Innovator, artist, protagonist, activist, Maria has pursued a vision of intelligent, elegant, people-centered design throughout her professional life. Her grasp of the pragmatic, the authentic, and the essential have kept her at the forefront of design and business for over 30 years. Under Maria’s leadership, Hot Studio, the award-winning experience design firm she founded in 1997, grew into a full-service creative agency with an impressive list of Fortune 500 clients.
In 2013, Facebook acquired the talent behind Hot Studio, where Maria worked as a Director of Product Design.
From 2015 to 2017, Maria led a global team of designers as Autodesk’s first VP of Experience Design.
Maria’s third book, Rise of the DEO: Leadership by Design, is available in several languages. She speaks at conferences all over the world. Today, Maria consults with individuals and organizations who wish to grow and expand their design practices. Maria serves on several Boards and is a Trustee at California College of the Arts.
After many years of attempts and countless explanations to business leaders, Design finally has a seat at the table. Chief Experience Officers are increasing presences at the C-Suite where “user experience” is considered in all areas of operation. Technology companies and other large corporations have realized that producing features with the “latest technology” does not substitute the need to provide customers valuable, intuitive, delightful, holistic experiences. Experience design has become the great differentiator in businesses today.
Designers and design leaders are being hired at record rates. Traditionally business-led or engineering-ed companies, have not been set up to absorb and integrate this new breed of designers and design leaders — particularly designers with newer ways of looking at old problems.
Designers bring a different and more human-focused culture that combines intuition with analytics. Our processes do not seamlessly integrate with agile methodologies. Organizations may not be organized in a way where designers are empowered to do their best work. In order for designers and design leaders to be successful in corporations, they must think of themselves as Changemakers.
My talk will discuss the roles and responsibilities of Changemakers, and I will share strategies and “lessons from the battlefield” from leaders who find themselves in this position in their organization.