Episode 1: Creating systems to diversify and scale your UX team

Headshot image of Parisa Bazl along with the title of the episode.

Mark Baldino is the host of the UX leadership podcast and the co-founder of Fuzzy Math, a UX design firm. In this first episode, he interviews Parisa Bazl, the head of User Experience at Commvault, an enterprise data protection and data management software company. Bazl’s work focuses on scaling the impact of UX teams within an organization while also promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the design community. She has been able to bring people with non-traditional backgrounds into the design field through a training program using a unique combination of system-level thinking and frameworks.

About Our Guest

After studying Information Science in graduate school, Parisa has worked in UX for 12 years and now leads the team at Commvault Systems.  Much of her leadership work is focused on scaling the impact of a UX team within an organization while also opening up opportunities for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the design world.  She enjoys living in New York City, traveling outside of it, and working with people who bring out the best in each other.

Topics Covered

1. UI and UX design
2. Digital product strategy
3. UX design operations
4. Growing and scaling a UX team
5. Hiring and recruiting for UX
6. Diversity and inclusion in design
7. Best practices for UX leadership

Resources & Links

Connect with Parisa on LinkedIn 

Connect with Mark on LinkedIn

Diversify and Scale Your Team by Making UX Design More Accessible


Mark Baldino  0:00  
Hello, and welcome to UX leadership by design, the podcast by and for UX design leaders. I’m Mark Baldino, your host. This podcast is and always will be brought to you by Fuzzy Math, the user experience design consultancy that brings consumer grade UX to the enterprise. Fuzzy Math provides digital product strategy, UI design, and UX design operations to life. I’m also a founder so I’m a bit biased.

Today we were lucky enough to talk be talking to Parisa Bazl, the head of user experience at Commvault, an Enterprise Data Protection and data management software company. Today’s conversation is a gem, spoiler alert. If you’re a design leader, and you’re struggling to grow your design team, while staying within budgets or working on your hiring, freeze freezes, please listen. Much of her work is focused on scaling the impact of a UX team within an organization while also opening up opportunities for diversity, equity and inclusion in the design world. Her solution combines system level thinking and frameworks, what she refers to as an “object oriented design approach” with a training program that is bringing folks with non traditional backgrounds into the design world. It is impressive, to say the least. So I’m very excited for the conversation. And let’s go…

Mark Baldino  1:14  
Welcome, Parisa, and thanks for joining me on the UX leadership podcast. How are you today?

Parisa Bazl  1:19  
I’m doing well. Thank you. How’s it going with you?

Mark Baldino  1:21  
I’m doing well. I was just saying you’re based in New York City. And I was out there this past weekend for sort of, I don’t know, it’s an idealized fall weekend. So it was really, really nice to be out in New York City again.

Parisa Bazl  1:32  
Yeah, it’s always great when the weather makes it nice. You know, it’s like one rainy day and you’re like, “What am I doing here?”

Mark Baldino  1:39  
I have some clients coming up to Chicago in a month. And it’s like we originally listed over the summer schedules didn’t work. And I just said, we were really rolling the dice with an early November. Thursday, Friday in Chicago, but it’ll be good to have them in, in person and, and see them in person. I have been working with them for a year, and I haven’t yet and I’d love to get to that maybe shift in in how remote work has changed over time. But we’re wondering if you can give kind of a quick background on how you got into UX, what that journey was, and then what was the time you were either ready to or maybe someone said, “Hey, you’re ready to kind of shift into a leadership role from you know, going from a UX practitioner to a UX lead?”

