Andi Mignolo joined Movable Ink back in 2016 as Head of Design, a role that impacted every corner of the organization. In the past three years, she has fostered a collaborative culture between the product, design, and engineering teams. Today, we’re thrilled to announce Andi’s promotion to Vice President of Product and Design.
Get to know Andi and her vision for Movable Ink in our Q&A below.
Tell us about your professional background.
My career has been pretty winding. I started out as a video game tester, did a stint as a Linux admin (go figure), moved to Japan and taught business English, stopped in Vancouver where I began working as an interaction designer, and then made the move to NYC where I continued my work as a designer in various capacities – creative direction, interface design, data viz, and product design. At some point along the way I came to the conclusion that to more fully realize the impact design can have on a business, I should probably get a business education. So I enrolled in an Executive MBA program while continuing to work full-time. It was a fantastic decision and I put that education to work on a daily basis. My interests are now squarely in the overlap between design, business, and people in terms of organizational design and new ways of working.
What attracted you to Movable Ink?
I met Vivek and Michael, the co-founders of MI, years ago in the New York start-up scene. Having been involved in a number of start-ups, I have a theory: tell me about the co-founders – their beliefs and values (the ones they embody, not just talk about) – and I’ll tell you what the org culture is like. Knowing the type of people Vivek and Michael are, I knew the culture would be pretty stellar. I also enjoy working in the B2B space and the complexities and challenges that come with enterprise software. So many rich opportunities for design! The organization valued design from the highest levels, and there was a strong belief that the design team should be unified across brand and product to deliver consistent, holistic experiences. All of this matched up with my philosophy and I was excited to join the team and see what unfolded.
In your three years as Head of Design, what are you most proud of?
There are two things that come to mind immediately.
1) I’m incredibly proud of the team that we’ve built and the design culture we’ve created. I love coming to work and collaborating with this team – there is so much heart, talent, trust, and laughter that takes us through the days and weeks.
2) I’m also proud of how the brand has evolved under the expert direction of our Executive Creative Director, Lindie Gerber.
How have your responsibilities changed since moving into your role as VP of Product and Design?
The biggest change is probably a different type of accountability. Making sure the product is aligned with the company vision and that the strategy is sound. There are also more meetings but as long as they are structured I tend not to mind. Meetings are a proxy to more insight, and I love to gather information. If you are familiar with StrengthsFinder, my top talent is Input, which means I love all kinds of information and data. I may not know immediately how it all connects, but eventually, it does.
What’s your vision for the product and design teams?
This is a fun question! I’m keenly interested in what makes a high performing team, how teams work, and what contributes to flourishing individuals and team cultures. One goal is to take what we’ve created on the design team and spread it across the EPD (engineering, product, and design) org. This involves a lot of collaboration, trust, and psychological safe space. Lee Bankewitz, SVP of Engineering, has been a great partner in this work along with the entire EPD team for their willingness and openness to step in and try new ways of working.
What aspects of Movable Ink’s technology, product development, or design-approach do you think set the company apart?
I think the level of collaboration and transparency across engineering, product, and design is quite strong, though we are always exploring ways we can make it stronger. Throw out the things that are no longer working and evolve the things that are working well. Which sounds easy in theory, but in order for this to work you need to create an environment that values honesty and a willingness to speak up when things aren’t working anymore. Technology-wise, what Movable Ink is able to do never ceases to amaze me, and is a testament to the innovation and creativity of the engineering and DevOps teams. In terms of our design approach, designers are fully baked into everything that we do, bringing a design perspective to new opportunities and product improvements. The same goes for research – from early generative research all the way to user testing – which is fundamental to how we learn and validate the things we work on.
What do you see as the biggest opportunities for the organization?
I think the biggest opportunity is in really solving the creative bottleneck. It’s something that we’re already doing, but product-wise we have a lot in store to elevate this to a new level. Marketers have a lot of sophisticated ways of talking to their audiences, but it can be a challenge to create enough content to execute on those strategies. That’s where we come into play, taking existing content, creative, data, and other assets and unlocking those at scale. It’s a huge opportunity and we’re really excited about it.
How would you describe your leadership style?
In general, I’d say my leadership style combines coaching, transformation, and vision. Pulling from my own experience in leadership positions, what I learned in business school, and my training as an Integral Coach, I think it’s important to establish a vision and embody the ways in which you are asking people to show up. I also believe in good questions. There is nothing more powerful than a well-framed question to open the door to possibility and invite people to step into their own unique leadership.
How do you mentor and elevate the people on your team?
Mentorship goes two ways so I approach all mentorship opportunities from a learning standpoint. When you think about adult development, everyone has a comfort zone, a learning zone, and a danger zone. When mentoring (and with career development, etc) I look for ways to get people to the edge of their learning zone and support them in working with the challenges at that edge. I also use the Kolb Learning Style Inventory with everyone I work with. It’s a model of the experiential learning cycle – once I know where someone’s comfort zone is in the learning cycle, it can really help facilitate transformation and growth.
What are you most excited for in the remainder of 2019?
I’m excited about where the team is headed, the ways in which we are working, and the challenges we are tackling! I’m actually answering these questions in the middle of our first company-wide hackathon and the energy is palpable. There are 20 teams with 198 people and some pretty cool projects. I share this because I’m excited for what EPD is doing, what the org is doing, and where the company as a whole is headed. It’s a really exciting time at Movable Ink!