Academy Xi Blog

5 Ways to Become a Leader in Design

By Academy Xi

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What most excites Homaxi Irani about design is the practice itself and how it continues to evolve.

With over 17 years of experience in the design industry, Homaxi explains: “It’s the ability to influence and create experiences. The ability to help clients deliver work that is far more customer centric.”

Homaxi is herself a design leader, and here she shares her wisdom on how to climb the ranks to success.

Here are the top five ways to become a leader in design according to Homaxi:

1. Opportunity and learning

For Homaxi, a key to success is trusting in your abilities and making informed choices.

“I’m definitely a person to whom opportunity has presented itself to, time and again. You need to take the leap and embrace opportunities when they come your way,” says Homaxi.

2. Openness

To be an innovative designer, people need to open up rather than narrow down to solve problems. Design thinking promotes a particular mindset that needs to be open to new or different approaches and solutions to problem solving and opportunity creation.

The design process is experimental and Homaxi explains that designers need to constantly evolve their approach to solutions:

“It’s an openness to evolve how you’re doing things. It’s an openness to discuss things with your peers. You need to read, adapt and trial different things constantly.”

3. Network

It’s important to make quality connections and build and nurture your current network. To develop those quality connections, Homaxi explains it’s all about sharing knowledge and paying it forward to help others around you achieve success.

“I have a very strong extended network and I have a very strong closer set of peers. It’s about learning from them and sharing with them. It works both ways.”

Sharing stories, tips, recommendations and introductions to your network is what helps build the community and sets you apart as a contributor and ultimately a leader.

4. Ambiguity

The ability to work with ambiguity is important for User Experience Designers in particular. But what does Homaxi mean by ambiguity? And when it comes to design, how can you make ambiguity your friend?

“Ambiguity basically means discomfort,” explains Homaxi.

“We’re always working with some degree of ambiguity. But that doesn’t mean walking into a workshop completely unprepared; it means you may not have had the clearest brief, vision or direction and things may be messy.”

Ambiguity is about embracing discomfort and that mess. It’s about understanding that things rarely go the way you expect them to.

“You’ve got to be able to handle this level of discomfort and go in with enough preparation so you can pivot and react to situations, knowing how and when to question and challenge.”

5. Experience

Finally, being a leader in design is all about the breadth of experience you have. Over the course of Homaxi’s career, she has worked in all different types of company structures, from consulting companies, in-house and freelancing. Homaxi says these structures engage in very different flavours of UX design approaches and it has taught her how to adapt to situations.

“For me, the experience of being in different environments and discovering how to advocate and engage stakeholders was pivotal,” admits Homaxi. “It helped me question how to move practice forward in an environment that’s limiting.”