Parisa Bazl  2:20  
Yeah, totally. So I think like a lot of people in the field, I had a very roundabout way of finding my way into UX. When I was an undergraduate school, I studied medieval and early modern literature. So I did a lot of Dante Shaw, Shakespeare, Chaucer, you know, and I was graduating, and I was kind of freaking out, because I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with that I didn’t want to stay in academia. And I knew I wanted to live in New York City, actually. And so just kind of being the child of immigrants, like I needed, like a little bit of a safety net. So I went to grad school at Pratt Institute. And initially, I focused on library science. So that was kind of like, I thought, maybe I’ll work in a museum or an archive. And library science is all about how do you store and retrieve information in a physical setting? And I did a semester of that, and I absolutely hated it. And so before, I totally, you know, dropped out, and you know, just regrouped, I was like, you know, there was a couple of classes in this sister track on Information Science, which was how do you store and retrieve information digitally. And right around that time, I ended up really liking those classes. And right around the time when I was graduating, UX, while it had been around, I think it was sort of a newly defined field, it was definitely getting a little buzz worthy. And so my timing actually worked out really well. And I graduated from Pratt, with a degree in information science, I’d had some portfolio work from school. And then I just started, you know, hocking my wares out on the streets of New York, and I landed like, small job at a startup, but not too long later, I found my way into enterprise software. And I think I got a majority of my sort of early career training at a company called Infor, which was business software. So I’ve sort of specialized in enterprise software since then.

Mark Baldino  4:19  
And then you’re currently the head of UX at at Commvault.

Parisa Bazl  4:23  
Yes, currently at Commvault Systems. So we do data backup and protection, another enterprise company. Basically, we help people like say, I have all this data over here, I want to make copies of it in case of a ransomware attack or, you know, regulations or anything like that. And it’s been a really great journey. You know, I think I was sort of the first person I was really kind of tasked with integrating UX and design as a core discipline at a historically very engineering led organization. So that was appealing to me when the challenge came along, because at Info in for it being a merger and acquisition based company, I was sort of first confronted with these challenges of, you know, scale, of trust building, you know, recently acquired companies, there’s definitely a lot of mistrust. Portfolio of over 200 products and a small design team used to figure out, you know, how do we scale best practices across industries across products. So I did a lot of learning in those five years, I was there, and I had a small break after that. But when Commvault came along as kind of consulting, and when Commvault came along, I was like, oh, this seems like sort of some ripe ground to test out a lot of design theories around, you know, scale, and just integrating it as a discipline. Like I said,

Mark Baldino  5:49  
What was that pivot from? I, I’m a practitioner of design, applying that skill to either I want to be a UX lead, I want to grow a team, was that a shift in companies or within one? And was that something you realized you wanted to do?

Parisa Bazl  6:07  
Well, I actually, I went from a designer, up to senior management when I was at Infor, and I’m not so keen on management, I don’t actually believe that people really need to be managed, I think people need to have some understanding of strategy and why they’re being asked to do things and also feel empowered to inform it. For me, management is a necessity, by way of like, if you want to sort of lead in terms of vision and strategy, which have always been the things that have appealed to me, it’s like, I see design as sort of a fundamental business practice. And there’s sort of an emphasis on business there. So how do you fold it into a broader product development strategy in a way that makes it appealing not just from like, the quantitative numbers, but also just kind of as a compelling place to work for the talent that you want? So at Infor, you know, as the positions opened up, you know, I was either referred to them or or applied for them. And so it sort of was a organic evolution, I would say there. And then having learned as much as I did, and ending up the title that I did there. Commvault came along, and it was, as I said, the kind of like a means to implement a design framework. And I think that, you know, frameworks of scale and efficiency are ultimately what appealed to me and having a clear vision of that. It sort of lends itself to leadership roles.

Mark Baldino  7:42  
Yeah. If I go back to that comment you made about you don’t, I don’t want to misquote you, but don’t fundamentally believe people need to be managed, when I think bigger enterprise companies like, Did you run into resistance? Do you work around that? Did you just avoid, like traditional people management, like, responsibilities? And somebody else handles that? Like, it would, from the outset seem like it wouldn’t quite work in a big enterprise organization?

