“Are you running away from something or towards something?”


Leading a user experience practice in a large agency hasn’t been an easy feat; but as intense as it has gotten at times, it also has never felt like something I have wanted to run away from. In fact, it is quite the opposite.

The pride I feel in the accomplishments we have made at Draftfcb during my time here makes the next sentence extremely hard to type.

Dear dream job, I quit.

That’s right. You heard it here first. I am running towards something. And for once it isn’t for a new job; it’s for a new life.

So, I am hanging up my freshly donned director pants, packing up my Mad Men collectables and archiving my ever-growing sketch collection of branded experiences to move to the Big Apple in pursuit of life.

I promise details on where I am planning on spending my time in the very near future. Exciting thing to share – not yet ready for sharing.

For now — I think reflection is important, so I want to take this moment to reflect on my time at Draftfcb and a look at their future in agency UX.

The assignment I was given:

  1. Answer the Golden Question “What makes a user experience planner successful at Draftfcb?”
  2. Allocate appropriate to workload and expectations.
  3. Lead a team of UX practitioners inspired to work together to make not just splashes, but waves.
  4. Inspire the next generation; the agency worker of the future wears many hats.

The result:

A year ago, the above 4 goals felt more like epic quests. How could we effect such a large organization, so set in their ad man ways? But, in reflecting on these goals now, I can say with pride that we have checked these boxes and are ready for new and bigger ones.

  • User Experience is now a core tenet of all the work that we provide to our clients.
  • Our co-workers know what we do and know how to talk about us in broader contexts like budget planning.
  • Our UX planners are happy campers who go home on time and see their loved ones.
  • The agency, led by the strategic planning department, is cross-training and focusing on end-to-end digital knowledge growth for all employees, not just planners and “digital people”

To be honest, as much as I have helped to achieve the above — I had little to do with priming these things to get done. Some very smart people decided 2 things before my time:

  1. Rather than create a new slice of the wheel, we instead would strategically center around UX and make it tangible to all who work on our clients’ business’, cross channel.
  2. Rather than creating a new department or placing UX in more of a production-focused reporting structure, UX was placed within the Strategic Planning department, easing the idea of having us at the table early and often.

And the plan is working. I have seen a major shift in my colleagues, in the goals of project work and in the culture of this agency as a result. The fact is that you can’t attend a meeting where important things are being discussed that quality user experience is not a core tenet. And that is not to say they are always talking about involvement from someone on the UX team. Quality user experience has become a requirement and something we are all ultimately responsible for delivering.

And the use of UX planning has up-ticked as a result. We have gone from servicing 9 core clients in 2009 to 17 in 2010 and now are looking at touching almost every brand in our book in 2011.

Our headcount has grown as well, with a senior and junior planner being added since the summer — allowing me to go home on time and see my loved ones.

Why would I leave all that?

IMHO Tolstoy said it best:

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

I am young, eager and not tethered to anything but my iPhone. New York City is an epic quest and an amazing playground for someone like me.

What’s Next for Draftfcb?

The work here is not done. Not even nearly. There are things that are being left half-baked and in need of love.

With my departure there is an open seat at the UX helm primed and perfect for someone with passion, leadership, and vision. I look forward to interviewing my replacement and working with the management team at Draftfcb to achieve a transition plan that leaves my departure as a footnote, not a headline.

Think you have what it takes?

Read my job description and get more information on how to apply.