Hatch Design Talks 2023





Talking to Stakeholders and getting your Buy-In

Talking to Stakeholders and getting your Buy-In

Kevin Hawkins

Kevin Hawkins

Global UX Director, Glovo

Global UX Director, Glovo

About the Episode

Today I have a chat with Kevin Hawkins, who has been leading teams in companies like PWC, Booking, and most recently Glovo. His talk at Hatch focuses on getting buy-in for projects that are sometimes not wanted, so we dig into some examples of this, as well as on his takes on the transition from contributor to manager. We go through how Glovo shifted from a necessity product into a "luxurious" one after the pandemic.




Damian: Hi, Kevin. Thank you so much for being with me today in this small podcast that we record to help people see who's talking at Hatch. How are you doing?

Kevin: I'm doing great. How are you?

Damian: Good good. Joining all the way from the Philippines. So let's start a little bit about you and about your career.

You were working as global head of UX for one of Europe's unicorns Glovo. How did you get started in design and what's the story behind, how you got to where you are today?

Kevin: I was a self taught front end developer for three or four years and really liked the user testing part back then. It was mostly like jaws and let's say usability testing and that convinced me to move over to the UX side and never looked back. So it's been about 17 years since then.

Was in the States for a while, worked at startup companies, worked at really large companies in the States like Gap and Duke and Morgan Chase ended up at Booking. com in Amsterdam. And because I like marketplaces so much Glovo seemed like a good fit.

Damian: And how did you know you wanted to become a manager? Or was it like a natural process for you?

Kevin: I think everyone has those moments when you have a manager whom you disagree with consistently. Where you're like, you have this internal dialogue where you're like, I could do this so much better. I wish I could, be in charge of the team. And so when the opportunity comes and you enjoy it and you get good feedback, it validates those assumptions and then you keep going into management.

 I've always been on really scrappy teams, and so it's pretty flat organizationally, so like everyone's hands on like player coaching. But I really do enjoy like kicking off projects doing really fun kickoffs facilitating workshops and then also, of course, presenting the big projects to leadership.

Damian: And what do you look for in people when you're hiring for positions, especially for design positions in terms of skill and personality?

Kevin: It's a mixture of what the company needs and then what I always look for. I think that sometimes depends on the culture of the company I'm working for. Personally, I love people who Have like a nerdy lens, like they, they like to really understand the business and kind of the parts beyond the pixels, beyond the design and research side to actually understand, like how it impacts the actual user, like day to day if we're working on enterprise solutions, you've got to realize it's enterprise sounds so removed from, tooling that helps people get their jobs done, and then if you're working in consumer stuff, you've You know, in the food space, it's easy to say, Oh, we help people buy food because they're hungry. They want to now, but sometimes it's emergencies. Sometimes people are using global to get allergy medicine, or they really need to get something that's going to help them for health reasons.

It isn't always just, fun and games.

Damian: And you mentioned exactly this, one of the things that Glovo did especially through the pandemic it's to get maybe the economy to keep going and to help people stay safe . How did your team cope with having to probably ship a bunch of new features to, to adapt without, do you remember that time of your life?

Kevin: I came into Glovo right as the pandemic was ending. Let's say pretty much everything related to food, groceries generally did really well during the pandemic. So 4X growth, tons of new users.

Glovo, I think, hire something like 1500 people during this time. And so we actually had to deal with. What was it like to lose that value because people were, there's more competitive options. People had choices. They can be their house. So actually changing the mindset of we are not needed anymore.

We are not, this like item that is a necessity. We are now luxury and changing that mindset on the team and getting people to think of it that way was the big shift.

Damian: I've been in Spain multiple times and I have used the Glovo app. And one of my favorite things has always been like how playful is and easy to use. It feels like not boring as the standard delivery apps.

Actually the ones that we have here in Germany, the quite , was that something that was like incentivized from the leadership or just the consequence of the culture that Glovo had? Making the app fun to use. 

Kevin: Okay. So this is funny because our parent company is German. But 


the origin story of Glovo it's, it's two guys from Catalonia. So there's an inherent design awareness in the culture here. This is the home of Gaudi. So there is this playfulness, this fun ness that you see even in like municipality, government, sponsored advertisements for services around the city.

They even have illustrations and graphics and GIFs and memes and, so it's a very, let's say, design aware culture. It was a Designed from the very beginning for it to have this bright, playful yellow, for it to have beautiful illustrations. This has been there since the beginning. It's actually been a bit of a struggle to innovate and produce like a version two of this because people are very beholden to what was there before.

