What do you do?
Currently, I lead the design team that builds products for Instacart Shoppers. We’re a team of 8 that’s passionate about making products that improve the Shopper experience and help them earn more money.
As a design manager, I help my designers do their best work by removing roadblocks. I get to meet a lot of talented designers and help build processes for our team that make them more efficient at what they do. Plus, being a manager allows me to be a multiplier in terms of how many things I can impact at scale. My output isn’t just what I create anymore, but what my team creates.
How did you get into design?
My career didn’t start out in design at all. As a kid, I was really good at math and science and I conflated what I was good at with what I liked to do, so I thought I wanted to be an oral surgeon (that’s a long story for another day!) Funnily enough, I designed flyers and websites in college but didn’t know that you could make a career out of that. After graduating, I realized that I didn’t want to go to dental & medical school (phew!) and basically found my way into a marketing internship, which led to a paid marketing gig, which led to me discovering product management, which eventually led me to design. I taught myself how to design by reading books and watching YouTube videos. The first design mocks I made were on Keynote for Mac. 😬
My path to design was non-linear and I used to have a chip on my shoulder about not studying design in school, but I’ve come to embrace how lucky I am that I found what I really love doing. Though I’ve had a lot of stops and learned a lot of things along the way, they all make me a well-rounded person and contribute to who I am today—even the organic chemistry classes I took in college. I feel privileged that I found my way to my passion and want to thank my parents for not murdering me when I told them that I wasn’t going to apply to dental & medical school. Thanks, Mom and Dad!
What makes everything worth it?
The most rewarding thing about what I do is the feeling that I can earn a living from doing what I love. That’s crazy and it makes me a ridiculously lucky person. Plus, being a designer is an opportunity to make a positive change in the world—sometimes at a massive level. There are so many meaningful problems out there in need of solving and to have the opportunity to find a solution to even just one is amazing.
What’s the greatest piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
Do what you say you’re going to do. And if you’re not going to do it, communicate that.
The badass Mia Blume recently reminded me that “Your ‘no’ is as important as your ‘yes.’ Focusing your to-do list is only possible if you recognize what you aren’t doing.”
What advice would you give to a designer just starting out?
I think self-awareness is the key to growth and success in life. No matter how talented you are, there are always questions you should reflect on: Am I solving problems that challenge me? Am I good at what I do? Am I happy? Is the work I’m doing helping me grow? What can I improve on?
You have to ask yourself those questions all the time. Self-awareness is the biggest thing I look for in candidates during interviews.
Where do you find inspiration?
In people! I work with and am surrounded by such smart, kind, and interesting people that it’s hard to not be constantly inspired by them. Another source of inspiration are Instacart Shoppers — every day, they inspire me to build better products for them.
Working on various projects at Instacart, which one was the most challenging and exciting for you?
I’ve worked on many challenging projects at Instacart as a designer. I’ve touched many parts of the Shopper app, and any project where you design for onboarding and payments can be a challenge. The most challenging and exciting project has been hiring and building the Shopper design team. It’s really rewarding to see somebody who’s full of potential work hard to unlock their talent and create value for our users. The fact that I can play a role in helping people connect the dots between what they’re passionate about and the impact they can create is a joy that I haven’t found anywhere else.
Where did you grow up and what made it special?
Before 10th grade, I lived in 6 different cities in 3 different countries. I spent 11 years of my childhood in New Delhi, India. In between, I went to kindergarten in London, went to 2nd grade in Orange County, 8th grade in Boston and 9th grade in Ann Arbor, MI before moving to Cupertino, CA in high school. Though I hated moving so much as a kid, I learned a lot from meeting different types of people and learning how to make friends quickly. I associate my childhood with India and what makes it special is the food! It’s the type of food that makes you want to close your eyes and enjoy the burst of flavor. Though Indian food in the Bay Area isn’t as good as the food you get in India, it’s the one thing that still connects me deeply to my culture.
What was the first thing you ever designed?
The first thing I remember “designing” is a drawing of a lotus flower that I made for my mom. My dad taught me how to draw the lotus and I remember drawing it over and over again until it was perfect. I remember it so vividly that I even have a tattoo of a lotus on my arm since it’s such a fond memory from my childhood.
What is something you’re most proud of in your life/career?
My path to design was non-linear. I didn’t go to design school or get a formal design education. I taught myself how to use design tools and what it meant to be a product designer. I’m constantly in awe of the people that took a chance on me but I was always surrounded by teammates that I considered experts and was very self-conscious about my path into design (hello, imposter syndrome!). I used that feeling to push myself to work harder and find ways to accelerate my learning. That chip on my shoulder has turned into something I’m really proud of—the entire journey from when I started designing to today as I help build the design team at Instacart.
Along the way, I also founded a company, raised some money and designed something that millions of people used, that was pretty rad. Recently, I got to design Steph Curry’s website and work with my brother on it. It’ll be launching soon and then I can finally stop sounding like I made it all up!
What is something that your team does differently than other design teams?
It’s not necessarily different, but we’ve made it a point to sit next to each other. All the designers belong to different pods and used to sit with their teams. Though that has its pros, most of the time everyone had their headphones on and weren’t interacting with each other. We switched it up a year ago and now all the Shopper designers sit with each other. We collaborate throughout the day, lean over and give and get ad hoc feedback all the time. It’s made us a close-knit design team and helped us get to know each other on a deeper level!
Come build with Himani.
If you’re excited about defining the future of a one trillion dollar industry, building an ad-serving network for groceries, scaling the world’s most extensive grocery catalog, perfecting a real-time on-demand logistics chain, all while simultaneously designing the future of food for millions of people, you should take a look at the available opportunities or reach out to someone from the team.