Parisa Bazl  8:08  
Yeah, I mean, at the end of the day, there’s things we like more about our jobs and things like that I don’t, you know, like, I would say that, you know, having to fill in like, these, you know, HR things around, like, tracking objectives and stuff like that, I prefer for it to be organic, discussion based conversations that I have with team members, you know, and for us to be working together as a unit. So that’s more of what I mean is like, I, I really believe that people have all of, you know, the means and the willingness to bring as much value as they can to an organization, it’s not necessarily an all consuming, like, my job is my life thing. But I think for the most part, like, I want to make sure that people enjoy their work, because I think if you enjoy your work, then you’re going to bring your best foot forward. So it’s more about creating the environment for that. With management, it’s kind of like, I guess I’m thinking of the word. Very, you know, strictly like I don’t think like you need to manage people. I think if somebody comes in junior, and they want to grow, and they want to learn, then you need to think about where can I give them these learning opportunities and things like that, but I don’t know that I you know, I believe in sort of, like staying on top of people for the small things, but it’s more like how do we set up a framework for the organization that, you know, sets up all different people of all different levels for success, so that some of the things that you sort of traditionally think you have to manage actually sort of just get resolved in the neck and isms of, you know, of just kind of like your team operating within the constraints that you’ve said?

Mark Baldino  9:43  
Was it the role at Commvault? Of how Commvault structures things that you felt like this is a good fit for frameworks, and I’d love to dive into you know, how you define frameworks, whether we’re talking about, you know, people frameworks, career maps and ladders for your team. Or design, you know, operations frameworks and design systems do you and maybe ancillary to that is does that feel like it fits more in this, like enterprise b2b space, then maybe in the consumer facing space?

Parisa Bazl  10:14  
Enterprise versus consumer, I think that there’s somewhat less debate, I guess, in some ways, like I think that with enterprise, sometimes the constraints that you’re operating in lend themselves to creativity a little bit more like you sort of, you know, that this is ultimately what the product is offering, you know, that there are some core things that people have to do everyday or like have to use the product for. So I think that research, while there are some challenges in the decentralization of it, and the fact that like, you have product managers who are like, very much experts in you know, the day to day tasks of people who are Kubernetes admins, for example, like that, there’s sort of those different inputs that you kind of have to figure out how to manage a little bit like you don’t really, you can’t really operate in this full like, beautiful end to end Oh, research all the way to design cycle, right. So I think that enterprise kind of lends itself a little bit more to like, setting up specific sorts of design methodologies like in order to enable this collective goal of rapid delivery. Like we have to, in some ways, position ourselves as a service provider to developers and product managers. And that’s not to say that we don’t make calls on like best practices, or like what constitutes a good design versus not. But I think that a huge chunk of the day to day things that the team has to do, are more, they’re not as heavily reliant on like root full research and understanding, like we sort of do those outside of a product development cycle. How are people troubleshooting things? Like, what are the different, like, things that they look for in order to discover where an error is, right? It’s not tied to a specific feature delivery within our cycle. And there are certain things that we know a lot about, we have a lot of internal expertise around, and we just sort of have to figure out what’s the proper design for that. So setting up efficiencies of scale in that aspect of the organization, I think, is sort of where we’ve had a lot of success.

Mark Baldino  12:37  
That’s great. So maybe some basics, how big is your team? You mentioned sort of acting as a service to, you know, maybe maybe product, but also sort of development engineering? Like, what’s the size of the team? Where is it within the organization? And I, you, you alluded to how you you serve the team, but is it like a shared service? Or do you have versus maybe a deeply embedded less horizontal organization? What’s the setup?

