where to from from here

So, I have been a design manager for about 4 years now, and I am getting tired of a few things.
I was thinking that I want to continue in management, but in a more technical, less design and subjective field…

I have a management diploma, and a bachelor in industrial design. What are my options?
Where can I go from here?



I’ve worked with designers who have transitioned more into project management and development management, china factory relations, all kinds of things. Maybe there is an opportunity at your current company to try something new? The benefit being you know the culture, the product category, and the processes, but maybe you can bring a new approach to a different area.

Product line or product category management. Requires ability to create a good business plan, which means a deep knowledge of customers and predicting trends. A familiarity with design processes helps by being able to work with the actual design staff (giving them space to do their best work) and knowing the spectrum of product development.

It depends on what “few things” you are getting tired of.

4 years should have yielded some valuable experiences by now like: seeing product shipped, working with other departments, budgeting, hiring staff, expanding your departments capability and hiring outside resources. There are also the other more unpleasant sides of design management: firing staff, legal issues, knowing the task and schedule at hand and not having the resources to do the job the way you visualize or to your standards of design quality and so on.

I suggest this…Take some time to get away from the office and put together a plan for your current company for the next five years. Write it up, and present it to the right people at the right time. See what you can get and what the company is willing to give you if you can show them what you want and how you can deliver on what you promise. Doing this will let you know how much potential your future has with your current company. If they balk, you know that you must take your ideas and plans else where.

Good luck…

Thank you all for your input.
I work at one of those monster companies that are not very keen on changes, or reacting to employees needs.
What i am getting tired of, is the 4 layers of marketing managers that give different directions on product, without talking to each other, when at the end, it is always the vp that decides on everything …maybe that is just the way it is everywhere, but i find it very difficult to work without a clear direction, when everything we do is due for yesterday.
Ahh…ranting is so therapeutic!


I like what everyone had to say. It can be intimidating, but you as a manager should stand up for what you believe in when it comes to design direction and needs. This confidence will directly reflect the morale of the design team who’s collective voice may not be as strong or respected as yours. Your enthusiasm for what you believe should shine through. I find some established older companies don’t like change either especially when certain products pay the bills. Its your responsibility to make them understand why it is important…

Good Luck

So id the issue that you want to be in something more technical, or that you want to work for a more design driven company, or that you want to better navigate the situation you are in?

If I was in your situation, and I liked my job/company/product company, I’d start having lunches with the VP as he seems to be the key stakeholder.Become an ally to him and get the marketing managers in line or out of the company all together. I’ve had to do this. It is not an easy path in the short term but it can lead to great places… and it isn’t any harder than getting a completely new job or giving up on doing design.

Yo: In small organizations, I can see having lunch with a VP. How do you do that at a big organization? Even where I work, the president seems to be out to lunch or eat at odd hours because of meetings, etc.

Jumping in here: you just have to ask the VP to lunch. Or more likely ask the admin when you can have lunch, or have 30 minutes to chat. People managers should be aware of their staff’s needs and aspirations. Just be prepared with questions and don’t waste his/her time.

When I was at Nike I frequently had lunch or coffee with different VPs, even as a just a staff designer. In my experience they were all happy to do it and I got to ask a ton of questions and better understand their thought process. What I came to realize is that they had just as many questions for me on moral, how certain initiatives were perceived, and how they could do better.

On our way to lunch once one of the directors passing by asked the VP why he always went to lunch with me. The VP’s response was “he’s the only one that ever asks.”

The old Ray Charles quote applies, “If you ask, the worst they can say is no.”

To slippyfish’s point. Ask the VP in passing if you can have lunch sometime and then follow up with his or her admin, so the admin knows the VP wants to do it.