Head of Design

Permanent position

Wellington, New Zealand

Optimal Workshop is building discovery tools for crafting better human experiences. Our software is used by experience designers, information architects and user researchers in over 100 countries and in over 70 languages worldwide.


  • To link Optimal Workshop’s (OW) business mission, strategy, and processes to its Design strategy.
  • To set the direction and establish a best-in-class approach to our Design Faculty practices and to champion design thinking at OW. This includes but is not limited to product, brand, visual communication, UX, UI and internal experience design.
  • To deliver an optimal brand experience across all of OW’s delivery.

Key Accountabilities

  • Develop, own and lead the strategy and implementation of world-class design across OW. This includes brand and product design guidelines, ensuring the function of design is understood and embedded for growth within OW.
  • Lead the Design Faculty ensuring the balance of skill sets is in place, providing mentoring, and ensuring professional growth is in line with company strategy.
  • Drive cross squad and team collaboration and connectivity ensuring OW’s Design Faculty individuals are collaborative, cross-functional team players and that relationships with all other faculties are strong.
  • Align our processes and methodologies to improve the quality and efficiency of design work, ensuring how we do design is efficient and in line with industry best practices.


  • Provide strategic thinking and leadership around the application of design and its importance as a discipline, contributing to the Product & Brand Design squad’s vision, strategy and workplan.
  • Responsible for the continued evolution of the Optimal Workshop brand with a business-based approach to its further development.
  • Responsible for the design process, uncovering customer needs and pain points, executing elegant interfaces across different touchpoints and devices and telling that story to OW’s audiences.
  • Be the central point of contact for strategic design matters including providing guidance and assisting teams on design decisions, and connecting decisions to the wider technical, product and company strategy.
  • Explains design concepts and ideology in a way others can understand, with proven ability to influence and facilitate significant change in thinking and approach.
  • Guardianship of Optimal Workshop’s brand and relevant sub brands (UXNZ and CRUX) to ensure they are applied accurately and effectively.
  • Well-developed written and oral communication skills (especially reporting, mapping and documenting processes and evaluations).


  • Inspire design-led thinking across OW, including being the internal voice of design, leading by example ensuring quality and consistency of design and building a strong, trusting Design Faculty culture that delivers world-class design outcomes aligned to OWs strategic priorities.
  • Build and maintain the capability of the Design faculty to meet current and future design resourcing requirements including the recruitment and onboarding of new Design Faculty members.
  • Mentor and support the growth and development of Design Faculty members, assisting them to self-identify and self-organise to be more effective and efficient.
  • Work with the Design faculty to delegate non squad based work effectively and in ways that support development and growth of team members.
  • Ensure all design deliverables produced by the OW Design Faculty members and/or by external agencies on behalf of OW, are of a high quality and align with brand guidelines and product design systems.
  • Ensure that all design activity is informed by the voice of the customer and sound analytics and insights, and delivers a better experience for all end users (e.g. customers, participants, community, and/or staff).
  • Foster effective design critique/review processes with the Design Faculty to encourage knowledge sharing in useful and constructive ways.
  • Ensure visual, UX, UI, product and communication designers have the appropriate ways of working in place to scale as needed in the future.
  • Continuously improve processes, tools and ways of working across all design disciplines.
  • Ability to lead a dispersed DF over multiple cross-functional teams without formal authority

People and Culture

  • Consistent with OW’s broader culture, develop and nurture a high-performing, customer-obsessed culture that is focused on financial performance.
  • Identifies and helps to manage conflict and performance issues for people in the Design Faculty using a robust toolkit of team-building practices to ensure an open and collaborative environment.
  • Upholds the principles of and models the behaviours of the Optimal Way.
  • Create clarity for the design strategy with an organised work style that is structured, rigorous and consistent.
  • Collaborate and work with diverse and complex stakeholders, including at senior levels, to understand their needs, using customer feedback, research and analysis to drive design decisions.
  • Excellent relationship management, negotiation, facilitation and influencing skills.


  • You will have a good understanding of design systems and how they work, and with at least two years of hands-on experience managing a team of designers. Your design related tertiary qualification and relevant work experience means you have a deep understanding of web accessibility and responsive design.
  • Deep knowledge of what good customer-centred product and UX design looks like and a sound understanding of SAAS product design and delivery
  • Broad design and project management methodologies and practices knowledge e.g. agile, waterfall and co-design, and experience with visual modelling (eg workflow diagrams, wireframes).
  • Using a range of metrics monitor the success and health of initiatives and decisions based on evidence.

We like to do things differently at Optimal Workshop – Do you?