Parisa Bazl  13:11  
Yeah. So right now, as I’ve been a Commvault for almost four years, I spent the first year heavily observing kind of like how everything was operating, learning the product, that sort of thing, and figuring out, you know, forging relationships and figuring out how do I really set this team up for success. There’s been a few designers here prior to me beginning, they were reporting into different development teams, so there wasn’t a centralized practice. So we have since scaled to a total of 11, headcount. Some are developers, we have a person who coordinates a lot with our front end team, she has a lot of CSS expertise, JavaScript, etc. And so she’s been working on the internal tooling around our component library and things like that. And then we have designers that are sort of engaging on you know, we’re building this specific feature or building out this aspect of the product. And so we have designers engaging in that way. And then the team’s you know, my intention always as a leader is to set up the team as a triangle. Again, just going back to the idea of this being a business practice, as well as like, you want to pay people the right amount, but you want to pay the right amount of people, right. And so we have three, like fairly senior level designers, who effectively manage other people as well. And they do build out screens too like, especially for the more complex projects, like building out prototypes and things like that, but we had this need really, as I was saying before, about like, sort of servicing these other departments. And we really needed to figure out you know, how can we generate high fidelity prototypes as rapidly as possible, because what I’ve found is that within the product development cycle, when you’ve got developers and you’ve got product managers and even test people coming in sometimes salespeople, it’s like, this idea of requirements. It’s a very kind of, like, abstract idea, you know, like people write out requirements, different people, I would, I would wager a bet that everyone listening to this podcast has, like, probably gotten different variations of requirements, even within the same org or from from the same person. Yeah. So right, like so you know, and when you write stuff down, you know, it’s also you still leave a lot of room for interpretation, like the user has to be able to initiate a configuration, well, one person might put a button somewhere like one person, you know what I mean? Like, it just can be visualized very differently. And with developers, I draw the analogy between like real estate and software, like it’s not an accident that we share a lot of the same terminology, and there is no real estate developer that will agree to build a building, if they do not see the architectural design of that building first. And it’s the same thing with our software developers is like, especially at Commonwealth is like, they want to see it in order to really understand, you know, obviously, there’s some backend work they can do in the meantime. But in general, even seeing like a specific label of a form field, they know, oh, I’m gonna have to make an API call, or I’m gonna have to make a back end commit after this step and the wizard, right. So I share this goal of wanting to deliver as many well designed features as possible within a certain release, as the product managers do, as the developers do. And one of the ways that we can enable that is to figure out how do we sort of infuse our best practices into our design system, so that we can generate these prototypes as rapidly as possible. So when I was scaling the team, the need really was less in the senior design area and more in like, kind of the manpower or woman power person power of, you know, creating these prototypes as rapidly as possible. So you’re naturally looking for, for more junior people.

Mark Baldino  17:13  
Now, were you? Do you feel that the creation of UI, as you said, sort of as quickly as possible, it’s, we need to demonstrate what this looks like, for maybe senior level by hand. But you mentioned specifically like the people that are responsible for implementing this, because that’s going to kind of sell them on on the idea. I think a lot of people try to position the earlier part of the user centered or human centered design process around the research and strategy and see themselves as product strategists first and kind of UI designers. Second, is it something that you’re seeing just that your senior folks are able to handle? Or do you de emphasize that and, and really, you know, put your foot on the pedal towards let’s generate as much high quality high fidelity UI as we can as a group. And I don’t want to overstate either side, but I’m kind of curious, that balance between the research and product strategy and UI and design and design systems?

Parisa Bazl  18:09  
Yeah, we definitely don’t diminish that. I mean, before we do any kind of prototyping, at the very least, we need architectural documentation. So it’s kind of like mandatory, I guess, in some cases, like, always start with your user flows. And some sort of like data structure mapping. So we always start there, you know, it’s also just a really good anchor for the initial cross functional conversation as well. Because if there’s technical dependencies or something like that, it’s a visual asset that, you know, the different disciplines can also refer to and comment on. We do our research, like, there’s a lot of second hand research that necessarily, I think has to happen in enterprise, especially when you look at a company like Khan vault where like, we have resellers as well. So it’s, you know, sometimes we’re like three or four degrees away from our end user. And just to coordinate a feedback loop within a specific project cycle can be very challenging. One of the benefits of cobalt is that we do use our own software. So we have a lot of internal people that we can refer to, and we ask them to kind of like show us how they move through the application. Salespeople as well, I think in terms of how people demo products, that’s also very telling, because there’s a dedication to the end user as well as the business and the people who buy the software are oftentimes different from the people who use it. So we also want to make sure that we’re accommodating for those, you know, that type of user, that buyer as well. So and you know, we have product managers and support people that are also kind of talking to us about what are the issues that they see in this particular area of the product, like the types of challenges or tickets that are coming in from our users. So I guess I mean to say is that our research is it’s not such like this clean, pretty bow. that I think a lot of the discipline of UX sells itself on, like, Oh, you do research and then you have all your findings. And then you build your map, like, it’s, you know, it’s just in practice, it’s a little bit messier than that, I think the sooner that you have any kind of visual asset, and again, we don’t dive right into prototyping, we always start with some sort of architectural asset. But the sooner that you have that, the easier the conversations become to facilitate as well. You know, so I think, you know, more than anything, like we’re trying to aid the conversation, to completion so that we can all agree on like, this is what we’re going to build.

