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Associate Director of Product & Design At Burning Man

Location: San Francisco, California

Job Description


The Associate Director of Product & Design supervises a team of technical product managers, contributes as a technical product manager with their own product suite, and coordinates the functions of our design services team. They ensure that a holistic and caring approach is used to develop scalable and sustainable solutions for cross-functional and emergent needs of our unique organization. This role helps drive vision and strategy through stakeholder and community engagement for a diverse portfolio of technical products by orchestrating delegation of product management while balancing cost, allocation of resources, evaluation of off-the-shelf solutions, custom software development, maintenance, risk and compliance to be in line with organization priorities and vision.

The individual in this is a visionary product evangelist and a leader with excellent communication skills who is adept at negotiating cross functional executive level conversations and considerations. They have superb negotiation and supervisory skills and are able to help their team and organization leadership skillfully learn and navigate the complexities of collaborative prioritization and planning. They and their team develop long-term strategies and roadmaps for systems, scope initiatives for short and mid-term project work, develop prioritized detailed requirements and features, drive interdepartmental dependencies and business decisions, and manage project deliverables and stakeholder communications.

This position also oversees the manager and functions of the design services team as a key component of product development to ensure the team is positioned to create consistent, beautiful, effective, user-centered, and easy-to-use software solutions which delight our systems users, effectively engage a global community, and are informative to those curious to learn more about our growing global culture.

This role ensures that these key functions are being executed in the most strategic and efficient way possible, and provides mentorship to team members to support professional development of their skillset and provide assistance with their duties. This position uses strong communication and tracking processes to keep internal customers informed of and engaged in product and project progress.

The deadline to apply for this role is 5:00pm Pacific on Sunday, June 9, 2019.


Leadership of Product Management Team

  • Mentor and support a team of Technical Product Managers.
  • Ensure appropriate cross-functional engagement and collaboration with Engineering, User Support, Technology Operations and various customer teams.
  • Collaboratively define or refine the process, tools and standards used by product managers.
  • Ensures usage adoption and adherence for tools and processes by product managers and participating customer groups as necessary.
  • Collaboratively define or refine the distribution of product ownership by product managers for existing and emergent product areas.
  • Develop and maintain process to manage overall technical product capacity, strategic planning, and collaborative prioritization across the organization.
  • Assist in the development and ongoing management of product leadership groups made up of staff stakeholders and community volunteer subject matter experts.
  • Identify and manage opportunities for volunteer and intern contributions to product management.
  • Incorporate emergent organization-wide technical initiatives and strategies, such as data privacy or integration projects, into product roadmaps.
  • Manage development and measurement of Burning Man appropriate success factors for all products including metrics, culture and alignment with our Ten Principles.
  • Identify needs and champion for additional product management resources as necessary.
  • Stay current on relevant industry products, trends and strategies to inform overall technology strategy and vision.

Customer Partnership

  • Build and maintain a trusted, cooperative relationship with internal and external customers, organization leaders and strategic partners.
  • Use exceptional communication skills and mentoring capabilities to help design and drive process for collaborative cross-functional strategic prioritization of technology products.
  • Engage executive level and other organization leadership in strategic roadmap and capacity planning conversations as necessary.
  • Primary customer interface to engineering and design teams, or vendors on an ongoing basis.
  • Mentor the customer partners in relevant topics and technology, and listen generously in order to process and provide solutions based on the collective understanding of the end goal.
  • Coordinate consultative, innovative, knowledge sharing, and ideation sessions as necessary through the engagement of stakeholders including extended staff, volunteers, community members, regional contacts, and related subject matter experts from the Burning Man community.
  • Champion for the customer and users.
  • Work with communications, user success team and product stakeholders to develop plans and consistency for product related announcements or procedural communications.
  • Find opportunities for volunteer and community engagement throughout product lifecycle.
  • Solicit and review user and product feedback via formal and informal reporting mechanisms to determine product success and enhancements.

Product Management

  • Crafts technical product and program vision, strategy, goals and success metrics from stakeholder input and approved organization initiatives.
  • Determine and document product needs by integrating planning and brainstorming conversations, evaluating processes and software solutions, reviewing usage data and support metrics, observing and engaging users, performing market research and staying current on related industry and technology trends.
  • Recommend the scope and timeline of projects by writing and/or reviewing specifications and requirements; appraising new product ideas or changes, and working closely with engineering and solution teams to evaluate and determine appropriate solution approach using internal or outsourced capacities or vendor solutions.
  • Synthesize requirements, understanding different teams unique ways of working to find usage patterns across teams and converge on common solutions that scale.
  • Assist with business process analysis and process redesign as part of solution design.
  • Propose solutions to technical constraints using technical expertise and experience, and provide resolutions for escalated problems, and anticipated bottlenecks in the development cycle.
  • Contribute to or initiate collaborative impact evaluation, return-on-investment or cost benefit analyses as necessary to determine product priorities, roadmaps or retirement.
  • Facilitate collaborative prioritization of product requests amongst stakeholders.
  • Identify dependencies and manage all intra, inter, and 3rd-party dependencies.
  • Champion user adoption and can clearly delineate between the goals of the customer and users.
  • Collaborate with design and technical implementation teams to define and design solutions with the best user experience and efficient use of staff resources and time.
  • Ensure the creation or availability of instructional or help materials for new products or features.
  • Ensure the channels, content, and resources are in place for user support.
  • Collaborate with user success team to develop a support strategy as needed for on playa users.
  • Effectively able to integrate metrics and relevant data to inform product decisions.
  • Provide reusable best practices and lessons learned based on product knowledge and real-life implementation project experience.
  • Proactively manage and mitigate project risks, critical path, and provide impact assessment and prepare status reports or presentations to keep stakeholders informed of project status and issues
  • Stay on top of current and future technology capabilities as well as establish a seamless working relationship with customers, partners, management, services, operations, support, development and others as necessary.
  • Oversee project efforts to keep projects on schedule, on budget, and to specification.
  • Runs project related meetings and creates supporting documentation from: kick-off meeting, stand-ups, checkpoint meetings, and post-mortems.
  • Establish project timelines and milestones with engineering and solution teams.
  • Coordinate user acceptance testing, bug reporting, and training activities.

