The VP of Design role at Khan Academy is a straight shot at applying your design leadership skills in service of a more just and equitable world. Our brand and products are truly making a difference in the way that millions of students experience and perceive learning – not only as individuals using devices, but as ecosystems of communities with teachers, parents and districts, and as collective social experiences in the classroom.
Khan Academy is a not-for-profit, and our funders care just as much as we do about our positive impact, efficacy, and leveling the playing field in education. At the same time, we pay competitively because we believe that the work should be rewarded according to its value, and the opportunity to take this job should be open to everyone who is qualified.
Our mission is to provide a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere. We approach it with a spirit of humility and thoughtfulness about how technology is best positioned to help.
What you’ll do
- Lead the design team! You will:
- Be responsible for the overall quality and direction of design, brand, research, and writing
- Build and nurture a healthy and inclusive team culture
- Recruit, hire, and keep the team connected to the greater design community
- Support career and skill growth, and manage team performance
- Guide the development of smooth design operations and process
- Provide product team and brand leadership. You’ll collaborate with other VPs to:
- Steward the direction of our products, which include experiences for students, teachers, district administrators, parents, content creators, our international network of translators and localizers
- Ensure that the cross-functional product team has what they need to be successful
- Shape the expression of our brand and our users’ stories for marketing campaigns, philanthropic efforts, donor experiences, and PR
- Collaborate with senior leadership to:
- Support the entire organization for cultural, operational, and strategic success
- Steer our overarching strategic direction to ensure long-term sustainability
A good candidate must have
- A proven track record of creating product vision and strategy for high-quality products in collaboration with cross-functional partners.
- Experience leading multiple design initiatives of product-sized scope, and the wisdom to have learned from those experiences. This tends to imply at least 10-15 years of experience or more in design, but the wisdom drawn from multiple lived experiences is more important than exact number of years.
- A spirit of service, humility, introspection, self-awareness, ability to articulate a strong point of view and guide with it, and a dedication to diversity and inclusion with results to show for it
- Fantastic ability to communicate, collaborate cross-functionally, inspire, and rally a team through storytelling
- Proof of fluency and experience in design craft, process and execution across multiple platforms, directly through a strong portfolio or through other evidence of design leadership
We are a remote-friendly company, but due to the strategic nature of this role, we feel that physical presence in our Mountain View office at least three days a week is necessary for success.
In addition, an ideal candidate would have
- A history or evidence of high potential to attract talent and grow a team both in size and career
- Experience with accessibility and designing for a very wide array of audiences, including school-age children, teenagers, and young adults
- A passion for rapid iteration, creative prototyping, and service design for experiences that play out in physical spaces (such as classrooms!)
- A background or past experience working in education or learning
- A track record of working on at least one beloved consumer brand, either through product or marketing design
- A deep curiosity about how and why people learn
How to apply
- Attach your resume below
- Instead of a cover letter, please answer the following prompt in the space provided below:
- What burning questions do you have about this role?
- What makes this position particularly interesting to you?
- What is your experience managing managers?
We are committed to equal employment opportunity regardless of race, color, ancestry, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, age, citizenship, marital status, disability, or Veteran status.
About the team
Khan Academy currently employs around 200 full time staff, including the creators of our educational content. The product organization is around 150 people, including content creators.
There are currently 16 people in the design team. They come from a very wide variety of backgrounds, such as media (Vox), civics (18F), consumer (AirBnB, Square), enterprise (IBM), service (Starbucks) and the agency world (IDEO, 2x4). There are four design managers who each lead product verticals, and two functional leads, for User Research and UX Writing, respectively. The team is about 50% remote and operates in a very creatively remote-friendly way, with members in California, Washington, Oregon, Maryland, Texas and New York.
About the products
Khan Academy’s products serve a few major use cases:
- For self-directed learners, we offer Test Prep products such as our Official SAT® Practice, Official LSAT Practice, and very soon, free Praxis Test Prep for aspiring teachers in partnership with ETS
- For students, teachers, and districts, we offer solutions that support student learning in the classroom, and are shifting more toward a service design mindset
- For our content experts and vast network of translators and localizers, we make tools to build, maintain, translate and localize our library of trusted, standards-aligned practice and lessons that cover math K-12 through early college, grammar, science, history, and more
- For our early learners, we have a separate, independent team working on our Khan Kids offerings
- We also build interfaces for donors and parents.
A week in the life
Like any job of this nature, your weeks might change with the overall seasons of the year. The fall tends to be heavier in strategic planning, while the spring is heavier in execution.
That said, on average, you’ll spend roughly:
- One day a week on strategy and company stewardship
- One day a week on cross-functional product leadership
- One day a week on design direction or design processes
- One day a week on mentorship, people management
- One day a week recruiting or working on your own hands-on work
But I thought Khan Academy was videos on YouTube?
We are a lot more than videos on YouTube! You can take a look at our brand new logged-out homepage to see the latest, but in short, there’s a lot more going on than you may have heard about a few years ago. We’re tackling some fascinating design problems to reach the users we wouldn’t reach otherwise – we’re considering technology’s role in human-to-human interactions inside a physical setting: the classroom.
Our company values
Live & breathe learners.
We deeply understand and empathize with our users. We leverage user insights, research, and experience to build content, products, services, and experiences that our users trust and love. Our success is defined by the success of our learners and educators.
Take a stand.
As a company, we have conviction in our aspirational point of view of how education will evolve. The work we do is in service to moving towards that point of view. However, we also listen, learn and flex in the face of new data, and commit to evolving this point of view as the industry and our users evolve.
Embrace diverse perspectives.
We are a diverse community. We seek out and embrace a diversity of voices, perspectives and life experiences leading to stronger, more inclusive teams and better outcomes. As individuals, we are committed to bringing up tough topics and leaning into different points of view with curiosity. We actively listen, learn and collaborate to gain a shared understanding. When a decision is made, we commit to moving forward as a united team.
Work responsibly and sustainably.
We understand that achieving our audacious mission is a marathon, so we set realistic timelines and we focus on delivery that also links to the bigger picture. As a non-profit, we are supported by the generosity of donors as well as strategic partners, and understand our responsibility to our finite resources. We spend every dollar as though it were our own. We are responsible for the impact we have on the world and to each other. We ensure our team and company stay healthy and financially sustainable.
Bring out the joy.
We are committed to making learning a joyful process. This informs what we build for our users and the culture we co-create with our teammates, partners and donors.
Cultivate learning mindset.
We believe in the power of growth for learners and for ourselves. We constantly learn and teach to improve our offerings, ourselves, and our organization. We learn from our mistakes and aren’t afraid to fail. We don't let past failures or successes stop us from taking future bold action and achieving our goals.
We insist on high standards and deliver delightful, effective end-to-end experiences that our users can rely on. We choose to focus on fewer things - each of which aligns to our ambitious vision - so we can deliver high-quality experiences that accelerate positive measurable learning with our strategic partners.