Mark Baldino  20:36  
Right. And that’s the, that’s the sort of the end purpose of of what you and your team are doing. We’re trying to visualize what we’re going to build, we’re trying to get internal. And maybe through, as you said, sort of sales and support, like external validation that what we’re doing is kind of moving the needle forward on, on, you know, the usability and user experience of, of, of the product. You alluded to, you’ve talked about systems, and you’ve talked about, you know, where your need was, from a resource perspective, a lot of people that I talked to, you know, will admit is a hard to find UX talent these days is very, very kind of competitive market. I loved your quote about, you know, you need to not just pay people the right amount of pay. What did how did you say you pay the right, pay them, Mister you because I pay? They’ll pay the right amount?

Parisa Bazl  21:25  
Yeah, yeah, hey, pay people the right amount, but pay the right amount of people.

Mark Baldino  21:30  
Yeah, that’s great. I mean, what challenges did you run into scaling? I think you’ve started to build out a pretty unique program to help with that scale, which sort of fits into your model of let’s be UI forward and kind of framework first.

Parisa Bazl  21:41  
Yeah, so the challenges, I’ve run into resource scaling, I mean, like, my first year at Commvault was 2019. So the second year was 2020. Right? So everybody was cutting budgets everywhere, I think that we’ve had frozen headcount on and off, you know, since then, another sort of passion of mine is like DEI within this field as well, you know, like, I, I have had, I could, like, give you a couple of attributes about all my managers, and like, you know, what I mean, like, and it’s like, I’ve had like, seven different managers, and, of course, my career and like, you can describe, like, they share a lot of similarities. I’ll put it that way, like, in terms of demographic. And so I have thought a lot about like, you know, how do you and as somebody who is hiring, like, how do you also sort of like invest in a more diverse pipeline? So I don’t think that those things are like, mutually exclusive, you know, and I’ve kind of always wanted to figure out, like, how do I scale my team in a cost effective way? How do I also like, sort of diversify the field, open up opportunities, and you know, things like that? So because, you know, our design methodology at Commvault, I call it object oriented design. And so that’s what kind of anchors our design system. So basically, like, when we have a use case come in, we look at it along three dimensions, like, what is the object of the data object? What are the attributes of that object that the user needs to define? Or see, or whatever it is? But what’s the user doing to that object? Are they creating it? Are they retrieving it? Are they updating it? Are they deleting it? And oftentimes, projects contain all of those things, but you think about your flows initially, like from that standpoint? And then is this the main object? Like, is it? Are we creating a plan within another, you know, broader object? Like, is it? Is it that object set of detail or a child so we sort of have this like, framework by which we can interpret the use cases, whether or not the use cases are valid, of course, is that deeper question or along research and coordinating with product managers and things like that, but once you have the use case, you can kind of feed it through this analysis. And it informs the way in which our components arrange themselves into patterns. And that’s really how we catalog our patterns. I have a long article about this. I can also like, you know, sentence, we can attach this podcast if people want to read more about it, but But what it did was it it made, you know, our, our sort of like logical framework for our design decisions very explicit. And so then we have this thought, well, you know, that means that it’s going to be really effective for us to onboard people, right, like in terms of understanding, oh, this is a pattern like this is your use case, we have a similar use case like this is the pattern for addressing it. And what we ended up doing earlier this year was we found a nonprofit to partner with. And so this nonprofit is called opportunities for a better tomorrow. And I came to the Chief People Officer at our company with this idea. There’s been a lot of support around Commvault and they do a good job of living their values. But I said listen, like this is the business need that we have. I have a very small team and as especially in proportion to the engineers and the product managers. And in the instances where we have really been able to upfront the design work to just sort of meet with the pm more immediately. Rather than writing out a whole