Kamdyn Moore, Lead Program Manager
Category is: Pride extravaganza! To celebrate Pride Month, we're excited to present a special series of In the Spotlight to highlight some of our LGBTQQIA+ creators and the community. Today's headliner is Kamdyn Moore, Lead Program Manager for the Design Ops team in New York. Put on your headphones, hit play, and read along!
Questions & Answers
Why are you a designer?
Technically I’m not a designer—well, I haven’t been in a long time. I’m a Lead Design Program Manager, but I’ve worked alongside designers for the past 15 😬years.
I started my career as a designer, though. I studied architecture and worked doing high-end residential and retail interiors before I quickly realized I didn’t like being the designer—I much preferred being on the operational side of design. I've always been more interested in all that good stuff that happens behind the scenes to make good design happen, like the logistics behind procuring and installing 500 doorknobs in a large scale residential building or navigating the public policy implications of transforming 42nd street from a traffic jam nightmare into an open space park/pedestrian zone.
Describe your job at Spotify without using the words "design" or "designer."
My dad always asks me “So—tell me again—what is it that you do? No, like really—what do you DO?” And I always say “I create the space for the teams I’m working with to do their best work possible within any given constraint.” Sometimes that means I’m a coach, other times that means I’m a taskmaster. I try and dig at the heart of a problem and figure out what’s needed to help move a team forward. Usually, it boils down to two things: improving communication or making processes less ambiguous.
Show us a picture of your desk, and explain why it looks how it does.
Encore branded Field Notes notebooks. I have a bad short-term memory, so I write everything down. The program I manage is called Encore, Spotify’s new approach to Design Systems, and I love our functional swag.
Legos. My 7-year-old son is often playing nearby, and his legos find themselves on my desk. I usually fiddle with them during calls.
Kleen Kanteen & Seltzer. Always need to stay hydrated
AirPods. Usually, the first 4 hours of my day are spent on calls with my counterparts in Sweden, London, and scattered around NYC. Earpods are essential to blocking out said 7-year-old playing legos behind me.
Whiteboard in the background. I write my to-do list on the whiteboard every morning.
Kitchen in the background. The basement in my house is a studio apartment rental that we converted into my office while working from home. I built and installed the kitchenette myself. If you look carefully, you can see where I messed up the tiled backsplash. It makes me crazy!
Tell us about a time you beat an intimidating design challenge.
When I was in graduate school, I was a design intern at the Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability. I was tasked with making a 300-page scientific document that detailed the devastating impacts climate change would have on New York City’s infrastructure into a 30-page public-facing booklet that would serve as both an informative report and a public policy framework.
Trying to get Adobe InDesign on a government-issued desktop PC was its own hurdle to overcome ten years ago, let alone trying to get pixelated graphs from scientific models to look somewhat decent. It all worked out in the end. The template I created allowed them to update the report for the following three years the report was issued. It was also the last time I really designed anything.
Name three non-designers you feel inspired by when designing.
William H. Whyte
The ultimate UX researcher and people watcher. Whyte meticulously observed human behavior within urban settings and described the substance of public life in some of the most objective and measurable ways. His writings and research inform the design of public open spaces, parks, and city landscapes to this day. Check out one of his best books, The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces.
Once a professional dancer who found her way to landscape architecture, Signe is probably one of the greatest New York City landscape architects of modern times. She was a professor of mine in grad school. After graduating, she took me out for a Steak Frites and gave me advice that I’ll never forget. She told me to stop worrying about a career path—"Think of it more like stepping stones on a meandering path through a park. Each stone is just part of the journey. Enjoy it."
Yes, I love her politics and her strength and her story. But it’s more how she communicates that inspires me. The clarity of her ideas, and the simplicity with which she communicates those ideas are tangible, real, accessible, and revolutionary in politics today.
What would your self-portrait look like?
My son made this portrait of our family. I’m the one with the big hair.
Any final shout-outs or things you'd like to share?
Black Lives Matter. All of them. Always.
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