ABOUT NEWLAB

Newlab lives at the intersection of hope and action. Our focus is on scaling new ideas and transformative technologies to solve the world’s greatest challenges. We support our community of entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists, and inventors through investment, venture building and innovation studios, which drive structured collaboration and pilot activity with industry and government partners.

 

ABOUT THE ROLE

Newlab is seeking a Product Design Director to join the Product & Programs team in Michigan to lead the execution of projects and key milestones within Studio engagements. The role will focus on connecting the dots between corporate or civic challenges and the innovative startup technologies that can be iterated, tested, and deployed to catalyze meaningful change. 

The Product Design capability at Newlab is rooted in strategic design thinking, research, emerging technology, and applied entrepreneurship. The team applies both human-centered design approaches to lead generative research through ethnographic fieldwork and interviews, and a systems-level design approach to inform strategic roadmaps and support startups in applying transformative technology to shape the future of industries and cities. Working alongside a growing Product Design team and roster of Program Managers and Directors, this role will be hands-on to plan and execute design research, synthesize findings, help to design and guide pilot and product development and enable collaboration across Studios. 

Product Design Directors at Newlab engage stakeholders throughout the entire Studio journey to design guidelines and strategies that inform client-startup partnerships and support the execution of prototyping projects and pilots within the Studios. From developing an understanding of client context, establishing a view of the current ecosystem/market, collecting and interpreting relevant data, generating insights, identifying areas of opportunity where impact and growth overlap, designing strategy, communicating the vision, and supporting teams to build and deliver new offers to market. 

Previous management of innovation or product design programs, client engagement, and startup exposure is essential. This will be important as you partner with startups, serial entrepreneurs, researchers, and advisors to create new and evolve existing technologies, products, and services.


KEY RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Lead Research, Discovery and Support Product Builds in Studios
    • Design, scope, and oversee research that surfaces insights on a Studio topic and surveys relevant emerging technology sectors, investment trends and policy developments.
    • Use insight-driven planning and research to explore concepts that address identified challenges and opportunity spaces.
    • Synthesize findings and co-create product roadmaps and development strategies for teams to carry out.
  • Oversee Product Development and Implementation
    • Work with startups, advisors and domain experts as they scope, plan and build proofs-of-concept and prototypes culminating in deployed pilots, demonstrations and case studies.
    • Shape work plans with teams in each Studio to ensure they are aligned with client/problem-owner priorities and KPIs.
    • Identify technical and development milestones, blockers and potential pivots for teams, work through challenges and communicate with client teams as appropriate.
    • Provide guidance to teams engaged in Studios by championing their work, leveraging Newlab’s network to help them make progress and recruiting additional talent and support as needed.
    • Help to scope pilot opportunities, including identifying pilot sites and partners and ensuring teams are prepared to execute pilots.
  • Engage Clients and support Business Development
    • Collaborate with Studio stakeholders  to understand their business challenges and opportunities and to help identify and prioritize opportunity areas to pursue in the Studio.
    • Run discovery workshops with clients and curated ecosystems of startups and experts.
    • Work with Newlab’s business development team to create scopes of work for Studios and workshops and support client sales pitches.
  • Management of Program Collaborators
    • Product Design Directors also identify and secure staff or external teams as needed to achieve the above goals such as product realization specialists, workshop facilitators, researchers and experts. Under their guidance, Studio teams undertake research processes and pilot sprints to deliver tangible outcomes, validated concepts and learnings. 

EXPERIENCE

  • 7+ years of experience working in a design consultancy or as part of an in-house design and innovation group 
  • Background in Industrial Design, Interaction Design or Design Research and Strategy 
  • Experience with both generative research and taking a systems-level approach to design challenges; comfort collaborating with technical teams, i.e. engineers and technologists to assess how specific technologies may create impact across an entire system
  • Direct management experience
  • Strong track record of delivering engaging and thoughtful work to clients or in-house senior leadership.
  • Experience in a client services or consultative role
  • Full spectrum project management experience with demonstrated ability to build strategies that take into account the demands of multiple stakeholders 
  • Experience overseeing product development cycles from start to finish 
  • Familiarity with Google’s business tools (docs, team drives, slides, sheets etc). Experience with Adobe Illustrator, UI/UX software such as Figma and Sketch or CAD software such as Solidworks or Rhinoceros is a plus.

SKILLS & ATTRIBUTES

  • A highly organized and detail-oriented self-starter; 
  • Excellent written and oral presentation skills; executive presence
  • Solution-oriented, systems-level thinker who is looking to apply their design and research skills to innovation and entrepreneurship.
  • Flexible approach to design across a variety of stakeholders and client partners to contribute to a fast-moving, lean organization.
  • Empathic listener who can leverage participatory design methodologies to interface with community groups and individuals including immersive fieldwork, co-design activities and workshops.
  • Adept at working both collaboratively and independently and managing cross-functional teams (across and up)
  • Able to be proactive and flourish while handling uncertainty and ambiguity 
  • Thoughtful storyteller who can create compelling narrative presentations and visualize opportunities and roadmaps. 
  • Curiosity and comfort working with frontier technologies including robotics, A.I, urban technology and energy, to solve “tough tech” challenges in fields such as mobility, manufacturing and renewable energy.

COMPENSATION & BENEFITS

  • Competitive salary
  • Newlab equity
  • Health, dental, and vision insurance
  • Generous paid time off
  • Professional development stipend