word document we’re working on flows with them. We’re sort of showing the architecture to developers, like we have been able to deliver really key features like all the way through to test and deployment within three months. And so and that’s factoring in development dependencies. I mean, if you’re just looking at the time it takes to unblock dev so that they can actually begin obviously, it’s like much shorter, and whether or not they start is not as much of a problem. But like, so we sort of made the business case for it. So this is the need, right? Like I need to scale in this area, I have senior level people, I can put them on a lot more projects if they’re not doing the production work. And rather than say, okay, in the New Jersey area, the New York area, you’re looking at starting salaries like between, I mean, like 70 to 100,000, sometimes like for your more mid level people like, rather than say I need headcount in that way, what we did was like we have a very, you know, we believe that we can enable people very rapidly. And I found a nonprofit called opportunities for a better tomorrow. And opportunities for a better tomorrow they provide training to at risk youth. So typically between the ages of like 18 and 24, they have non traditional educational backgrounds, they meet a certain socio economic requirement. And OB t, what they do is they offer training in two ways. They have a marketing program, and then they also have an AWS cloud Practitioner program. So neither of these are designed programs, and the students didn’t have any design training. But the good thing about the AWS certification is at the very least, they have a fundamental understanding of like, computer and software’s and especially in Cobalts case, they understand what comp was a company does, we worked with OB T to recruit some students from their cohort. And the great thing was that will be T gets funding from New York City to pay for an internship in quotes. And so what we did, they will they said, Okay, we’ll pay for students 175 hours. And we said, We’ll take that 175 hours. And we will train those students in this time, so they’ll get a UX internship. So we worked through a curriculum, you know, not only just introduction to the company and the product, but also back in front end, again, they had a bit of a fundamental understanding of that, but sort of like, what is UX? And like, why do we think about it? Like, why is it important, as well as just very practical skills around figma. And we also introduced this object oriented framework so that they could start to see like, you know, okay, like, this is how I interpret my projects. Here’s how I like, use components and arrange them in a certain way in order to meet that requirement. And so we did that training over the course of 175 hours, by the end of it, they’re actually working on projects. And then the agreement was, were you like, Yeah, awesome. Yeah. And then the agreement was, you know, if they had sort of been able to, to learn all the necessary skills and stuff, Commvault would then offer them a six month $20 An hour full time contract. So they’ve been working with us full time now, for about two months. And our output has increased exponentially, like we’ve had some projects completed, you know, in terms of unblocking development, within like, five to seven days, sometimes shorter. Because again, like, the biggest thing is, people need a visual aid to anchor the discussion to sort of make sure we’re all agreeing when we say we’re building this feature to say like, quite literally, like, this is, you know, D feature, and this is how it’s going to be built as opposed to some kind of like, abstract, esoteric description of it or whatever. So that’s, you know, that’s been really effective for us, right is like, we’ve really been meeting some key business needs like very rapidly. And, you know, it’s cost effective for us, obviously, we do want to bring on these folks full time. And at some point, there’s macro economic factors at play. But the good news too, is that, you know, if these students they’re building up a portfolio, right, and so if there are other opportunities elsewhere, or there’s are other industries that they’re interested in, we know that it’s not high risk for us to have resource attrition because we already have like a operating model that we know for sure it only take us 175 hours to onboard somebody on someone else’s dime, no less. Right. So we kind of do all of like that’s another great thing about it is that you’re really Like vetting the resources? Well, in a very low risk way to your organization, we’ve dedicated the training time. But you know, truly, that was not problematic if you kind of time it right within a release cycle as well, like when things are more going into tests and stuff,

