A day of bringing out the best in others
Step into the shoes of Senior Product Designer and passionate mentor, João Ramos, who leads projects in our Customer Acquisition Experience team.
How do you feel about…? Can you describe how…? What do you think causes…? Have you thought of…? For João Ramos, being able to ask the right questions creates an important sense of perspective. His role as a Senior Product Designer in our Customer Acquisition Experience team is all about understanding the needs of others — be that ensuring the diverse teams he collaborates with find novel ways to engage customers, or encouraging self-awareness in the designers he mentors. In fact, on his path to becoming a design manager, combining strategic oversight with leadership is a passion he’s seeking to further develop.
What does a typical day in such a people-focused role look like? We asked João to be our guide.
A day in the shoes of João Ramos
7:45 am: My daughter wakes me up every morning around this time. I make coffee and take a sip of a ginger cold brew that I left in the fridge overnight. I do 16/8 intermittent fasting, so I don’t usually eat until around noon.
8 am: My wife, who is also a Senior Product Designer, and I prepare our daughter to go to kindergarten. A lot of this time is invested in changing and feeding her. Each day is a new adventure; we need to come up with a lot of different strategies to get her motivated! I take her there by bike, before walking my dog and catching up with the news.
9 am: I open my laptop and see if there is anything urgent to address. If there is something with relatively low effort and high impact, I do it right away. Today, there are a couple of requests from Zalando Lounge and the Beauty team. They need help with their content refresh for the Customer Proposition Carousel, which you can see on the app at the top of Zalando’s home feed in the app. As the design lead of this project, I need to coordinate with a lot of different teams to regularly update their visuals and messaging. We notice that the more often we update the carousel, the higher the customer engagement becomes, so we want to keep that momentum going.
I also use the first half hour of the day to free up my calendar as much as possible. I see if any meetings can be replaced with brief written updates, or by sharing alignment decks that include a bunch of content like risks, implications, and overall awareness, so that we can all use our time more efficiently. Right now, I need to make time for my leadership training and to focus on creating a manifesto for our team.
9:30 am: I jump into an intense three-hour leadership training. I want to develop into a management role, and this is the first step of that journey. It’s important for me to give my undivided attention, so I always turn off notifications during workshops or meetings. I get to learn about different leadership styles, self-awareness, and the importance of asking the right questions.
12:30 pm: My wife and I eat the lunch we prepared yesterday and agree on who will pick up our daughter. Having a young child requires us to be very thorough with our planning! We also arrange dinner on a food sharing app and take our dog for another walk. We usually have a lot of work to do in the afternoon. Nevertheless, we are conscious not to rush our lunch break.
1:30 pm: I get back to my desk and continue synthesizing the outcomes of my team’s workshop on design principles. It’s evolving into something much bigger than I anticipated. I usually experiment with different ways of packaging the insights and synthesizing the learnings, as well as addressing questions from stakeholders. One of the things I really enjoy about my role is mapping the intentions, motivations and expectations of the diverse people I work with and finding a common language. We go the extra mile to accommodate others and to find alignment at Zalando; transparency is a big part of the culture.
2:30 pm: I have a mentoring session with a colleague from my team. Most of what I do is ask questions. I really enjoy active listening. I used to do a little bit of coaching — both as a mentor and a mentee — so I get to practice a lot of these skills during these sessions. I believe mentorship is a great way for designers to increase their self-awareness, and also to find out what tools others use to motivate themselves, to develop their career, and ultimately to feel as happy as possible at work. For really difficult challenges, I often ask the mentee to imagine that problem a couple of weeks or years from now. It’s something I personally do a lot, and it’s really useful for developing perspective.
3:00 pm: I make a few calls to align on the direction of the visuals that I’m producing for the carousel. I also manage to squeeze in a little time for writing my daily journal, a routine I’ve kept up for nearly three years. It’s great to do this during the day instead of waiting until the evening when I’m tired.
4:30 pm: I spend some time contributing to and reviewing a few pressing design documents — usually those that will be shared with a more senior audience. In this case, we provide monthly performance insights for different propositions and sponsors. I want to make sure to advocate for the visual updates I mentioned before, motivating teams to keep working with me to update their placements in the carousel.
6:00 pm: I finish up work and hop on another mentoring session with a designer, through a platform called ADPList. Folks reach out to me there mostly when they’re feeling lost or overwhelmed, or need help leveling up their career. After that, I pick up the dinner we booked earlier before meeting my wife and daughter at the park.
9:00 pm: My daughter is asleep and my wife is out with the dog. Time for a game of FIFA. Every day, I recreate the UEFA 2016 final between Portugal and France. I usually lose the match but I keep reviving that moment! I finish the day by watching a bit of Netflix and reading a book in bed. I’m currently reading Guns, Germs and Steel: The Destinies of Human Societies by Jared Diamond.