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Nanci Veitch, Design Program Manager

March 2021

Article

Spotify Design Team

To showcase our band members, every now and then we put a Spotifier in the limelight. Today's headliner is Nanci Veitch, Design Program Manager for Design Ops in London. Put on your headphones, hit play, and read along!

Questions & Answers

Why are you a Design Program Manager?

As a kid I was passionate about the arts — sometime in my early 20’s I realised I wasn’t resilient enough to be an actor, talented enough to be a singer and can barely hold a paintbrush. I had to find more, ahem, creative ways to get into the creative industries, program management has been the perfect fit. 

I’ve always been an organiser (read: controlling). From charity street concerts, to colour coding my felt tips and then found a further outlet for this at university; my friends and I spent more time ferociously organising student theatre productions with the overblown dedication of a curator programming a multi-million-pound season at the National Theatre, than doing our actual degrees.  

I left university bleary-eyed after 3 years of cheap wine with my average-at-best English degree tucked under my arm and blagged my way into a job with an immersive theatre company doing (literally) anything they asked me to do.

Unfortunately, this didn’t really bring home the bacon and I started looking for some work to do in the day alongside my evenings at the theatre. Through sheer luck (and a hearty pinch of saying ‘yes’ to lots and lots of opportunities), I found my way to the colourful reception desk at ustwo — a digital product agency in Shoreditch — where I drew parallels between designing digital products and designing immersive theatrical experiences, and my love of product design was born.

Describe your job at Spotify without using the words "design" or "designer."

I do a fair bit of program management, a sizable portion of team operations, a decent whack of internal community enrichment, with a generous pinch of external community growth all in support of the Wacom-wielding, experience-crafting community at Spotify. I also look after our discipline’s shop windows, the webspace where you’re reading this and our social channels! We hope it will give other Wacom wielders and joyful experience makers a sense of what it’s like to work at Spotify and want to join our community.

Show us a picture of your desk, and explain why it looks how it does.

  1. Joy-bringing print by Studio KJP

  2. Joy-bringing photobooth pic of me and my sister, Alice from literally the last time we were allowed legally outside in London.

  3. Strategically placed books, which indicate beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’m super culturally engaged and really quite smart. Special mention to Period Queen, sent to me by fellow DPM, Alyce Bargery, to help me harness my menstrual cycle to channel my power = game-changing

  4. Coffee (in a keep cup) because the only way my boyfriend can get me out of the house is by offering me coffee in a KeepCup if I go for a walk in the mornings with him.

  5. Messy wiring and storage. To keep everything clear and organised on top I have to stuff all the wires below the surface — probably a good analogy for my life.

Tell us about a time you beat an intimidating design challenge.

The creation of Spotify.Design was a pretty intimidating task. Designing a design website to host designers’ content that our design community felt fit to represent them was sometimes a lot to live up to. We were highly reliant on close collaboration with as many members of our design community as possible. We worked hard to make sure that our community felt ownership of this space and like they designed it themselves. 

Oh, and then the global pandemic happened. We found that collecting ideas and feedback asynchronously was actually more fruitful than the classical method of gathering people together to speak out loud. Perhaps because it’s easier to formulate your thoughts without the pressure of others sitting there and watching you formulate said thoughts. We found their opinions to be most impactful at the beginning and then at the end of the design phase. They sent us in the right direction, then helped apply the final polish.

If you want to read more about this project, I wrote about it here.

Name three non-designers you feel inspired by when designing.

Please, oh, please can I be forgiven if I give you four? These women may not be well-known public figures (yet!) but I believe inspiration begins in your immediate circle. They’ve taught me about straight-talking, keeping a growth mindset, remaining practical, and always leaving space to get your nails done, go for a run or even drink a substantial amount of wine when you need a break.

Gillian Davis and Heather Taylor Portmann

Throughout my career, I have repeatedly been drawn back to the life lessons taught to me by these two awesome leadership coaches. For this role at Spotify, they went so far as sending me the job posting, supporting my presentation, streamlining my CV, allaying my post-interview anxiety, celebrating the ‘call’ and waving me off at my leaving do when I moved to Sweden.

Cliona O’Sullivan and Kamdyn Moore

I’m always thinking about how these two leading Program Managers at Spotify would approach a particularly sticky problem, and try to get myself in their mindset. I know it’s a bit naff to say you’re inspired by your boss, but reporting into these two people has been a dream and instilled me with the confidence to be my authentic self and stoked my love of all things Program Management.

What would your self-portrait look like?

Any final shout-outs or things you'd like to share?

I guess my shout out would be for the ‘bossy’, or lost arts grads, or the natural organisers out there. There is a lot of joy to be had in facilitating or creating the space for amazing creativity or creatives to thrive. Oh, and Google is your friend.

And, in danger of it all getting a bit Oscars speech, my family, partner — Nick, friends, and colleagues are all amazing and I feel well lucky to have you all. 

Credits

Spotify Design Team

We're a cross-disciplinary team of people who love to create great experiences and make meaningful connections between listeners and creators.

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