Coordination of UX & Design Function

  • Supports the leader of the design services group to ensure efficient and strategic coordination of design functions and resources as part of overall product & solution design.
  • Overall responsibility for the full user experience across all products.
  • Champions user-centered design and other best practices and their adoption within the organization.
  • Works with senior leadership of the organization to help steer strategic design decisions.
  • Helps define and evangelize why and how design adds value to the organization.
  • Works to strike a balance between business, technology, and design decisions.
  • Helps to build a user focused design culture within and throughout the organization
  • Defines and determines design quality metrics.

Other Functions and Responsibilities

  • On-site product evaluation, research and support will be necessary for products which serve operations in Black Rock City.
  • Collaborate to ensure support and training strategies are in place for on playa product users.
  • Other duties as required.


  • Learning – Pursues ongoing learning in their area of expertise, working to stay current on emergent knowledge, skills, and processes.
  • Documentation - Assists in the creation, publishing, and maintenance of process documentation related to their assigned duties.
  • Knowledge sharing – Helps acculturate and educate junior staff and volunteers in Burning Man culture and business processes.
  • Training development - Collaborates with the education team to develop training materials in their area of expertise, as requested.



  • Bachelor Degree in Information Technology, Computer Science, Engineering or related technical field or equivalent practical experience
  • 5+ years experience as a successful technical product or product leader
  • Proven successful experience in full lifecycle technical product management - from start to launch
  • Experience creating and deploying new product manager roles
  • Excellent written and verbal skills which demonstrate maturity, judgement, negotiation/influencer, analytical, and leadership skills
  • Must be a good natured, sociable, emotionally intelligent and responsible individual
  • Strong visual communication skills, proficient in diagramming and other presentation tools
  • Familiar with multiple software development and customer engagement processes, and comfortable using the one that will be the most effective depending on the team, circumstances, and project
  • Proven experience with more than one software development methodology and ability to apply and adjust processes as necessary to be successful in a dynamic, volunteer-driven organization with significant seasonal demands
  • Knowledge of, and experience navigating the full range of the software development life-cycle
  • Experience in delivering complex software product releases from ideation
  • Experience in systems integration and integrated solutions
  • Experience working in collaboration with and managing multiple vendors as part of solutions
  • High degree of business acumen and technical competency; ability to balance and bridge technology and business needs; project and product management
  • Experience writing scope, requirements and high-level design documentation
  • Excellent creative thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Excellent organizational, analytical, written and oral presentation skills
  • Exceptional experience translating requests and requirements from non-technical customers
  • Able to identify and assess technology solutions (built in-house with our engineering team, or in partnership with vendors) to meet needs
  • Can apply technical skills to all products and projects to improve performance and planning
  • Able to adeptly ideate or negotiate as needed with developers, data teams, solution architects, vendors, and all stakeholders
  • Amazing negotiation capabilities seeking outcomes moving the process forward with goodwill
  • Able to effectively resolve competing priorities
  • Strong facilitation skills that draw out the most from product users and stakeholders
  • Strong attention to detail with the ability to see the big picture
  • Perform risk management and change management on projects
  • Ability to work under pressure, meet deadlines, and handle multiple projects simultaneously
  • Drives acceptance and adoption with curiosity and active listening skills
  • Ability to prioritize among competing opportunities, balance consumer needs with business priorities, and articulate the rationale behind decisions
  • Maintains professional and technical knowledge by attending educational workshops; reviewing professional publications; establishing personal networks; participating in professional societies


  • Significant knowledge and experience within the Burning Man Project, organization and community and working environment.
  • Experience with enterprise software product management & worked with third party vendors to customize solutions.
  • Experience working with volunteers or as a volunteer.
  • Experience driving A/B or multivariate user testing.


  • Valid Driver's License and good driving record


  • Off-playa: Work is primarily sedentary in nature, no special demands are required.
  • On-playa: Work is primarily sedentary but will also include the need to find and meet with department representatives who may not be in the vicinity therefore this could include walking or using some form of transportation. Some of the work will be in outside weather conditions and will be exposed to fumes or airborne particles as well as possible extremes in temperature.


  • This is a regular, full-time position, eligible for benefits, working out of Burning Man headquarters in San Francisco, CA and in Black Rock City, Nevada.
  • Burning Man is an equal-opportunity employer.