Early in her career, Sandy Micone was under the impression that there was a specific profile of a creative leader. “My interpretation was someone who commanded a room and dictated all the concepts and strategies for the team to execute,” she said.
But as Micone continued to work in a strict hierarchical structure that aligned with that description, she found her creativity stifled without opportunities to explore her own ideas and take on new challenges.
“I told myself, ‘If I ever manage a team, I will figure out how to inspire my team and get the best out of everyone,’” Micone said. “My strengths weren’t about being a solitary design savant, but rather collaborating across diverse disciplines to arrive at successful outcomes,” she said.
“I told myself, ‘If I ever manage creatives, I will figure out how to inspire my team and get the best out of everyone.’”
Now, as the head of design at Philo, Micone is putting that vision for leadership into action.
Micone is grateful to have found her own niche — and wants to help the designers on her team to do the same. This approach empowers Micone’s team to take ownership of their work and find unexpected opportunities to grow.
“The entire team institutes the guidelines, the principles, and the philosophy,” she said. “It is not always sunshine and rainbows. There are times when we disagree, however with transparency and communication, we are able to align on an outcome.”
Built In sat down with Micone to hear more about her vision for leadership and what makes Philo’s design team stand out.
What is your leadership vision for the design team?
I want everyone to have a voice, a point of view, and a shared understanding of our ethos. But most importantly, my team members should be passionate about their roles, their projects, and the overall success for the business. We win and fail together — we learn from all our experiences.
Each person adds a different style, skill or way of thinking to our team. I want everyone to develop their strengths, learn from each other and grow in their personal careers. I hope all designers make the time to figure out what makes them unique because there is no template for success — each designer has to define and develop it for themself.
“We win and fail together.”
Why did you join Philo?
Before I joined Philo, I was looking for a place where not only did I love the product, but more importantly, the culture, where they care about growing every team member into a leader — our CEO, Andrew McCollum has built this empowering culture. We harness unique strengths to help their team grow. Our flat organizational structure gives everyone a voice, which aligns with my personal values.
At Philo, we all believe great experiences create a great brand — I mean, we are reinventing TV — a designer’s dream! The work was not only super exciting for me, but Philo’s values aligned with my personal values; creating leaders, great user experience and design, and constantly thinking about invention.
What is Philo’s design team working on now?
Our design team’s philosophy is to learn all the rules and then know when to break them.
Our product design team is working to reinvent the TV experience by polishing and concocting seamless user experiences and features on all platforms. We are also creating a cohesive, scalable, consistent design system that makes sense on each device while doing user research and testing, building prototypes and sometimes even coding ourselves.
Our visual designers support marketing efforts across an array of acquisition channels like paid social, connected TV, brand partnerships, email and web landing pages. We build and evolve our visual identity to elevate Philo and meet growing demands and new brand executions. We partner with cross-functional groups to ensure proper brand standards are met on all projects — big or small, internal or external.
Finally, the motion designers elevate the Philo experience through story, using animation and audio and visual effects. We keep the learning, innovating and imagining on-going with supportive accountability and regularly apply and share industry updates to keep Philo’s visual integrity up to industry standards.
A GREAT FIT AT PHILO
What makes a designer a great fit at Philo? There isn’t one simple answer. “The team is so diverse in talent, we try to find the next hire to fill a specific skill the team lacks,” Micone said. “But overall, we are seeking designers who are obsessed about innovative design, always consider function and form concurrently, and thrive off creating great user experience. Our successful designers love design systems and developing brand design into a cohesive, scalable and ownable style.”
What are you excited to accomplish next?
Rethinking product experiences, evolving and enriching our brand, refining the design system and growing the business and team. Culturally, I am excited to continue learning from successes and failures, developing and nurturing the team, and myself, while laughing and problem-solving with my colleagues.