Casual Conversations: Sharks and Hybrids

I had the pleasure of sharing lunch with Mary McBride, director of Pratt’s design business program and Michael Lejeune, creative director at LA Metro, during last week’s Pivot conference.

We were discussing the challenge of working as a designer in a corporate environment and what specific skills and aptitudes designers need to succeed at their companies. Mike used a clever metaphor to describe the design-driven innies who are best left working in hands-on roles rather than taking on more managerial or client facing responsibilities. He called those individuals sharks – designers who have to keep moving from one design project to the next lest they die like a shark who ceases to swim.

I believe it was Mary who used the word hybrid to describe those unique creatives who possess a mix of both right-brain and left-brain abilities and attitudes. We discussed how they were the ones best suited to lead internal creative teams, acting as a bridge and a buffer for their groups.

It’s critical to every in-house designer’s success to discern whether they are a shark or a hybrid and seek out career opportunities that are a good fit for their mindset.