Why I joined Asana: Catt Small, Product Designer
April 24th, 2020
Welcome to our monthly “Why I joined Asana” series! Every month, we talk with Asanas across teams and offices, to learn who they are and why they chose to pursue careers at Asana.
Meet Catt Small, Asana Product Designer, avid Dance Dance Revolution player, and co-organizer of the Game Devs of Color Expo in Harlem, NYC. Get to know Catt and why she chose to join the Asana team in New York!
What was your journey to becoming a Product Designer?
I fell into design because of a love of technology that was kindled at a young age. I learned to code when I was about 10 years old thanks to a dress-up doll game. In high school, I took a computer graphics class and loved it enough to take the class twice. After class one day, I stumbled upon an ad for an internship that was hiring teen girls as marketing consultants for large companies that wanted to target young women. That’s where I learned about design as a full-time practice.
I wanted to continue my design studies after graduating from high school, so I decided to major in Graphic Design at the School of Visual Arts. As one of few designers who also knew how to code, I decided to take on freelance web design gigs in order to pay for books and food—I ended up enjoying the work so much I decided to specialize in it! Partway through my college tenure, smartphones started becoming popular, so my career path naturally shifted from Web Design to Product Design after my first out-of-college job as an Interface Designer.
A few years into my career, I had the joy of working with Sara Kremer, who is now a Product Design Manager at Asana. We kept in touch and when she ultimately referred me to Asana, I was blown away by everyone I met. I decided to take the leap and I’ve been happy about that choice ever since. You have to seize opportunities when you see them!
Describe a typical day in the New York office
Firstly, the New York office is beautiful. It has amazing, sweeping views of the city and I love that even though many of us work on different teams like Sales, Engineering, and Product Management, we’re all friendly and know each other’s names. Even during the city’s shelter in place period, the New York office has stayed connected through group chats and weekly calls. I love the effort that my teammates and leaders have made to stay connected even as we’re apart, on both a work and personal level.
How do you use Asana in your day to day work?
I use projects to keep my team updated on the status of my design work. I’m an avid fan of combining the Boards view with the Rules feature, which allows me to move tasks across boards Kanban-style while completing work. Every two weeks, I write a status update that compiles the progress I’ve made so my team understands what I’ve been up to and has insight into how design works.
Another of my favorite Asana projects is my team’s decision log. We use it to document choices that have been made so they don’t get lost. Each decision is color-coded with custom fields according to its priority and theme, making filtering easy. This has been especially useful while we work from home, as sometimes people forget to notify the whole group when they make a decision.
What does Asana’s mission mean to you?
To me, Asana’s mission is about providing the clarity and focus necessary for teams to do their best work and make an impact on the world. A lot of tools are so complicated that we start to think more about how we use them than what we actually need to do. As a public speaker, I often share advice about this exact subject. I’m thankful to now have a full-time focus on helping people do more of the work that gives them purpose.
What’s your mantra and where did you first learn it?
Be patient. I am naturally the kind of person who likes to get things moving forward. However, as my parents always told me, good things come to those who wait. My entire career has been an exercise in knowing when to move quickly and when to proceed more methodically (e.g. when conducting in-depth user research). I’m thankful to have learned the value of time when it comes to both my role as a designer and my career progression itself.
If you could give a new Asana one piece of advice, what would it be?
Listen as much as you can. I often see people jump into a new role with the intention of contributing as quickly as possible. However, the best collaborators I know are the people who observe and ask questions more than sharing their own opinions. Asana is the kind of place that values consideration and thoughtfulness over bravado, which is one reason I’m so happy to work here!
One of Asana’s values is “be real,” and we aim to build a culture where everyone brings their whole selves to work. What does being your whole self at work mean to you?
Being your whole self at work means feeling safe enough to be vulnerable. Challenges and conflicts naturally arise when you work with other people. When I feel as though I can share my worries and be honest with my teammates, I am being true to myself. I feel very connected to the people I work with because I know I can share how I’m feeling without fear of judgment. I’m thankful that Asana’s values encourage people to create an environment of psychological safety.
Join our team
Come work with Catt and the rest of the Product and Design teams! We have open roles in New York, San Francisco, and Vancouver.