Journal. Catherine holds an MA in applied sciences from the University of Toronto.