What's the highest position you can get while still pixel pushing at least half the time? I have no intention of spending the rest of my life in meetings 8 hours a day. I've heard in tech it's Principal Designer (maybe).

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Titles vary by company. My observation is as soon as people manage more than 2 others they aren’t designing anymore.

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I’d say you should never let your talent and experience go to waste. Even if you have to manage / mentor other designers, try to make room for yourself. I’m CCO and still choose to work directly on design projects about 40% of my time. Don’t let those meetings kill your true passion. Your team/company will thank you for it.

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I'd love to have an arrangement like that. I love mentoring and managing people, so if I can get that high, but stay on the tools then it's a definite win. It's good to hear that it's company specific. I'll have to see what in-house looks like, only because startups are just too unpredictable for me.

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I still do a lot of design at my level and it's the last one where that's the case. I do less management of people and more management of problems related to production, if that makes sense?

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I think they would consider themselves mature but I would not. They do value design though and I think a lot of that is because of how intentional they are with design. It's hard to argue with results. If you go up one level or higher, the skills start to fade and politics and management steps in and that's where I see the good stuff disappear into a void of analysis paralysis.

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I'm barely a senior and overloaded with meetings. It varies per company

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I have about 8 years experience of doing product/ux and still able to dedicate at least 50% of my time executing at higher level (IA, strtegy, experience concepts, journey map, service blueprint, wireframes, etc) at a larger design agency. However every year it gets progressively harder to carve out time to do actual designwork.

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Depends entirely on where you work as others have said. I manage 3 people and still pixel push about 60-70% of the time. That's by design however, as I've told my managers that I want to continue designing at least 50% of the time and they're okay with that. You can mold a role into what you want. However, if I wasn't in advertising, I imagine the role would be Lead Designer/Principal Designer or maybe even Design Director.

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Think it also depends where you work. I previously had a team of 5 designers reporting to me in another role, where as now work mostly independently but also oversee several accounts and am involved in a lot of business development. I have the same title but earn quite bit more in this role, and arguably have much more freedom to run and plan projects which is a broader kind of responsibility Larger more hierarchical businesses you'll typically find yourself managing others, smaller flatter ones you'll do a bit of that but also get on the tools. So if you want to stay on the tools, go inhouse/startups and smaller agencies. Our ECD still regularly helps out on design work on the tools (design team is 9 people out of a 40 person agency) - but I know they also get weighed down with management/resourcing more than they'd like.

@OP, there’s a fair few reads over on medium and elsewhere discussing the pursuit of an IC career path versus more managerial roles. May be worth a look. https://medium.com/@koun/to-ic-and-not-to-be-a-manager-cc92309d6fec

I forgot about IC! Appreciate that CD. Definitely gonna take a look. I know I would love to manage my personal team; I just don't want to manage clients too 😂 might have to learn that balance.

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