Charged Chats is a series of interviews featuring inspiring voices from the pros. What motivates them, what inspires them, and what can we take away from their stories to charge ourselves up.
Andréa Crofts is a design leader and community builder. She is the Director of Product Design at League, a digital-first health benefits platform focused on preventative health.
With a deep love for creating exceptional and accessible human-centered experiences, Andréa’s work lives at the intersection of inclusivity, accessibility and design ethics. She has applied this mindset to her work for companies like Wealthsimple, RBC, and World Vision.
Tell us about your career path. How did you get to where you are now?
My career so far has been a winding road that has led me to roles in public relations, graphic design, front end development, e-commerce, product design, and finally to design leadership. Throughout all of these roles, I’ve had a subtle sense of discomfort in the unknown. But I’ve always held a strong belief that saying an enthusiastic “yes” now and figuring it out along the way is the best opportunity to learn.
In the early days, I viewed my career as an open field rather than a worn-down path. I set out to explore different facets of this field to figure out what resonated most with me. Eventually, though, more concrete paths formed around the things I enjoyed. These helped pave the way for my current career path in Design leadership.
Along this path (and field) of constant ambiguity, I’ve won awards for my work in e-commerce and fell in love with public speaking. This has led me to speak internationally, as far away as Amsterdam. Having the ability to throw my introverted self on-stage to share thoughts on topics I care deeply about has helped me develop the self-confidence I need to lead teams and drive product strategy in my day job, too.
At League, my work and design philosophy live at the intersection of design ethics, inclusivity, and accessibility. I lead a team of talented designers working to re-define the health insurance industry and help people gain access to better health resources and benefits plans.
Describe your current role?
I’m currently the Director of Design at League. I support our brand and product design teams to tell the right story about our product and service offerings - to our clients, and our members.
Right now at League, our focus is on applying behavioural science and nudge theory with the goal of helping our members live happier, healthier lives. Our goal is to translate small nudges into long-term behaviour change, and enable our members to use their flexible health benefits to fuel healthy lifestyles.
How do you stay motivated when you’re going through a rough patch?
I tend look both inward and outward for motivation when the path gets rocky. As an introvert, looking inward is second nature to me - morning pages help me write down what I’m feeling and make sense of it all. This involves free association writing (whatever comes to mind) and gratitude journaling. Sometimes, in the pace of life today, it’s easy to get tangled up in the stressors of everyday. Taking the occasional quiet moment to ourselves can help us acknowledge where we’re being pulled to, and whether or not we should follow those feelings or let them pass.
Looking outside the world of design and technology is also really valuable when I’m in a funk. Lately, I’ve been particularly interested in human psychology and anthropology - drawing connections to analogous industries and schools of thought really help me to see the big picture. Academia is a consistent reminder that there’s always so much more to learn.
Words of wisdom for anyone looking to get into product design?
Be infinitely curious. Ask plenty of questions. Get to the root of the problem. Spend 80% of your time asking questions, and the remaining time on the solution itself. Share what you’ve learned with others. Connect and care deeply about the people you’re building for, and the solution will come naturally.
Be sure to test it out in the wild to be sure it’s the right one. If not, you won’t be starting from scratch… you’ll be starting from experience. Love the problem and you’ll create things that are helpful to people.
(I also wrote an article about transitioning from graphic to product design, if you happen to find yourself at this specific fork in the road!)
Best piece of advice you’ve received?
I don’t know where I came across this, but it really resonated with me:
The hardest things in life are contradictory - like confidence and humility. Growth and stability. Vision and the ability to listen.
I love this ‘mystery’ advice because it highlights the delicate balance involved in being a leader, and a human being. This series of metaphorical see-saws are a driving factor in my adaptability in leadership - they shape how I show up at work, and in life, every day.
Some days call for confidence, while others require a well-balanced cocktail of confidence and humility. Some days call for dropping the armour altogether and showing up with 100% humility. The constant pursuit of balance is what makes the journey so invigorating.