Audrey Gordon is Director of Experience Strategy at MetLife, which means she does strategy work for the UX design of our websites and mobile apps, like MetLife.com or UpWise. In short, she often spends her days investigating what our users need across their journey, framing opportunities to design for those needs and helping prioritize where to start building. In spirit, her work is dynamic and thoughtful. To service moments in the user journey is to wrestle with the multiplicity of user identities and desires, and finding commonality is not always an easy feat.
Audrey’s undergraduate degrees are in Marketing and Finance, and the career opportunities that initially appealed to her drew on both skillsets. Her first role out of school was in management consulting in San Francisco, and five years later she decided to pursue a graduate degree in Design to specialize in design strategy. Our interview begins as her work always begins: With the user experience in mind.
Hi, Audrey. Your team often talks about how UX design focuses on championing users' needs in ways that create value for the business. Can you give us an example of how that works at MetLife?
Of course. For almost a year now, I've been involved in improving our web experiences for customers (employers and policy holders) who need to do things like file their claims. There’s a natural alignment between improving how customers interact with us online and their likelihood of staying as one of our customers. If we make it very difficult to work with us, they may move to a company who’s made it easier. In insurance, we know that not every interaction makes sense online since human touch is critical in certain moments, especially those that are emotionally difficult. Even though calls tend to be more expensive, we want our excellent call center agents to support our customers in those critical moments. And for everything else, we want – and our customers expect – for it all to be available online in the simplest way possible.
With this said, I imagine inclusivity is important to your work. Can you speak to the practice of inclusivity as a design strategist at MetLife?
Yes, inclusivity is critical because when we design, we make choices that communicate our assumptions about the world. We need diverse perspectives to help us understand alternatives and design experiences where everyone feels considered.
At MetLife, our team keeps in mind whose perspectives we’re privileging when making design decisions. As designers, we always need to ask ourselves how today’s decisions affect the future we are trying to create.
Excellent. What would you say has been your most successful project at MetLife so far?
I would say my most successful project has been designing and managing our Experience Design Community, which is a space to bring together our diverse practitioners from across MetLife globally to share their work, learnings, and ideas. We use this space to teach and learn about how to better design optimal experiences for our customer. The great thing about human-centered design is it can be used to design anything, including social and organizational structures, and so I really leaned into this opportunity at MetLife.
Looking back, what’s an experience in your professional career that most stands out as having impacted where you are today?
That’s a good question. Although I don't believe that graduate school is a necessity to work in this field, for me it was a transformative experience and helped me more easily pivot from business roles to a design role at MetLife. Plus, it was just so much fun! In some ways, my design program was like kindergarten for adults because we were given this room to play, discover, and struggle to find our own design perspective.
Finally, share a piece of advice you’ve received that’s had the greatest impact on your professional goals.
A female executive once told me it’s her generation's job to fight for women to get a seat at the table, and it was the next generation's job to figure out what to do with that seat. I think about that often...how we have the opportunity to create new dynamics in the workplace.