Meet Anaïs Ziae-Mohseni, Principal Product Designer at Thumbtack

Lauren Porter
Life @ Thumbtack
Published in
5 min readDec 5, 2023

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A Q&A with Lauren Porter, Thumbtack’s Head of Design

Anaïs Ziae-Mohseni (she/her), is Thumbtack’s first-ever Principal Product Designer where she currently leads the design for our home care experience. A skilled visionary, Anaïs works with fellow designers and cross-functional partners to help define Thumbtack’s product vision — to be the only app consumers need to take care of their homes.

I recently sat down with Anaïs to discuss her journey to Thumbtack, advice that she has for growing one’s career as an individual contributor, and how our virtual-first working model has allowed her to structure her day around when she can do her best design work.

Porter: You and I have been working together for a little over 2.5 years, but can you share how your career at Thumbtack began?

Anaïs: For most of my career, I’ve always worked at early-stage startups with super small design teams. In my previous role, I was the only full-time designer at the company. When I took that job, I was really excited about that challenge. However, after about a year and a half at the company, I was getting pretty lonely. I missed being with a community of designers who could push me and help develop my craft. I was talking to a friend and previous coworker who had just joined Thumbtack. The way they were talking about the design team, culture, and leadership made it clear that it was everything I was looking for.

After a few conversations with the Thumbtack team, I was sold on joining. When I first joined, I worked on improving the search and “finding a pro” experience. My scope then increased to include two customer growth teams. About a year and a half ago, I started leading design on the home care experience. Our team is focused on alleviating the stress of homeownership through personalized guidance that supports homeowners in creating a plan for the continuous maintenance of their homes.

Porter: Your role has evolved quite a bit since you joined. Tell us about what you’re currently working on.

Anaïs: I’m a Principal Product Designer and I get to work with a team of product designers, content designers, and researchers working on our home care experience. Right now, my role is really focused on bringing Thumbtack’s vision of being the only app consumers need to take care of their home to life for consumers. I work with the team (both design and cross-functional partners) making that vision a reality.

The type of work I do ranges a ton. For the last few months, I’ve been focused on defining and getting buy-in on two roadmaps. Over the last year though, I’ve spent time defining home maintenance for Thumbtack, and helping the team build the first few versions of that vision. I personally love the variety in my role, and I enjoy being able to flex different muscles. As a senior individual contributor, I spend a lot of time mentoring and working with other designers to improve their craft and work. I’ve been a manager in the past, and this was one of my favorite parts of managing a team, so I love being able to spend time on this.

Porter: Many believe that you have to take on management roles to grow in your career, but that hasn’t been the case for you. What advice do you have for people who want to grow in their careers as individual contributors?

Anaïs: There are a lot of similarities between the skills you need as a manager and as a senior individual contributor. Soft skills are immensely important for both roles, as well as your ability to mentor and coach designers.

I think the biggest difference is which space you’d prefer to invest most of your day working in — helping solve problems for the people building the product or for the people using the product.

I was a manager previously, and I always had the most energy when opportunities arose that allowed me to have a strategic impact. Once I realized that’s what excites me the most, I really focused on trying to shape my career to have as much time dedicated to that as possible. I found this to be more possible in my individual contributor roles because I could stay really close to the work as well as the cross-functional teams helping to build it. Remaining an individual contributor has allowed me to flex in and out of different stages of the product development process, have an impact at each stage, and ship designs.

The only constant for everything in life is change. You can always change your mind about what career path you want to take. Focus on what’s giving you the most energy and pursue that. Right now, I see so much opportunity to drive strategic impact as an individual contributor. I’m open to changing my mind down the road though. People tend to forget that careers are really long, so there’s no need to rush out of developing your craft if it’s something you’re enjoying.

Porter: You are making an incredible impact at Thumbtack. How has the company supported your career growth?

Anaïs: Something I’ve loved about the design team and the product organization at Thumbtack is that they believe you don’t have to be a manager to be a leader on the team. I was fortunate enough to be selected for our Emerging Leaders Development Program where I received 6 months of individual and group coaching.

At most companies, someone in an individual contributor role wouldn’t receive this level of investment, but having this level of support while transitioning to a leadership role on the home care and the design team helped build my confidence. I’m fortunate to have an extremely supportive manager and cross-functional partners. I think having people you feel comfortable going to for advice, help, or get feedback from has been so valuable for my growth.

Porter: A few years back, Thumbtack shifted to a virtual-first way of working. What’s your experience been with this new model?

Anaïs: I never really thought I would be a fan of remote work. I used to love going into an office and collaborating in person with my team. Since Thumbtack has transitioned to a virtual working model, I’ve found that I love the opportunities it provides. The flexibility allows me to structure my day around when I can do my best design work, which has been a game changer. Thumbtack does a great job of getting the teams together frequently so you don’t feel like you’re missing out on the in-person connection that’s so important for seamless collaboration.

Porter: What’s your favorite thing about working at Thumbtack?

Anaïs: Everyone says this — the people. The team is low-ego. For Design especially, this creates a space that is psychologically safe; that is exceptionally important to foster if you want people to flourish creatively. My favorite perk is the flexible time off. I find I work best when I have periods where I can work hard and go really deep on something and then take some time off to rest. The time off policy lets me prioritize how I work best.

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Interested in a career at Thumbtack? Learn more at thumbtack.com/careers.

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