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Katrina Alcorn is an 
inspiring, authentic, and inclusive product design leader who drives powerful
business results. 

Katrina Alcorn

This is me

I am a Global Product & Design Leader who leads diverse, high-performing teams on strategic product design and research initiatives from product concept to launch driving measurable business impact. My leadership style is dynamic, authentic, inspirational, and inclusive.

Key results:
• 5x increase in global ecommerce revenue
• 340% ROI on design thinking
• 10+% improvement in customer satisfaction and equal reduction in support cases
• Record number of design awards

My passion is to humanize technology and the workplace, and to empower people and organizations with design and design thinking. I have hands-on expertise in product design, CX/UX, design thinking, and innovation practices. And I have a track record of driving culture change and business results in high-tech, energy, financial services, and health care.

Most recently I led a global product design and research function as Chief Design Officer for a $20B software portfolio, managed a $130M budget, and drove significant improvements in NPS scores and adoption rates.

I'm also an award-winning author and sought-after speaker on topics ranging from design, AI, innovation, and women in leadership.

Building & Leading Large Global Teams  Product Design  Culture Transformation Design for AI 

 Public Speaking   

Growth-minded Leadership  

Katrina Alcorn

Featured Talks

I'm a frequent speaker at conferences and corporate events on topics related to Design, AI, Innovation, and Women in Leadership.

01

PANEL: Design's Next Chapter

Fortune Brainstorm Design | Macau

DECEMBER 2023

Are we experiencing a backlash against design in the corporate world? What does this mean during a crucial time when the tech sector is being reinvented with the explosion of generative AI? I discussed these questions in this lively panel at Fortune Brainstorm Design conference.


My message: It's not enough to hire a bunch of designers and hope for the best. Business leaders must create the conditions for design to thrive. That means taking on true culture change. It's not easy, but it's absolutely worth it.

Video recording>

03

FILM: Modernism, Inc.

Bread & Butter Films
OCTOBER 2023

Modernism, Inc. is a brilliant, feature-length, documentary film about the career of legendary designer, Eliot Noyes. Noyes founded of the IBM Design program in the 1950s, the same program that I led decades later. I was interviewed for the film, reflecting on what has changed, and what has not, in 60 years. Many of our designres were featured in the final scene. 

Video trailer>

02

KEYNOTE: Teaching AI to Work with Humans

UX India | Bangalore
SEPTEMBER 2023

 

Designing for AI requires new considerations and new ways of thinking. From the beginning of human history, our relationship with machines could be summed up as "We're the boss." But with generative AI, that relationship is rapidly changing to something more akin to a collaboration. What should this new relationship look like? What role do ethics and design thinking have in helping us design for AI? I address this and more in the closing keynote for India's biggest design conference.

Video recording>

04

PODCAST: Design Leadership 2023

Verified Podcast

OCTOBER 2023

Check out my conversation with podcaster Tom Scott about the State of Design Leadership in 2023. We talked about misconceptions like "design is too slow," how we tackled culture change at a giant tech company, improving design by taking on product management practices, and how to weather the challenges of driving culture change.

Listen>

INDIA CONFERENCE

I have a background in journalism
and my writing has been published in many local and national publications. 

"Good Design Is (Still) Good Business"
Medium post | November 2022
Read my rebuttal to Fast Company's story: "Why Corporate America Broke Up with Design." I argue that the real reason design has not lived up to the hype is the failure of both design leaders and business leaders to truly embrace the culture change required to make design successful. 

 
"The Process. The Politics. The Pitfalls. Preparing for an Executive Role at IBM Design"
Medium post | July 2022
While I was at IBM I led executive promotions of 13 VPs and Directors of design. I often got questions about what it takes to become an executive design leader. This blog post was my attempt to demystify the process.
"Handcuffed to Aliens: Developing Stronger Cross-functional Partnerships with Design"
Medium post | November 2021
One of the biggest changes I led at GM, Design at IBM was to create a healthier and more productive environment on our cross-functional teams. This blog post explains why that was so important. Later, after this was published, I started a Product Management Program Office and developed training for all PMs around the world to align their work with human-centered innovation practices.

 
"‘Maxed Out’ Author Thought Readers Would Critique Her Ideas. Instead, They Judged Her Choices"
The New York Times/Motherlode | Nov. 13, 2013
This is an old essay but one I am very proud of. I wrote it after The New York Times wrote a favorable review of my book, and then the online trolls came out in the comments. In this essay, I address the mysogyny in the comments and use this as an opportunity to explain why so many mothers struggle to get ahead in their careers. My essay ended up being one of the most viral for the New York Times parenting blog that year.

IBM Design Principal

"You have provided a master class for those of us who aim to be design leaders at the highest levels...I am sad that we are losing an incredible leader and advocate for design. But, I will not forget that in your first year, you took the time to have a one-on-one conversation with me...I hope you know that you have inspired the next generation of talent." 

Design Ops Leader

"Your fearlessness and standing up for what's right is inspiring! I've often thought your role would be an extremely hard – and sometimes lonely – position to be in. But you always handled things with transparency, authenticity, and grace. Thank you for all the genuine support and empowerment you've advocated for me and all the good work you accomplished here."

Conference Organizer

"Katrina: your talk was awesome! Wow—I think you really knocked it out of the park, blew some minds, whatever term you choose.  Lots of folks came up to me about it afterwards saying how great it was and a highlight of the course.  A few (former) skeptics came up to me and offered the “Well, I thought it was all bs—but after hearing her, this makes a lot of sense” sort of talk).  My own seminar had a fantastic discussion afterwards."
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