In our last edition, you heard Ryan Shriver’s perspective on what makes SingleStone different and how his consulting career has evolved. This week, we’re continuing our series with SingleStone’s Director of Design, Kevin Tuskey. Kevin shares how he feels SingleStone is unique and what it’s like leading the design efforts of a technology consulting firm.
Get to know Kevin Tuskey, Director of Design
Recently, design has really found its place in technology. For the most part, people understand its innate necessity. With this change, a lot of new talent is emerging, and the industry is growing. As an experienced designer – what advice do you have for newcomers?
You must be willing to embrace feedback and have humility. Whether you’ll be working in technology design, print design, whatever, you need to be okay with other people witnessing your work and telling you the things that are great about it…and the things that aren’t so great about it. Accepting that feedback with humility is very important.
Also, be prepared for the trial and error process and the fact that you’re going to make throw-away work. Work every day from a place of abundance rather than scarcity and have the confidence in yourself that you can generate many more ideas if one gets turned down.
What was your first design gig out of college, and how does it compare to your role at SingleStone?
At my first job, it was easy to slip through the cracks. You could come to work and not speak with a single person all day. Here, we have an incredibly collaborative environment of highly intelligent people. But even more than that, we have an approachability factor and a lack of formality. You don’t have to knock on an office door. Here you send someone a message on Slack or grab lunch—there’s always an opportunity to bounce ideas off of each other in a down to earth, informal way. Also, there is a true understanding and belief that technology and design go hand-in-hand.
I’ve worked at companies smaller than SingleStone and the person at the top wouldn’t have recognized me walking down the hall. Our CEO Jimmy Chou knows each of us, is approachable and is always open to having honest conversations. It’s the exact other end of the spectrum from what I first experienced.
If you could use your technology design superpowers to improve one industry, what would it be?
The healthcare industry really intrigues me. It’s an industry that touches every single person. When we build healthcare systems, there’s a possibility that thousands, maybe millions of people will be using it for a long time, so it’s important you build and design really, really good systems that consider how different humans will use them.
I’d love for us to design systems that streamline healthcare processes, are easy-to-use and simple, with integrated information so that people can make decisions informed by costs. I’d love the opportunity to leverage design to help make healthcare better, globally.
Time to humblebrag…what’s a project you’re super proud of?
My very first project at SingleStone was a DevOps dashboard for a large, Fortune 500 company. After they tried to build it internally once or twice without much luck, we partnered with them and collaborated to design and build a new, better product in just two months.
When we built it, we didn’t just build it for them, we built it as open source so that people and teams at other companies could use the dashboard too. This elevated the difficulty of the build and design but it ensured the product would be used by more people. The results were amazing! What started as a dashboard platform, blossomed into a popular open source tool used and enhanced by thousands of teams across tons of companies big and small. It’s still expanding, and other companies and individuals are downloading and building upon it today.
Large organizations like Verizon, American Airlines and Walmart use the tool and continue to iterate, build and improve. I never thought I’d see that level of corporate synergy and to have a hand in it. To see what it’s grown into is really satisfying.
What is the single best part of SingleStone?
There are many aspects of SingleStone that I admire. I’ve worked with a handful of companies in my professional life and nothing can quite match the democratic feel and employee empowerment here.
We also have so much horsepower. Engineering horsepower, analysis horsepower, and technology design horsepower. These days, I think we’re still probably one of the best kept secrets in Richmond, and I wish we could no longer say that, because I’ve never experienced the kind of sophistication our team has.
Our capabilities and potential are elevated by our level of flexibility. Each person understands what his or her focus is, but they also know when to step outside of that, especially when the project needs it. We have our core set of skills but can also bleed into other roles within the team.
As the Director of Design, what’s it like leading a team here?
The amount of work and value our design team is able to deliver to our clients, within a short amount of time is leaps and bounds of what I used to do at some of my past companies. That’s because our teams are as small as possible and the people on them are all pretty great at what they do. We set aggressive deadlines for ourselves and we always hit them. But the best part is, while we’re always motivated to make our clients really happy, we also want to impress each other with our work and efforts, which is a win-win at the end of the day.
How has your career in design evolved, do you relate to Kevin’s experience? Do you feel motivated to not only make your clients happy, but impress your teammates?
Have a question for Kevin? Feel free to send a message or share your comment below.