The Value of Digital Design Leadership in a Changing World

Dec 1, 2022

“The nature of Design is to inherently change an organization. Design leadership and change are inextricably tied” Alison Rand, Chief Strategy Officer, Design Operations at SAP

As we become an increasingly digital world, Digital Designers become an even more valuable asset to an organization. Companies who understand that Digital Design is imperative to the success of their business will see themselves growing at a faster rate than their competitors– in both talent and overall performance. 

The Design Marketplace

We recently performed a Design Team build for a Fortune 100 client. The process involved extensive research, discussions with many talented candidates, and recalibrating with Talent Acquisition partners on designers’ compensation expectations. These are just a few key takeaways we learned from this build and other recent design acquisitions: 

  • We have seen demand for strong design talent continue to grow, often outpacing the talent pool. 
  • Innovation, creativity and insight are key attributes to building a successful design team. 
  • We see senior design leadership roles commanding above market compensation for the right experience. These leaders have a respect for the past while creating the vision for the future. 

The Challenges of Digital Design

One of the biggest challenges we’ve seen in Digital Design has been creating the best customer experience.

Since there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer, this is a very subjective ask. There are no pre-packaged solutions even within one particular organization. We suggest listening closely to stakeholders and the team. This is critical to finding successful, innovative solutions.

What it Takes for Design Leadership

What makes an exceptional Design leader? Having worked on multiple design team builds and engagements over the last several years, researching the marketplace, and understanding the value a strong design team provides, we have found some common themes:

  • Listening to stakeholders as well as other design team members
  • Thinking outside the box and having an open mind to new solutions
  • Understanding the customer’s needs now and in the future
  • Passion around innovation, evolving tools and technology
  • Having the courage to take team members new ideas to stakeholders

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David McInnis

President & Founding Partner

David has two decades of global recruitment experience and is Founding Partner of Willard Powell. Prior to founding Willard Powell, David worked with Leathwaite International, a global executive search firm. Before his employment with Leathwaite, David worked for Wachovia Securities (now Wells Fargo Securities) supporting the firm’s Investment Banking & Capital Markets Technology group. David is a graduate of Lasell College in Newton, MA, where he received a Bachelor of Science in Business Management with a concentration in Management Information Systems. David also serves as a Trustee on Lasell’s Board.