Lead Design Strategist

Here at Portable...

...we care about people and the world. We seek out areas of social need and policy failure and make transformational change using research, design and technology. Our clients are as passionate as we are and are working in government agencies, nonprofit organisations and socially-minded businesses. Our job is to help them define, design and deliver new products, services and ways of working that better meet the needs of people in the community.

There are currently 50+ of us working as researchers, strategists, designers, technologists, producers and visionaries towards our mission from our office in Collingwood and working remotely from home.


Then there's you...

...a Lead Design Strategist who loves working closely with designers, researchers and strategists to enable them to perform at their best. As a Lead at Portable, your job is first and foremost to provide direction, support and learning for the people you lead.

You're an authority in the practice of Human Centred Design, and use your broad and deep experience delivering high quality work to guide team members towards best practice methodologies and impactful outcomes across service design, co-design, human-centered research, prototyping and testing of digital products and services.

You have the technical skills required to execute large projects across digital strategy and design, and you have the social and emotional skills required to effectively improve and guide a team of designers towards excellent delivery.

You "get" what it's like to be a designer because you've lived it. You work to create the right conditions for discovery, empathy, creativity and experimentation to thrive. You ensure that the people you lead have the capability and tools to deliver on their projects. You also work to ensure that the design practice is regularly improved through the contribution of new tools, processes, methodologies and approaches.


You could be a Lead if...

...guiding teams to use design to solve real problems is your thing. You love being immersed in problems that are hard to define and hard to solve. You have a robust toolkit across human-centred design, which allows you to walk into any number of environments and problem spaces with confidence. And more than anything you enjoy supporting others to practice great design work that makes a difference in the lives of people in the community.

You're a people person who's able able to lead with empathy with people and clients at all levels of experience. You lean into difficult challenges and influence the decision making of senior leaders and your team. You're able to balance big picture strategic objectives with the goals and motivations of the people you lead.

Whilst comfortable to sit in the ambiguity of complex problems, you're solution-focused. When problems arise, you don't just flag them; you take the responsibility to find solutions and bring others on that journey with you. You are comfortable assessing and making compromises and can support others to do the same.

You work to build the engagement of your team in their work, and give effective feedback that helps them learn and grow. You're courageous enough to have challenging conversations when required, with people at all levels of experience.


As a lead, you’ll be expected to deliver the following outcomes:

  • The people you lead are engaged in their work, growing their practice and performing well
  • The people you lead have the capability and tools to deliver on their projects
  • Guidance, shaping and intervention where required on the delivery of high quality design work that clearly demonstrates meeting the needs of users and our clients
  • Develop, enhance, optimise and share best practice methods and tools that evolve our design practice for clients and research participants
  • Yourself and the people you lead are engaged in contributing to Portable as a business, including co-defining and executing on our strategic objectives and aligning them with the goals and daily operations of your team


You'll be expected to have knowledge and experience in these areas:

  • Deep knowledge of HCD methodologies and application to a variety of problems, large and small
  • Demonstrated experience managing, mentoring and leading designers and teams to deliver great design work
  • Experience creating the conditions within an organisation for designers and the design process to thrive
  • Growing knowledge of emerging methodologies and technologies that inform a design practice to solve bigger, more complex problems
  • Experience working and leading in multi-disciplinary teams from research through to delivery


Expertise you may have that would complement our team's experience

  • Experience with measurement and evaluation for social impact
  • Systems thinking and design in complex systems
  • Policy design
  • Academic and ethnographic research
  • Co-design and design research with people from diverse backgrounds, including those experiencing vulnerable circumstances
  • Experience in organisational change and large scale transformation projects


If you were here last week, you may have:

  • Provided guidance and feedback to the team on a workshop design to help a not for profit executive team design their digital strategy and roadmap
  • Coached a member of the team who reports to you to grow their capability presenting research insights to senior stakeholders
  • Shaped the conceptual approach to a large and complex mental health project involving over 150 research participants from diverse backgrounds, lived experiences and situations
  • Negotiated with our Production team and the client on the scope and timeframes for a project based on new learning emerging throughout the process
  • Helped your team get unstuck whilst in synthesis of insights and user stories resulting from research on barriers faced by Aboriginal people when accessing justice online
  • Ran an internal workshop to help create a more inclusive recruitment process for research participants
  • Researched and developed a new policy to improve our ethical research practice across the team
  • Planned and facilitated a Design discipline meeting **with the rest of the design team (15+ people) to share practice reflections and insights
  • Shared something weird and wonderful that you're strangely passionate about at our weekly Design Safari, where anyone can share the things from outside our work that inspire them
  • Contributed your expertise to improving the way our team of Design Strategists facilitate stakeholder sessions on impact and feasibility assessment of product and service ideas
  • Taken a moment on a Friday afternoon to join the team for some pictionary or trivia to see out the week
  • Presented an update to Senior Leadership on your team's progress toward strategic goals



The salary range for this role is between $115,000 - $150,000 per annum (plus superannuation), depending on your level of experience. We are committed to building a diverse and equal team - people from traditionally underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply.


How to apply:

To be considered, please send us your resume and a cover letter answering the following question:

  • What has attracted you to this role and why would you be a good fit?
  • Tell us about a time you guided a designer or team of designers to successfully balance a human-centered approach to a complex problem with the constraints of the client, the budget and the timeline. How did you manage this?
  • Tell us about an improvement or innovation you've made to the practice of a team of designers you've led.
Apply Now

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