Principal Design Researcher and Strategist

Sutherland Labs

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We're looking for a principal researcher and strategist to join Sutherland Labs - San Francisco, as soon as possible. We're an unusual agency and looking for UX/EX experts who don't necessarily fit a standard mold. Sure, we need someone with strong research skills and a good work ethic, but maybe you achieved that skillset in a different sort of setting. Maybe instead of academic qualifications, you've learned from experience. We need people who see the world from all sorts of angles.

If you'd like to join a diverse group of design researchers who love variety and who take care of each other and our clients, then please look over the description below and see if we might be  a good match. Check out our website and read our blog to see if we feel like kindred spirits. We'd love to hear from you, if so.

The Role

As a principal design researcher and strategist, you’ll use design research and/or service design techniques to uncover human needs and behaviors to inform the development of smart, inspired, human-centered solutions. You will need to be able to see the big picture, working with stakeholders to understand the broader business strategy that informs the solution. You are expected to have a firm grasp of how content, brand, and design work together to create an optimal user experience, and you’re up to date with the latest methods and have experience applying them. You thrive amid different perspectives and collaborate fluidly with cross-functional teams.

Key Responsibilities

Account Management

  • Develop and manage key client accounts, from lead generation to delivery
  • Help to frame engagement strategy and proposals for clients, integrating a design thinking approach where beneficial
  • Creatively develop bids, scope projects, and help win new work
  • Be an inspiring and practical leader of design thinking and service design within and outside of our organization

Project Work

  • Confidently lead and manage multiple projects and client engagements simultaneously, and manage high profile, senior stakeholders
  • Create high-quality research deliverables at various levels of fidelity, from ideation (e.g. storyboards, early stage concepts) to insights reports, journey maps, service blueprints, process flows, and video highlights (with support from our in-house visual designers for higher fidelity deliverables)
  • Collaborate with multidisciplinary teams and support all stages of the design process, from early problem definition and design research through to implementation
  • Lead client meetings and co-creation workshops to prioritize design opportunities and develop potential solutions to be validated through further user research

Team Mentorship

  • Participate in building and evolving the research methodology, codifying and improving existing processes, and generally aiding in the growth of our research design practice’s maturity
  • Provide mentoring, and support professional development of team members
  • Advocate for the team and our work, e.g. publishing papers, attending industry events, writing blogs, being active on social media
  • Champion design thinking across our broader organization, Sutherland Global, through leading, educating and collaborating with business development colleagues 

Education and Experience

  • Typically a degree in Psychology, Anthropology, Human-Computer Interaction, Design, Service Design, or a related field is useful, with a Masters preferred; however exceptional candidates may instead have experience that serves as an equivalent
  • 6+ years of experience for a UX, Design, or Digital organization
  • A strong understanding and demonstration of user-centered and design principles, and planning, leading and managing research projects
  • Project experience facilitating with interviews, diary studies, usability testing, surveys, workshops, and/or other research methods
  • Strong business development experience, from developing new client relationships through to account management
  • Demonstrable experience of applying research within a large organization, tackling complex projects that may involve numerous simultaneous stakeholders and delivering at a solutions-driven level
  • Experience using and iterating design concepts at the ‘fuzzy front end’ of the innovation process
  • Nice to have: Prior design and/or research agency or incubator experience, or in-house innovation group.

Job Requirements

  • Eligibility to work in the US
  • Global and domestic travel will be required post-Covid 19
  • Role is located in downtown San Francisco; when appropriate, working from home is possible (currently, we are all working remotely)
  • Ability to translate research findings into design opportunities and solutions, taking into consideration different technologies and business requirements
  • Intuitively understand how to engage and communicate with senior stakeholders, creating deliverables that can be quickly absorbed and actioned, while undergoing critical scrutiny
  • Be comfortable grappling with ambiguity (and helping stakeholders with this). You will live in the gray space between nothingness and action, with the responsibility to add momentum where there wasn’t previously any movement. You need to be someone who can carve out goals as well as the plan to reach them.

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