Uniqueness is your magic

Helena Seo
Design @ DoorDash
Published in
5 min readJun 21, 2022


Image credit: social.cut

One of DoorDash’s company values that resonates with my own personal values is “Make a room at the table”. As I mentioned in my other article about my experience as an immigrant leader, it’s extremely important to me that I help build a culture where everyone can be authentically themselves and unique attributes are embraced.

Unique individuals collectively broaden our perspective, and it makes the team stronger.

This is especially important for the DoorDash Design team because we create experiences for a broad spectrum of users across our four-sided marketplace of Consumer, Merchant, Dasher, and Internal Teammates. Empathy is a key part of our efforts, and I believe it’s much easier to build empathy for our users when the team itself is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

To that end, we’ve been very intentional and purposeful about our growth, even as we literally increased our team size by 10x over the past 3 years. The culture was one of the pillars that we emphasized from day one, and DEIB was a constant theme of our team-building effort. There were countless initiatives to achieve this mission, such as overhauling every aspect of our interview process, diversifying our product illustration library, and building accessible products.

But there is one initiative that I am especially proud of, and I wanted to highlight it in this article: our “DEIB Speaker Series” which we host during our monthly Design All Hands meetings.

Each month, we invite someone from the team to share their unique life stories, experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives. Here are just a few examples of the stories we’ve featured:

  • Balancing career and life as a parent
  • How to lead as an introvert
  • What it means to make a transition from Manager back to an IC
  • Finding your identity as an immigrant living in the United States

We started the series in Feb 2021 as an experiment, but it quickly turned into a regular feature of our All Hands meeting that everyone on the team looks forward to. I find this series to be such a powerful way to embrace vulnerability, inspire each other, create a sense of belonging, and celebrate the rich culture of our team.

Here are a few experts from some of our amazing speakers:

“In my three years of working at DoorDash, I have repeatedly seen them recognize that institutions and policies impact different people specifically women in different ways. DoorDash strives towards creating an equitable work environment where I’m set up for growth and success and can also come into work knowing it’s a safe space for me to be my authentic self.

As an immigrant woman of color, I have always had a strong position at the table to speak my mind and advocate for myself while also having strong allies and female leaders to support and inspire me in my journey of being successful as a designer at work and a mother at home.”

- Ashmita Vishwanathan presenting her “Story of three generations of women”

“Being a working parent at DoorDash, I’ve felt very comfortable setting my own work-life balance. Parents (both moms and dads alike) are very visible here, and every cross-functional team graciously accommodates for the unexpected things that happen to parents with children, especially of a young age. Doing meaningful work at DoorDash gives me the full, well-rounded life I want, both as a parent and as a worker in an exciting growth business.”

- Blake Engel presenting his thoughts on “Working as a parent”

“I founded an initiative at DoorDash called /reframe, where we study antiracism through the lens of product design. It’s been great to see people engaging with, and helping to shape, this initiative over the past year. We get a mix of both allies and designers from historically excluded backgrounds who show up and engage with difficult but important topics together: Equitable hiring, biases in design practices, and more. To me, the fact that I could feel safe creating a space like this, and that others would feel empowered to show up, is a big part of what makes DoorDash’s culture inclusive. We have a bias for action, and anyone can be an owner. That’s not to say we don’t have work to do as a company (we all do!) — but acknowledging that there’s work to be done is a magical thing. Seeing people show up eager to do the work is even more magical.”

- Imani Joy Maia from her presentation on “Equity, opportunity, and experience”

“At DoorDash, I found new opportunities, thoughtful support, and true understanding throughout my time here, particularly as someone who came out and transitioned as a trans woman of color during my time here. In both the personal and professional facets of my life, DoorDash was a place that helped me feel the confidence to pursue the things that I needed in my life — to focus on the intersection of design and engineering, to be true to myself and take the step to come-out — and showed me love and support along the way, with leadership demonstrating a deeper understanding of inclusion than many.”

- Kathryn Gonzalez from her presentation “My transformative journey at DoorDash”

“DoorDash offers unique opportunities for those who desire to grow and develop their career and also pivot in their career. It has a path for managers and builders. Unique to DoorDash is that it has an obvious path for everyone and clear career expectations that build on individual talent and strength. Because of the size of our design org it offers flexibility for designers to move between the teams and find new challenges as they grow. It’s the perfect place for those who are looking long term place to stay and develop.”

- Martin Anet from his presentation “Transition from a manager to an IC”

​​I feel so proud that we’ve built a culture where individuals feel they have the empowerment and psychological safety to be able to share such personal stories, and I hope you found inspiration in the examples I shared as well. I’m always curious to hear other teams have approached similar aspects of culture building, so please feel free to comment away or reach out to me for more discussions!

And if you feel inspired enough to want to join our team, we’re hiring and waiting for you! Please check out our career page and apply.


Helena Seo is the Head of Design at DoorDash. Special thanks to Tae Kim, our amazing Content Strategy lead, for helping me with this article.

P.S. — Thanks for reading! If you found this article to be valuable, please clap! 👏👏👏



Helena Seo
Design @ DoorDash

Design leader, people manager and product strategist. Currently Head of Design at DoorDash.