Home > Women Leaders in Technology > Q&A With Daria Naidenov

Q&A With Daria Naidenov

Senior Digital Designer at T-Mobile

April 09, 2020
Daria Naidenov is a Senior Digital Designer at T-Mobile where she helps push the creative envelope through social, web, and digital branded experiences. Previously she worked with a variety of start-ups and SaaS companies to create and execute design strategies to move each individual company’s brand identity forward. Daria received her Bachelor of Arts in Digital Technology and Culture from Washington State University. She enjoys exploring the intersection of art and technology, where creative conceptual ideas develop into compelling digital solutions.

Deck 7: Can you tell us a little about your career journey? What inspired you to pursue your current role at T-Mobile?
I’ve always had an interest in human psychology, specifically understanding the social and cultural impacts on our personal decisions, and vice versa. This fascination along with my passion for art that creates impact, led me to design. This space allowed me to collaborate with various other fields to create clear and beautiful communication. I began my journey in a more traditional area of design which included graphic design, print, and advertising. A lot of my work was involved with marketing for non-profits and educational institutions. I enjoyed meeting people where they are and creating relevant and sophisticated messaging for them. My skillset ultimately led me to work with startups, SaaS, and tech companies where design thinking takes a whole new medium. I transitioned into the space of web, social, and app design.

Now more than ever, empathy and understanding of human communication became more impactful. I encountered the growing digital creative team at T-Mobile when I first moved to Seattle. It wasn’t a large team, but it had energy. The “no-bullshit, put your ego aside and let’s make something beautiful happen” attitude is what drew me in. Our team has almost doubled in size since I joined and with the new acquisition of Sprint, it is forecasted to at least double again. With the introduction of 5g, it’s an exciting time to be with T-Mobile to educate and inspire the public about our united future.

D7: How do you organize your mobile team, and what design methodology do you follow?
Our team is made up of writers and designers, working together as partners. There are levels of leadership and seniority, just like in other departments. Zoom in and you will see the vastness of skill and expertise of each individual contributor. Under the title of “digital designer”, you will find coders, illustrators, product photographers, visionaries, strategists and more. We combine our skills and collaborate to create experiences that not only meet business needs and customer expectations, but push the cultural envelope of design forward. And it’s pretty damn fun!

"Digital design is an exciting field to be in as new ways to tell stories are being constantly created."
D7: What are the qualities of the company, team, team members, culture, etc. that make you feel empowered?
While T-Mobile is customer crazed, it is also employee committed and this trickles down into all departments and aspects. Although the culture of our digital creative studio is to get shit done, there is usually enough space forinnovation and creativity. The people around me are not afraid to question authority and there’s no such thing as a stupid question. The fact that we’re all human, coming together to make this thing happen is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. This creates an empathetic space for mistakes to be made, which are essential to growth and fights corporate stagnation. 

"The human voice, with all its flaws, tones, and beauty is the most powerful tool today."
D7: Why is digital design such an attractive area to be in right now? What progress have you witnessed regarding diversity in the design world?
Digital design is an exciting field to be in as new ways to tell stories are being constantly created. These stories, at the core, are only as effective as they are relevant. The only way people will listen, is if the message applies to them. And what better way to be effective than to have the diversity of humanity mirrored in the message and its creators? As we give in to our humanity, people start to pay attention. The human voice, with all its flaws, tones, and beauty is the most powerful tool today. Although we are far from perfect, I see an energy of empathy which expresses itself in accessible messaging, diverse teams, and fair representation.

"Being an expert in your domain empowers you to feel confident in your work while also respecting the craft of others who are doing the same thing."
D7: What are the most difficult challenges a designer faces in her career? How did you adapt your skills and knowledge to the challenges you faced?
The world of design is in constant change. New tools being built, ideas created, and cultural trends passing. This can quickly become overwhelming for a designer trying to stay on top of their field. It is one of the main propellers of the imposter syndrome. While keeping up with the current technologies of design has great value, becoming a subject matter expert is essential for building a foundation which can then be broadened. Being an expert in your domain empowers you to feel confident in your work while also respecting the craft of others who are doing the same thing. From this point of humility and mutual respect, we can begin to share our methodologies and build from one another.This extends beyond digital design, where multi-disciplinary teams treat their work as an open-source that’s available to be learned by everyone.

However, allowing people to simply do their job is ultimately one of the most empowering things team members can do for each other. Because what matters in the end is the impact of the message and how well it resonates with its listeners. Trends and new technologies are there to support you, but what is essential is the story being told. It’s this focus that can be lost in a corporate world where designers can feel they are being told how to solve a problem instead of being entrusted to do our job. 

D7: What is your favorite quote?
Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance. – Brene Brown

About T-Mobile

T-Mobile USA provides wireless voice and data services in the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands under the T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile brands. On April 1, 2020, T-Mobile USA and SprintCorporation completed their merger with T-Mobile now being the whole owner of Sprint.