[Podcast] Microsoft Designer: Surya Vanka

There are about 750 UX designers and researchers working at Microsoft. People in the UX community are often very surprised to hear about it. I think part of it is we haven't given our designers enough opportunities to talk about what they do and what's it like to work as designers at Microsoft. During my spare time when visiting Redmond, I try to talk to as many designers as possible from different product teams and share with you their stories.

In this episode, I had the chance to chat with Surya Vanka, who’s the Principle Manager of User Experience at Microsoft. Surya leads the team that promotes UX Design excellence and supports designers’ career growth in the comapny. Therefore, it was very interesting to hear his perspective on Microsoft’s design culture and career opportunities for designers.

image In our 15 minutes conversation below, I asked Surya the following questions:

  • What is your role and main responsibilities?
  • You are a seasoned UX professional at Microsoft, how was the UX culture changed during the time you've been at MS?
  • What are the different things we do to help designers grow at Microsoft?
  • What are the career models for UX designers and Researchers at Microsoft?
  • What are some exciting opportunities for designers at Microsoft?
  • What makes a successful UX designer working at Microsoft?

Surya’s Bio

Surya is Principal Manager of User Experience at Microsoft Corporation, and oversees best practices and engineering standards to create high-quality user experiences for Microsoft’s customers. He has worked a designer and manager on several products during his ten years at Microsoft. His mission is to put the users rather than technology at the center of the development process for all of Microsoft's products. Surya was professor of design at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and was a Fellow at the prestigious Center for Advanced Study. He is the author of two books on design, has lectured on design in over 20 countries, and is widely published. His work has appeared in numerous publications including Design Council UK global design study, Form, ID Magazine, WIRED, Interactions, BBC Radio, National Public Radio, and Channel 15 Television. Surya is a frequent speaker worldwide; his recent speaking engagements include keynote presentation at -- Dutch Design Week (Eindhoven), Barcelona Design Week (Barcelona), Digital Days Conference (Paris), Spletomanija (Ljubljana), Danish Design Center (Copenhagen), Thought Leadership in Management Conference (Mumbai), Design: The Linking Force (Paris), Creative IT Conference (Twente), Expressions (Moscow), International Design Research Conference (Hong Kong), International Schools of Business Conference (Orlando) and Expressions Design Tour (Oslo). He regularly teaches design, user research and innovation courses in Asia, Europe, North and America.

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