Ashley McCarthy RGD, Senior Graphic Designer at Semtech Corporation, shares insights on being a design lead in an in-house team.
What do you see as the advantages of being the creative lead in an in-house team? What leadership can you offer the rest of the organization?
I think the two most important aspects to being successful in an in-house environment is communication and education. In-house designers often find themselves working with people who have no design or agency background at all, and while that might seem daunting at first, taking the time to communicate and educate your team on best practices or process is always appreciated, and that's the advantage. Everyone wants to do their best work so they will look to you to provide leadership in that respect. You have the knowledge and are the best problem solver on the team.
Can you share any information on a project you're currently working on?
Currently, we're in the midst of implementing a DAM (Digital Asset Management) system for the marketing team. I'm excited about this project because it's going to streamline the request process, make our workflow more efficient, and keep our daily lives organized. Organization is key!
How do you keep communications fresh and inspired while working within corporate standards?
In-house designers have a desire to push the creative envelope as much as we can while still maintaining the integrity of the brand, but trying new things can be challenging in some environments. As long as your concepts are strong and you are able to articulate your vision to your manager or the key decision makers, that's where communication and education becomes one of the most important aspects of the job. You will either be successful in convincing them or work to develop a compromise.
What changes for in-house creatives have you noticed in the past few years? What do you think is the up-and-coming trend?
I'm noticing more marketing departments are looking to video/animation to elevate the content in their social media channels. In-house designers often have to wear a lot of hats so knowing how to use a program like After Effects comes in handy.
What do you see as the greatest challenge for creative leaders?
My very first in-house design job taught me the importance of understanding the needs of my client and the brand, and putting those needs above my own. However, working within the established bureaucracies of a corporate environment can be challenging. Hearing the phrase, "that's how we've always done it" is challenging. Not being provided a thorough breakdown of the project strategy is also challenging but that's not to say that any of this can't be overcome. As I mentioned above, designers are the best at problem solving. The project journey might not always be a linear process but being skilled in diplomacy will help you achieve your goals.
What advice do you have for emerging in-house creative leaders?
Know the strengths of your team and nurture those strengths. When deadlines are tight and you need to delegate work, it becomes extremely strategic to take advantage of your team's top skills to achieve the best results. Also, know when to pick your battles. Not every project you work on is going to be award-winning.
Semtech is a leading supplier of high performance analog and mixed-signal semiconductors and advanced algorithms. Semtech's technology platforms enable today's innovative electronics in three of the industry's fastest growing markets: Smarter Planet, Higher Bandwidth and Greater Mobility.