Albert Lee on kickstarting a design transformation

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During one of the more bizarre twists in my career path, I spent a few years as a commercial food photographer, working with Michelin-star restaurants like the now sadly defunct Ubuntu Napa.

So I was suitably impressed when I found out that our guest, Albert Lee, had spent time as a wine steward at the famous Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California—a restaurant that basically ignited the farm-to-table movement in the US.

This wasn’t the only high-caliber institute that Lee has worked with; far from it. From a stint at Frank Gehry’s architecture studio to his time at IDEO and now NEA—the world’s largest VC firm—Lee’s resume is a star-studded list with some top names in architecture, design, and entrepreneurship.

You might not guess as much speaking with him though. He’s incredibly humble and gracious, given his accomplishments. Lee was a pleasure for us to interview. Given the breadth of his experience at these top institutions, it’s probably not a surprise that he values a balanced approach between design, engineering, and product teams.

In this episode, he shared insights in the same knowledgeable, authentic manner that likely charmed the guests at Chez Panisse.

There were quite a few takeaways, but I suggest listening for insights on:

  • Divergent thinking and the creative process at Gehry Partners
  • How to kickstart a design transformation
  • The best hiring practices Lee sees at budding companies
  • The common things design leaders struggle with when in a new role

All that’s just the beginning of what you’ll learn from Lee’s stories.

If you like what we’re doing and want to hear the stories of more great designers like Albert, it would help us out a lot if you subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and leave us a review.

Thanks for listening!


Eli Woolery, Director of Design Education at InVision
Eli is the Director of Design Education at InVision. His design career spans both physical and digital products, and he is a lecturer in the Product Design program at Stanford University. You can find Eli on Medium or on Twitter.

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