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When considering data and technology, so many of us might never think to consider design as part of the equation. But behind every successful piece of technology is a group of design masterminds: solving everyday problems, bringing empathy to mechanics, and putting function, beauty and longevity into the products we use every day.
After a weak stomach thwarted his boyhood dreams of becoming an astronaut, HERE’s head design mastermind (though his business card says Global VP of Design), Jay Grossen has spent his professional life searching for what he calls the ‘sweet spot.’ He describes it as the place that lies somewhere in between art & design, and engineering & technology.
“I’ve always tried to keep my hands and my brain in both places. I had fine art skills and the passion that comes with that, and saw the beauty of that logistical and mechanical engineering side of things, too. Where they come together is where the magic happens. And that’s why I’ve chosen the path that led me here,” he says. “For me it’s always been about trying to find meaning in what roles little bits and bites play, and what the technology is used for. That’s really where I feel most comfortable.”
After years of agency work and rarely having the opportunity to fully immerse himself in a brand, he says he was drawn to this role for the possibilities he saw in the products and the company itself, as well as how it matched his passions.
“I was looking for an organization that was very much in transition mode and HERE really fit the profile of that,” he says. “We’ve got a core technology that is and will always be extremely useful and very well seeded in the automotive industry. But they’d started looking at all these other places where data and location intelligence could make a difference, and it’s those possibilities – the what could happen, the what if – that really excited me.”
Each day he’s guided by one overarching goal: to change the way his global design team of around 70 interacts with the business. He’s inserting design (and designers) into projects earlier on, making human centricity part of the goal throughout, to “help shape products, help shape experiences and help shape the company.
But, like every big goal (and every new guy in the office), he had to start with the basics: getting to know who everyone was, where they were, and what they did. Once he got that sorted, the bigger plan took form, and he’s currently working with each of these teams to ensure “we’re all chanting the same mantra.”
“The goal is to bring everyone together to build things that are usable. And hopefully that changes people’s behavior. Hopefully that changes people’s mindset. And hopefully it changes the world.”