Interview with Andrew Hahn
Design Leadership Interview at DoorDash
Hey Andrew! Thanks for taking the time to chat! Please tell us what you do at DoorDash.
No problem, it’s my pleasure! I lead the Operation and Support Platform design team. We’re responsible for designing the internal tools used by DoorDash employees for various operational and support tasks, such as onboarding merchants to the DoorDash platform, identifying and resolving any problems that Consumers, Merchants, and Dashers may have, and also running A/B tests to make informed product decisions. Ultimately, our goal is to help drive even greater operational excellence at DoorDash and provide world-class support experience for our customers through innovative and human-centric tools.
You joined the team recently. What made you join DoorDash, and what are you most excited about?
Do you ever use a product and think that it’s well designed and fall in love with it immediately? That was my experience with DoorDash. Long before I got here, and as a frequent DoorDash user, I already had a lot of respect for the DoorDash design team. So it was the people that attracted me the most — I wanted to be part of that high caliber team. And indeed, my experience so far working with the team has been exceptional. Moreover, I now have an even stronger conviction in DoorDash’s mission of growing and empowering local economies. We’re continuing to scale our operations into a broader marketplace beyond restaurants, and I have no doubt that this team of smart and passionate people with customer-centricity deeply rooted into its culture will make it happen. I feel privileged and honored to be part of the journey and I’m looking forward to doing my part!
How did you begin your journey into design, and what has been your experience growing your career so far?
I have a pretty nontraditional path into design. My background is in international relations with emphasis in world trade and development. I even briefly worked at the US Department of Commerce after college until I realized that I wasn’t going to be happy going down that path. Soon after, I joined the Maps team at Apple as a researcher and was fascinated by what goes on behind the scenes of software development.
From there on, I just continued to follow my curiosity and, by way of project management and product management, I discovered and fell in love with user experience design. I love that it is problem solving at its core and am really attracted to the notion that we can help people through design and technology. I ended up getting a master’s degree in human-computer interaction and that really solidified my passion for design. I consider myself very fortunate to have found something I love doing.
What are some of the most rewarding aspects of your role as a design manager? What are some of the challenges?
The most rewarding aspect of my role as a manager is hands down seeing the growth of the designers on my team. Nothing makes me happier than seeing a designer skillfully handle challenging problems that they have previously struggled with. It’s particularly rewarding because I understand how hard they’ve worked and the obstacles they had to overcome to get there. I don’t know if I have a good answer for your second question regarding challenges. Every day of any given week, there’s always something! So perhaps the most challenging part is being comfortable with the constant change and embracing it. There’s never a dull moment.
We generally do our best work when we’re happy, and we’re happy when our work has a meaningful impact, when we feel supported, and when gently pushed to continue to grow in our career.
You’ve been managing a team for a few years. How would you describe your management style and leadership philosophy in general?
There’s a lot of information about management out there, but the one that resonates with me the most is that ‘trust’ is at the heart of every great relationship. And based on my past experience that proved to be true over and over. So I emphasize on building trust through personal connections and that builds the foundation for a high performing team.
I also think a lot about the overall happiness of my team. We generally do our best work when we’re happy, and we’re happy when our work has a meaningful impact, when we feel supported, and when gently pushed to continue to grow in our career. With all that being said, I look through the lens of impact, support, and growth when working with my team and make sure there’s a right balance in the equation.
You’re currently hiring for multiple roles on the team. What are some of the key qualities you look for in candidates?
First and foremost above hard and soft skills, I look into who they are as a person. It’s important that they value and uphold the traits that I believe are foundational to making a great designer and teammate. Such traits are integrity, compassion, gratitude, humility, growth mindset, drive, and grit, just to name a few. It’s rare that someone would check all the boxes but at least some level of awareness of those traits and aspiration to work on them is great.
Other key qualities I’m looking for specific to my team are system thinking, information architecture, and interaction design to turn broad, deep, and complex problems into simple and intuitive solutions. Storytelling is also critical to not only clearly articulate design decisions but also to rally the broader team behind a vision.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I try to be active as much as I can when not working. I recently picked up golf and it’s been a lot of fun. It’s a love-hate relationship to be honest, as I’m hitting the ground more often than hitting the ball with a club instead. But I’m committed! I’ll try to keep it up for at least another year and see how it goes.
I also love the outdoors. Living out in the midwest for the past 6 years has really shed a light on how beautiful California is with its abundance of nature and wildlife. I’m much more appreciative of that now and I like to go hiking and camping whenever possible. Do you know how many national parks California has? A total of nine! That’s more than any other state. I would love to visit all of them. My most recent trip was up to the Redwood National Park and Lassen Volcanic National Park and I had a great time. Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park are next on the list.
We can’t end without asking you a few food-related questions. What’s your favorite dish of all time, and what’s your go-to place for delivery or pickup?
My favorite dish of all time has to be the boiled fish from Chengdu Impression in Chicago. I would usually order the dish along with tiger skin peppers for delivery once a week (and sometimes twice a week!). It’s a Sichuan style boiled sole fish fillet with napa cabbage and celery in spicy sauce. It makes me sad that I can’t get it delivered to San Francisco (DoorDash, help?). If you’re ever in Chicago, I highly recommend you try it!