Our engineers, product managers, designers, and researchers are pushing boundaries to build next-level products for our members. From shaping the architecture of our mobile-first product suite to designing and building a holistic member experience, our team is at the center of it all. In this four-part series, we’re taking you behind the SoFi app to meet the dream team who is shaping the future of not only the company, but the entire fintech industry.
Readers - you’ve met The Researcher, The Conductor, and The Builder. What’s next? The Designer who is bringing it all together for an intuitive, easy, and ever-evolving experience for our members. Meet Robert Konves, Senior Staff Product Designer.
How do you collaborate with engineers, product managers, and researchers in your job as a Senior Staff Designer?
Robert: I started working with the design systems team in early 2020. The team that I’m on requires constant communication with our engineering counterparts. This is important, because we’re able to come together as a core unit to have discussions with product vertical teams about how their work is added to design and code libraries.
At the Senior Staff level, I also meet weekly with engineering leaders and PMs (like Sasank and his team) to help shape current and upcoming projects. These discussions are opportunities for me to stress the importance of craft and the time needed to make great things happen—those things that influence how members and others out in the world see us through our products.
The great part is that we do know how we’re perceived, thanks to our research partners (check out Sarah’s article to learn more). I sit in on focused weekly design and research meetings that specifically tell us how our members are feeling about the product that’s in their hands. The challenge is in how we take that feedback and combine it with fresh ideas or concepts that really bring the quality we’re striving for to an entirely new level.
What is the most important part of your role?
Robert: This is ever evolving, but the one constant and crucial thing, for me, is helping others visualize what our product experience could be—not solving for what it is today. A big part of this is personally stepping back and making sure that we’re not complacent, while also hopefully helping unlock potential in others. Great talent is all around me, and I really want to help amplify that.
I’m privileged to be in a position that allows us to see horizontally how all our products can better fit together to form that cohesive journey for our members. It’s an enormous challenge, to look at all the products we offer our members and say, “we can make this easier for them to navigate and, what’s more, a joy to use every single day.”
“I’m privileged to be in a position that allows us to see horizontally how all our products can better fit together to form that cohesive journey for our members.”
Lastly, what made you decide to become a designer?!
Robert: My father was a commercial artist, and I grew up in San Antonio watching him explore all these different forms. He would always be at his drafting table, perfecting whatever job he’d taken on at that moment. It could be architectural renderings, detailed specifications for machine parts, or commissions from the US Air Force to do airbrush paintings of their entire fleet. I even recall going to auto shows, where he would just show up and do freehand glass etchings for classic cars.
I always appreciated how carefully he measured his work before committing to anything more than a light, 9H-weight pencil. From custom type to those detailed renderings, there wasn’t much room for error. I can actually still hear that electric eraser of his, and the seemingly endless crumpling of mistakes made on those large pieces of paper. There was something about that process that I admired, though—that discipline to push toward a final polish. It’s probably why I nitpick on details to this day.
“It's hard not to be inspired by all the things design can do.”
Seeing all of this at a young age, it’s hard not to be inspired by all the things design can do. And with technology dramatically changing that landscape as I grew older, it opened my eyes to more possibilities. I started paying attention to all things design; theater posters, signage, album covers, book covers, typography, illustration—all of it. So, I ultimately chose to pursue design as a career in a discipline that requires the work to constantly evolve. That’s what keeps me coming back to it every single day.
You’re an inspiration, Robert. SoFi is lucky to have employees like you who have a creative spirit, are open to evolution, and innovation, and always stay focused on our mission: helping our members achieve financial independence.
The individual featured is a SoFi employee. Their personal experiences, obviously, do not take into account your own specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. Results will vary.
©2022 Social Finance, Inc. All rights reserved.