And the founders are very, let's say it's very dear to them the way it looks and how playful it is.

Damian: And you didn't have, obviously the need when it was acquired to just say let's just standardize everything, I guess that they still valued that people actually liked it and probably even use it more for that, I would suggest, no?

Kevin: Yeah, it actually, it's, it makes us stand out in a positive way. So we have no pressure to change on this way.

Damian: Nice. Let's switch about your talk at Hatch. You're actually talking about getting your buy in from stakeholders. Some thing we all struggle with at some point in our careers. Can you tell attendees what to expect from the talk?

Kevin: Yeah, certainly. So we oftentimes talk about what it's like to work with peers, but for big projects, you're usually going to your boss. Sometimes you're going to the peers of your boss. And so it's really about working that extended stakeholder community. It's about pitching and telling yourself.

It's about building those good relationships. And it's about how you actually get projects that no one asked for approved. Sometimes it's budgets don't want to give you. Sometimes it's projects. that people don't want to do and those are the things I like.

Damian: what are moments from your own experience that, that you feel that you had to learn, as a designer or as a manager to start asking to people who maybe didn't speak the same language.

Kevin: I think there's a lot of times where design and research bleed over into operations for businesses, and this is where they oftentimes don't see the value of having someone from our world be involved. When you talk about budget cuts right now, everyone in design and research thinks about layoffs.

We actually mitigated a lot of cuts in our area by switching the font. And so this was an unsolicited project. No one was looking at this opportunity, for example. And we were able to take our recurring costs and actually build a custom font and save us tons of money perpetually. This is just one example of a project that, no one asked for 

Damian: and I know that you're someone that as myself is excited about the recent AI developments. Are you working on projects that are powered by all these new AI tools that are upcoming, or would you want to work in something like that as well?


Kevin: I would say yes and no. I like working in practical UX, so I'm not someone who works on like super niche things. It's it's why I haven't worked in crypto, for example, in my career. so for us, I think AI's easiest application is on search and discovery for the kind of browser mindset user. we've I can't publicly talk about everything, but I can talk about what Talabat has done.

Talabat is our sister company, 

and they've used it to be a really, game changer on search. Imagine, What would take you five or six clicks, eight or seven different decisions to go through, categories, a list of restaurants, filters, sorting, all these things to just being able to give a very complex, complicated, question on the home screen and be able to get, three really good results saves users tons of time.

It actually helps them spend more of their time. What matters, which is reviewing the food items and the reviews and not just navigating into, the lower parts of the app. And so this is something that we think is going to be a big part of how I gets used for free delivery. It's going to be 

complicated, complex orders.

It's going to be multi store orders. It's going to be orders for multiple people in the household. It's going to be things that are very niche. So if I don't know what's gluten free or vegan I can possibly use a I to parse that information backwards, analyze information without having to dig into details.

And, very hard to reach screens. So this is where we think we use first. I think going forward, you could see a I probably helping out with how we do logistics and routing and things like this. But I think the consumers will probably experience mostly at first

Damian: yep. And lastly, you're a seasoned speaker. What's your process when preparing a talk? And, how do you know? 

How do you prepare and how do you actually know when it's ready to be done?

Kevin: It's always a fun one. I don't see them as talks. I see them as conversations because I'm very interactive when I'm on stage. So Even if I'm giving the same talk, it's rare that it is the same, if I've given it multiple times. It actually becomes a problem, because people will sometimes want to hear the same talk, because it's the same label, and people will come, and they'll be like, I missed it last time, I'm going to see it this time, and it's going to be different.

But I think it's done for me. When the slides give me confidence. For me, it's like a TED talk slides are my background. So I'm not reading off the screen. They're more of like a visual add on. They're more kind of Polish and so they're really just like the topics I'm speaking to what's gonna be on the screen and then anything that I want People to have as a takeaway any kind of lessons formulas techniques But those on the screen and when I have a very concrete, storyline in slides That talk is done.

And then I try to give, one key takeaway, maybe two key takeaways per talk. And so I separate my talks based on if I've gone over two, I try to cut them into separate talks and then logically group them.

Damian: So it's very interesting. Thank you so much for meeting me from this far away. You'll also be back in Europe, so I'm looking forward to to seeing you and obviously for your talk at Hatch and have a great rest of the summer.

Kevin: Yeah. Thank you.

Damian: Thank you.

Bye bye. Bye 

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