Meet our new VP of Product Design & Research

Categories: #LifeAtGR, Product

With COVID-19 continuing to spread nationwide and demands for healthcare changing more and more everyday, healthtech companies need to build creative solutions that meet people where they are at and get them accessible, high-quality, affordable care in new and different ways. Who better to help lead the way to new solutions than an expert in human-centered design? Grand Rounds is thrilled to welcome our new VP of Design & Research, Mike Kruzeniski, who brings with him over 15 years of consumer design experience and a deep, personal passion for changing the way we all experience healthcare. Having most recently spent eight years shaping design at Twitter, Mike is eager to apply some of his biggest lessons learned related to the value of intense focus and frequent, direct user feedback in his new role at Grand Rounds.

Read on to learn more about Mike and the unique perspective he brings. Enjoy!

What are you most proud of in your career to date?

Working on building the Twitter platform over eight years was a lot of fun and a privilege to be part of – But I’m most proud of the work we did when the company went through some really rough times. In 2015, the business was struggling, the product was in rough shape, a lot of people were leaving the company, and we went through a couple years of downsizing. That stress became an opportunity to refocus the company on our customers, and prioritize a smaller set of projects. Keeping the team energized and focused when everything feels like it’s falling apart was really hard, but I’m really proud of how the team stayed together and pushed forwards. After a couple years, we were able to get the business and company growing again, we rebuilt a lot of the platform, and built some really important new products to make Twitter easier and safer. Going through tough times shows you and your team what you’re made of, and brings you closer together.

What was one of the most powerful lessons you learned in scaling your business at Twitter that you will apply to our work at Grand Rounds?

The importance of regular customer feedback. Twitter is a place where people go to talk about what’s happening and what they think, and they weren’t shy about telling us what they think! Especially as a leader at the company, I would get comments, suggestions, criticism, and feedback from our customers on an almost daily basis. Sometimes the feedback is really tough, but it’s always valuable. In addition to walking away with thicker skin, the experience taught me the value of direct, ongoing feedback to continue to rapidly improve product development and enhance the product experience.

At Grand Rounds, our members turn to our service when they feel most vulnerable and are seeking personalized support in critical moments in their lives. There are few other areas where delivering a smooth, easy and effective experience feels more important than in healthcare. While it has always been part of Grand Rounds’ process to invest in deep and thorough user research, one of my near-term goals is to build out more ways to engage in direct communication with our users, to increase the rate that we can learn from them.

What practices have helped you to hone your craft over the years?

I’ve learned the most from the people around me – friends and the people I work with – through conversation and watching how they work. I also learn a lot from people I don’t know, through books or following people online (on Twitter, blogs, newsletters, etc.). There’s a lot you can learn from following the ideas and methods from the best people in your field, but there’s even more that you can learn by finding new perspectives from people from entirely different backgrounds and fields.

I try to stay very curious to new ideas and methods, try applying them to my work, and keep what works for me.

Why did you choose to join GR?

I’ve worked on consumer internet and mobile products for all of my career – That has been a lot of fun, and it’s amazing to see how much impact designers have had on consumer technology over the last 10-20 years. We’ve all become very used to being able to easily talk to our friends, get the news, buy clothes, order a car, or get food delivered all with a touch of a button on our phones. Over the last couple years though, I’ve been becoming much more interested in working on problems where technology is still relatively nascent and the experiences aren’t well designed.

Last year I was suddenly thrown into one of those problem areas when I was diagnosed with cancer. I got an up close view of the US healthcare system, and felt very intimately what it’s like to be a patient in that system. To say that there is room for improvement is a massive understatement, and I started looking for companies that are working to improve healthcare.

I decided to join Grand Rounds for a few reasons. First, for its mission and ambition. I wanted to join a company that will have a big, positive impact for as many people as possible. By working with some of the biggest employers in the United States, I believe Grand Rounds is positioned to do just that.

Second, its focus on improving health outcomes for its members. Healthcare is complex and the last thing I wanted to do was join a company that was going to make it more complicated for people. I’ve experienced first hand how hard, scary, and expensive it can be to work through a health problem; the empathy I saw from the Grand Rounds team to help their members improve their health, reduce stress, save them time, and save them money was really inspiring.

Finally, I joined because of the people. Every person I’ve met at Grand Rounds, all the way up to our CEO, has been incredibly kind, friendly, smart, humble and passionate about the problems we’ve set out to solve.

What do you think is particularly interesting about the design challenges at GR?

There are a lot of good and important design challenges to solve at Grand Rounds.

Health is often something that people don’t want to think about until they have to – and that’s when it can quickly become complicated and expensive. How do we help people be more proactive about their health needs?

Health care is very personal. As a technology company, how do we make sure we’re building trust with our Members and provide a very human experience in the services we build?

We serve an incredibly wide range of people, from all kinds of backgrounds. How do we build services to help as many people as possible, while making sure we’re meeting the unique needs of each and every individual?

We have vast amounts of data on health care. How do we turn that into actionable insights and recommendations for our Members, to help them improve their health?

And finally, the health care system is very complex. It can be intimidating and time consuming. How do we make it feel simple and supportive?

What is most important to you in building a top-notch design team?

When building a Design & Research team, I look for people that are humble, ambitious, curious, and will bring a unique background and experience to the team.

I look for people that are passionate about their craft, who are always looking for how they can learn and improve. I look for people who take pride in their work, and who want to share their skills and knowledge with others.

And most importantly, I look for people that are focused on understanding and helping the people that they are designing for.

What is the #1 thing you hope to improve in the lives of our members?

When you’re struggling with your health, it can be a very lonely, confusing, scary, and stressful experience. I want to help take away that stress and burden. I want our Members to feel like they have a team behind them that will help them get to better health, every step of the way.

Are you ready to change the way people experience healthcare? Are you ready to learn from and with great leaders like Mike? Check out our open roles today!

Mike Kruzeniski Bio

Mike studied Industrial Design at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver, Canada, and has a Masters in Interaction Design from the Umeå Institute of Design in Sweden. Over the past 16 years he has worked as a designer at technology companies including Nokia, Microsoft and Twitter. At Nokia, he was on the Insight & Innovation Design team that was responsible for designing and prototyping new product concepts for Nokia. At Microsoft he worked on mobile products (Windows Phone 7 & 8) and software platforms (the “Metro” design language), designed new mobile phone concepts, and helped to build their Design team culture and style. At Twitter, Mike worked on every part of the consumer Twitter experience, led multiple platform redesigns, and helped grow and lead the Design & Research team from ~15 members to a global team over 125+ strong.

Most of Mike’s career has been driven by a passion for communication products and technology. More recently, he’s become interested in how Design can improve Health and Climate, which is what led him to Grand Rounds. In addition to his role at Grand Rounds, Mike advises a startup called Afresh Technologies, which is building a platform to eliminate food waste in the grocery system and also works with a partner on Climate Capital, a fund that invests in early stage startups that are building technology to fight or mitigate climate change.