Mark Baldino  30:18  
you know, right. So you’re meeting the, the, you’re meeting the business need, you’re working within budgetary constraints. There’s like this, you know, diversity, equity, equity and inclusion, sort of, say, like an altruistic approach, like, it sounds pretty incredible. I do. I do want to commend you on the program, because I think a lot of people who might hear this and say, Wow, that seems like a ton of work. And I’m sure it is a ton of work. You’re, you’re you’re kind of describing it as though it all, it all worked out perfectly, which sounds like it is, but I’m sure there were some challenges and struggles along the way. But I just want to applaud you because I think a lot of people head in the opposite direction in terms of how they want to grow and build their teams. And I think you said you’re doing it in a in kind of risk averse way, right? Like it’s budget friendly. And it’s helping folks who have untraditional backgrounds get into the design field. I think sometimes see the people who lead design teams see that as a risk, right. They’re, they’re not getting the top of the market. And that’s what they want to fight for. Because that introduces an expert on their team. That’s why I don’t want to say, you know, that is a little less risky. But but your comment about, you know, attrition rates is is equally valid, which is you have a low cost way to onboard somebody onto your team that doesn’t put your delivery at risk. I think it’s a pretty amazing balance. Are there any points where you felt like, Oh, this isn’t working? We got, we got to rework something like or and it could you can tell me it was really smooth from start to finish, I’ll have fully believe you. But for folks that are thinking like, Hey, I don’t have a ton of headcount. But I might have some time to devote to this to start that pipeline. Any challenges? And then how long did it take from? Like, you think having this idea to the time you onboard those folks, two months ago?

Parisa Bazl  32:01  
First of all, thank you. Yeah, I, I’m really proud of it. We’re really proud of it as an organization. There’s definitely it hinges on the design methodology, because it’s the object oriented approach to design that makes this very effective. The analogy I always draw is like, I think design is a form of literacy. It’s a visual literacy, right? And if you were to draw the analogy between that and written literacy, like if you are given a task where somebody says to you, okay, Mark, there’s a ton of people in this world who don’t know how to read and write. So what are you going to do like you can you have carte blanche, you can do anything you want in order to make as many people literate within the shortest amount of time, you don’t like your biggest leverage point is not in opening up a ton of schools or trading like or getting a ton of instructors, the biggest leverage point is you change the way that you spell, because it’s confusing, right? Like, we have so many different symbol combinations for the same sound, the letter C makes one sound, if it’s followed by an R, it also sometimes makes that same sound, when it’s followed by a K, it makes a totally different sound if it’s followed by an H or an E, right? So if you develop like more of a one to one relationship between your symbols and the sounds that they make, then you make it that much easier for people to learn how to read and write. And it’s the same thing with design. I’ve seen multiple iterations of a sales order, a sales order is a sales order, right? Like, there’s best practices around these things. And it’s not an accident when you log on to any e commerce site that they share a lot of similarities. Because once something works, you know, it’s not to say that we can’t innovate on things, it’s just like, with, you know, transportation, it’s not really been in the shape of the car so much as it is in the engine. You know what I mean? Like, it’s just you have to sort of figure out what are you going to focus your resources on? So the biggest thing in terms of the actual timeframe for this was the training in object oriented methodology for my senior people. For us, like, you know, the timeframe in terms of actually initiating like having the idea for the project and stuff. I would say it probably came into con vault mulling on these couple of different concepts, scale DNI, that kind of stuff. But in terms of manifesting the project, we started having conversations with leadership in I want to say in like December to get like kind of approval, we got the initial budget approval actually coming out of our DNI budget, which again, if you’re to take a business, look at this, it’s also very effective for a company because like, you’re looking at tax credits and things like that, too. Like it’s, you know, it’s an easier sell. I think like for the initial iteration, we recruited the students. They came out of a June cohort, so we train them over the course it was like five hour days, and they ended their training August 12. They started with us full time, August 15. And we definitely had, you know, I, I actually I felt really confident about this, like, going into it. The other really great thing is that it gives career pathways for senior level people like that you want to keep at your company who want management experience, you know, and it’s like, okay, well, headcount is frozen in America. So we’re not gonna be like, I don’t want those people who leave, right. So it gives them career path, as well as like, it’s really like kind of multi dimensional on its benefits. And honestly, I think like, because of sort of the regular way in which we did check ins, and also the way we’re mandated to do check ins, because the money was coming from the city, like we sort of had a continual gauge on, you know, people’s performance and how they were doing and stuff like that. So if any concern was brought up by the senior designer who was doing the training, it was kind of easier to troubleshoot. I think the biggest risk is that you have to time it with your other projects work so that you’re not down like that senior headcount within that sort of couple of months.

