Director of Product Design

Boston, MA /
Customer Technology – Design /
At the Customer Technology Department (CTD), our mission is to apply modern principles of research, design, and technology to make our transit system easy for all riders to use. Effective and equitable public transit is essential to the social, economic, and environmental progress of Greater Boston.
 
The MBTA Customer Technology team is working to transform how people get around the Boston area.
 
We are a team of designers, engineers, product and content specialists charged with bringing novel ideas, modern standards and a user-centered approach to technology at the T. As the MBTA works to reinvent itself, we have a rare opportunity to craft the future of transportation for Boston and communities all around Eastern Massachusetts, as well as pioneer innovations for other transit agencies around the country.
 
Do you want to improve the daily transportation experience for 4.7 million people in the Boston region? Ready for the challenge? Then read on.

 
The Customer Technology Department is looking for a Director of Product Design. This role will lead our Product Design, Research, and Content Strategy group – a functional team of craft experts who work across numerous product and program lines. This role reports to the Chief Digital Officer. 
 
As the Director of Product Design, you will be the foremost advocate for human-centered design within a department that is known for successful technological solutions. You will champion equitable and inclusive research and design practices to your peer leaders and to CTD's external partners. You will foster, spread, and operationalize design, research, and content strategy best practices that emerge from your team members. You will help build for the future by leading Design, Research, and Content hiring practices. 
 
Teams in CTD own initiatives that support both riders and MBTA operational staff. Some initiatives, such as Skate and MBTA.com, follow agile product methods to rapidly iterate and evolve maturing platforms. Other initiatives, such as Screens, have a large hardware component and operate through a combination of agile methods and linear project management models.  
 
As the Director of Product Design, you will collaborate with the Director of Product Management, the Director of Engineering, program managers, and product managers, to unpack, scope, staff, and plan initiatives, regardless of model. You will advocate for the right kind and level of staffing, help plan your teams’ work, and help set a vision for success in each project. Once projects are running, you will evaluate ongoing success, offer domain level feedback and expertise to each team, and work with other leads to unblock challenges your teams may face. 

Responsibilities:

    • To be successful in this role, you will bring experience that helps you lead and contribute in these ways: 

    • People and team management: You lead, develop, and mentor people. You seek to help your team get better at their crafts, their collaboration and stakeholder skills, and their strategic thinking capabilities. You look for opportunities for them to lead. You support your team with consistent and meaningful feedback, facilitate collaboration between your team members, and help build sustainable processes. You work with other leads to develop clear competency frameworks and you communicate those to your team. 

    • Product Design leadership: You build both design teams and strategies that are focused on improving the lives of your end users. You can own major cross-departmental decisions related to digital experience strategy, initiative prioritization, and goal setting. You know how to translate plans into action. You strive to implement best practices and consistency across all digital products and experiences your team touches. 

    • Research strategy and operations: You constantly seek to understand your users and community better. You provide direction for research teams that conduct rigorous, mixed-method investigations. You use research data to help build discussions and shape strategic decisions. You partner with other departments, harness their domain knowledge, and share learnings across teams and departments. 

    • Content Strategy and leadership: You understand how great content shapes meaningful user experiences. You provide direction towards information architecture, content strategy, and copy writing that create a simple, useful, and delightful experience. You know how to build experience design strategies that seamlessly incorporate content with research and user experience design. 

    • Relationship building: You understand that Design is a team sport. You help establish working norms between the Design team, Product Management team, and the Engineering team. You function as a senior advisor to other departments, with the ability to be a strategic thought-partner and to synthesize and communicate complex ideas. You promote your team as domain experts and work to ensure their success. 

You'll be successful if you are:

    • Equity-oriented: You are familiar with the principles of Design Justice (or similar frameworks) and advocate for equitable design practices at every level. 
    • Empathetic: You think about end users constantly and are always looking for ways to understand their lived experience. 
    • Process oriented: You help build and share working processes that bolster your team’s day to day work, giving them confidence in their problem-solving approaches. 
    • Communicative: CTD is an interdisciplinary team sitting within a large public agency. You’re able to communicate design and content strategy to internal stakeholders clearly and effectively. 
    • Systems oriented: The MBTA is a complex, 120-year-old transit agency with a huge number of moving parts. CTD needs to understand the complexities of running transit services, the business operations of the MBTA, and how riders use the system to get around Boston. You will need to understand and build bridges to the people who operate this complex system and approach problems through lenses different than your own. 

Work experience guidelines (Recommended, not required)

    • 7+ years of professional experience in user experience design, visual design, user experience research, content strategy, or a related field. 
    • 3+ years managing, mentoring, cultivating, and hiring for a design and/or content team in a product-driven organization. 
    • Experience leading a functional group within a matrixed organization. 
    • Solid understanding of accessible design principles for the web and for physical spaces. 
    • Solid understanding and experience implementing Service Design thinking and practices. 
    • Understanding of the capabilities and limitations of industry standard design tools (Sketch, Adobe CC, etc), to advocate for the right technical tools for the job. 
    • Experience using online collaboration tools (e.g. Slack, Asana, etc.). 
    • Familiarity with the MBTA transit system as a rider. 
    • Formal education in design, usability, fine art, writing, or a related field. This could be a college degree, a bootcamp, a certificate program, or something else entirely. 
This is a full-time hourly position within the Customer Technology Department at the MBTA. We work with payroll vendors that offer benefits such as pre-taxed health insurance, 401k options, and paid sick time. After at least one year on the job, there may be an opportunity to become a salaried employee with the MBTA.

It is the policy of the Commonwealth that all executive department employees shall be required to demonstrate they have received COVID-19 vaccination and maintain full COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of continuing employment.” Read the executive order and press release.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

CTD is dedicated to creating a diverse and inclusive environment—it’s essential to the work we do. In order to effectively partner with MBTA departments and do our best work for riders, our team must reflect the wide variety of people who use the MBTA’s services. We welcome people with different strengths, experiences, and backgrounds who share a passion for improving people's lives. Our team is deeply committed to diversity, inclusion, and continual learning. We strive to foster an environment where each individual is valued, feels a sense of belonging, and is welcomed to bring their best self to work.

Here at CTD, we provide equal opportunity for all employees and applicants. We recruit, hire, train, promote, compensate, and manage all personnel without regard to race, color, national origin, cultural identification or expression, socioeconomic background, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, family status, marital status, learning style, neurodiversity, genetics, disability, age, veteran status, or any other non-merit based or legally protected grounds. 

Research has shown that women and people of color are less likely to apply for roles unless they believe they meet all qualifications. We strongly encourage candidates from marginalized groups to apply, even if you don't believe you meet every one of the job qualifications listed. We’re committed to maximizing the diversity of our team and want to hear from anyone who is passionate about our efforts and interested in supporting our work for riders.