Interview with Suzanne Pellican


As a part of the journey to design-driven from the very beginning, Suzanne Pellican is an expert at fostering design within a company’s organization. She has been a part of transforming every corner of the company through the creation of Design for Delight — Intuit’s own breed of design thinking.

RSVP for a Coffee Talk with Suzanne

What’s your studio’s design philosophy?
We are driven by delighting our customer’s end-to-end experience. We take that very seriously in everything we do. It’s taken fundamental shifts in the way we look at our business to make sure our products exceed customers’ experiences in an emotional, evocative way. We first start with what delightful design would look like for the customer, then go build it. It used to be that we started with the technology first, but it has to be customer first to succeed. Our entire organization has been transformed to have customer-delighting design at the center. Whether in marketing, finance or product development, we are thinking about end customer experience first.

What motivates you to do great work?
It’s all about doing work that actually changes people’s lives. Whether it’s the power of TurboTax, QuickBooks or Mint, we’re getting to witness people’s financial lives change so profoundly that they can’t go back to their own ways.

In short, people struggle with money and using design to help people is meaningful to us every day. It’s not an an aspiration — we’re able to see the tangible outcomes every day.

Where does the team find inspiration? How do you keep the team inspired?
First hand from our customers. We have to make sure we’re always grounded. It’s so important that I constantly have to make sure that I’m holding myself and our teams to going out in the field and really see people’s lives. Otherwise it’s dangerous to start to think that our customers’ lives revolve around QuickBooks. You visit a seamstress in Ohio and find so much inspiration in that her life and business doesn’t revolve around QuickBooks.

What keeps you up at night?
We get in our own way. I find that really frustrating. We know what we need to be doing and I just want to keep asking how we can go faster?

What are three things you believe in right now?
1. Creativity lives in everyone who walks in the door.
2. Our mission and vision.
3. The power and process of creativity in design thinking.

What are you currently fascinated by? How is that feeding into your work?
I’m so interested in the shifts I have seen in design over the years. It used to be that design and designers were only found in agencies, and that’s just not the case anymore. I’m fascinated by the movement of that!

We’re seeing that the craft of design has finally been realized. It’s such a wonderful and passionate pursuit to make a difference in the products and services that are being created. There are a lot of fields that don’t have a craft, but I love that there is a craft and making in this world we’re working in.

What excites you about the future of design?
I am just excited to see how design continues to change our daily lives. I would love to see design permeate across every sector — more prominent in politics, public safety, our schools, airports (please!) — and not just in the products we buy.

How does San Francisco influence the work you do?
SF and the Bay Area are critically influential in how I think about design. The talent, perspective, and the up-leveling and outputs of the craft are incredible. Design really is everywhere but even more so in beautiful places throughout our daily lives San Francisco. SF is a lover of design.

What are studio’s tips for other designers out there who may just be getting started?
Jump in headfirst. Don’t be afraid to spend the first few years of your career jumping around because there are so many different opportunities today. Try product, agency, software — all of it until you find the place that feeds your soul.