Mark Baldino  36:03  
Fantastic. Are you exploring another cohort? Do you only bring about two people through? And hopefully about 443? And did all those take like the contract position with you folks?

Parisa Bazl  36:17  
Oh, yeah, yeah. Yeah, we’ve, it’s been great. Yeah, it really has they’ve, they’ve been awesome. And it’s all local economy, too, which is great. Like, it’s a really big thing with cobalt in terms of living their values. And it’s nice, you know, to not have to outsource things and juggle time zones, like our quality of work can kind of stay at a certain level. So we have had discussions at a high level about you know, whether or not full time stuff will open up and just kind of looking at a timeframe on that. I think that we would like to expand this program, there’s a couple of other organizations that were also looking at where they can fund shorter internship programs. But maybe we can bring those students back, like over the course of the summer and things like that. So I think it could really work with any kind of nonprofit, I think it’s super helpful that these kids came from OB t, in terms of the technical understandings, I do think all of that’s teachable. And I think it’s really more about is this an organization that provides them with the professional skills like, sort of just like general, like work life management skills, as well as having a resource for you know, I mean, like, you’re looking at folks who like, it’s a learning curve for them to know that you can like, Miss two hours of work from your nine to five and make it up the next day, right, like, so it’s just like, it’s things like that, like, like, just saying, like, Oh, you’re sick one day, and you can’t make it and you know, like, they have all of that support coming from OB t. So so that stuff is really helpful to us. Definitely.

Mark Baldino  37:52  
Fantastic. That is literally test again, the timeframe to have folks, you know, for folks joining your team, I think is, is accelerated as well. Now, you mentioned that there’s an article we can link to the object oriented design, do you is there content around the apprentice program that you all are sharing if people wanted to learn more,

Parisa Bazl  38:11  
we’re working on some content. So I guess if you want to kind of follow me on LinkedIn, you know, we’ll be publishing more think pieces and stuff like that about it, the actual article I was referring to is published by discount on their people nerds blog. It’s called diversify and scale your team by making UX design more accessible. So kind of a lengthy title, but very descriptive.

Mark Baldino  38:38  
It is descriptive. For me, the invite of folks to follow you on LinkedIn, I think people will, I think, hopefully learn a good bit about the program, you all set up at Commvault. And have grown and because I think there’s a lot of organizations that could benefit from from the knowledge there. And certainly link to your LinkedIn will link to the article you just mentioned on the discount blog. But I just want to say thank you for what you’re doing for designers in general and getting people with non traditional backgrounds into design. And as somebody who’s a, I think, a systems thinker, and a framework, thinker, you’re setting up a framework, whether you intend or not for other people to follow. And I think that that’s really, really impressive. But most of all, I want to say thank you for sharing your journey, what you’re up to with Commvault, the program that you’ve built, your your sort of thoughts around dei and design, it’s some great stuff. And I know the listeners will appreciate so thank you very much for your time.

Parisa Bazl  39:35  
Yeah, thank you. This was so fun. I love talking about this stuff. So anytime or anyone who wants to reach out and chat about it, by all means,

Mark Baldino  39:44  
well, it shows you have a genuine interest in what you’re doing and that definitely show So thank you very much for your time and we’ll wrap up yeah, thank you

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