Interview with Erin Strange

Design Leadership Interview at DoorDash

Hey Erin! Thanks for taking the time to chat! Please tell us what you do at DoorDash.

Hello! I lead the New Verticals design team. We’re focused on growing DoorDash beyond restaurant delivery into new areas like grocery, alcohol, pet supplies, retail, and more. DoorDash’s mission has always been to connect people to the best of their communities and our team is responsible for creating those experiences to reach local merchants in the community. It’s an incredibly exciting space that has a direct influence on the future of DoorDash and the way people shop for everyday products. We work across a variety of platforms that evolve the consumer, dasher, and merchant experiences.

You joined the team recently. What made you join DoorDash, and what are you most excited about?

I wanted to work for a company where I was an avid user of the product and I’ve been a DoorDash customer for many years. I remember using DoorDash when I lived in San Jose around 2016 and none of my friends knew about it yet! It’s been amazing to see how much the product has grown since then.

I’ve had a passion for e-commerce for the majority of my career and have been working in this space for about 15 years. Prior to DoorDash I led the Buyer Experience team at eBay and worked at design agencies with a focus on mobile shopping apps.

I’m most excited about working on a product with a mission to support and empower local economies. This is a brand new ambiguous space with so much opportunity around how we might build convenient ways to shop your neighborhood. It’s inspiring to be part of a team with such a unified mission.

How did you begin your journey into design, and what has been your experience growing your career so far?

I’ve always been a creative person, I was raised by two musicians so I grew up watching the joy of creating things you love. I originally studied Photography in college, wanting to be a music photographer, but ended up pivoting into graphic design when I took my first Photoshop class. I remember falling in love with the art of pushing pixels. In school I would spend more time editing my photos than taking them, I knew I had found a passion to explore.

I started my career in the design agency space and when the iPhone came out I transitioned into user experience design. This was such an exciting time in the design industry since app development was booming. It was a wild time since no one really knew what they were doing and everyone wanted an app! I had some great opportunities to design some of the first mobile shopping apps and loved the challenge of designing for a small screen combined with the complexity of e-commerce.

I then decided to go in-house and join eBay. This was when I made the decision to become a people manager and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made in my career. Many people don’t realize that people management is a creative job, so it was a natural transition for me. Instead of designing screens, you’re designing teams and processes. I led eBay’s Buyer Experience team and was at eBay for 7 years until recently joining DoorDash.

What are some of the most rewarding aspects of your role as a design director? What are some of the challenges?

The most rewarding part of my job is watching my team grow. Helping designers become more impactful and working with them to develop and harness their superpower is what gets me up in the morning. I love people management and I’m lucky to work with some incredible designers at DoorDash that make my job way too easy.

Secondly, our team works in a very exciting area of our product. I feel lucky that I get to help solve some of the company’s most complicated and ambiguous problems. We’re not just evolving a product, we’re evolving people’s shopping behaviours and building equity in local communities, which is such an exciting space to work in. DoorDash has created a flywheel of opportunity for communities; a platform to easily sell or buy local products, while empowering people to earn money on their terms,

I think the biggest challenge we have is how fast we’re growing! DoorDash has become incredibly successful by executing quickly. We’re focused on expanding our team to meet the needs of our product.

You’ve been managing a team for a while. How would you describe your management style and leadership philosophy in general?

If it’s not already clear, I’m a very people focused manager. My job is to empower and support my team to help them create their best work. I try to understand the “why” behind everyone’s motivations in order to better position them for career fulfillment, success and impact. Early in my career, Simon Sinek’s Ted talk, “Start with Why”, resonated with me and I often remind myself of what he refers to as the “Golden Circle” (highly recommended if you haven’t watched it).

You’re currently hiring for multiple roles on the team. What are some of the key qualities you look for in candidates?

I am hiring! Designers that stand out to me are those with a clear perspective and high level of craft, while showing a healthy dose of humility. I want to hire people who are curious, never stop learning, and have fun in the process of building experiences for our customers. Relationship building is key to collaboration, so I look for designers that are impactful partners with cross functional stakeholders. The ability to see the bigger picture of what you’re working on and use empathy and analytical thinking to solve problems.

We’re not just evolving a product, we’re evolving people’s shopping behaviors and building equity in local communities, which is such an exciting space to work in.

In addition, I always appreciate those who show a passion for their product’s mission, it makes a huge difference in how you approach your work.

What do you enjoy doing outside of the office?

My husband and I had our first child last year and when I’m not working I’m spending it with my family. We live in Seattle and try to be outside as much as possible. My new summer hobby is gardening, which I’m loving, and I’ve only killed a handful of plants :) In the winter you’ll find me snowboarding or cooking up a new recipe I found on Pinterest (if I’m not ordering DoorDash!).

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?

Oh this is tough! I used to live in the Bay Area and the best thing I’ve ever eaten was probably this cheese soufflé at a restaurant in Saratoga called The Plumed Horse, my mouth waters just thinking about it.

For delivery, it really depends on the mood! There is a local market in my neighborhood that has a deli and I probably order lunch from there 3 times a week. Super fresh sandwiches and salads and only a 15 min delivery time!

That sounds so good, Erin! Thank you for that recommendation and for taking the time to chat.

Thank you! I always love hearing how people got into design, happy to share my story.

Interested in joining DoorDash’s awesome design team? Check out these open roles on our Career Page.