Executive Director (remote)
At the intersection of art and science, industrial design is a catalyst for commerce and innovation worldwide, ensuring that products, services, and systems we use every day are both functional and beautiful, from consumer products and packaging to medical devices, transportation systems, and the environment. The profession is rapidly evolving as designers grow increasingly multi-faceted with roles that often overlap with user experience design, interaction design, and visual communication. The Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) offers continuing education, a robust professional network, leadership opportunities, and career advancement support for our membership of 2,500+ designers. We advocate for the interests of our membership and the profession of industrial design at large, working with policymakers to promote legislation and regulations that support the profession, communicating the value of design to business and general public sectors, taking action to protect the intellectual property of designers, and serving as a trusted resource for accurate information about the profession. In this role, you will ensure that IDSA is a leader in advocating for industrial design and attracts members and partners by offering high-quality educational services and information, a community of support, and relevant programs.
As Executive Director, reporting to the IDSA Board of Directors, you will lead a 15-person multidisciplinary team and manage an annual budget of $2.5MM (with financial reserves over $1MM). You will oversee all facets of IDSA and our charitable arm, the Design Foundation, to ensure a focus on key strategic initiatives to strengthen the association, including board governance, membership retention and growth, strategic planning, strategic partnerships, team leadership, and financial stewardship.
IDSA gives members a voice in shaping the industry's future as it evolves with emerging technologies and changing societal needs, including sustainability, accessibility, inclusivity and diversity, humanity-centered design, and more. Through our collective efforts under your leadership, we believe we can advance the value of industrial design as a professional practice and solidify our 50-year legacy through the positive impact of industrial design on millions of people in the US and worldwide.
Key Focus Areas: How You’ll Make an Impact
- Board alignment. Evaluate, identify, and execute changes in organizational dynamics to help the Board of Directors more strategically and decisively allocate resources and develop, evaluate, and implement strategies for membership, financial growth, and overall organizational health. Improve the Board's ability to maintain consistent alignment around strategy, build consensus with a bias toward action, and follow through. Offer guidance to each Board member to help ensure the successful execution of their responsibilities and a satisfying experience in their respective roles.
- Creating value and growing membership. We want our members to experience a culture where they feel appreciated and empowered to contribute to our collective success. With a data-driven approach, research the future of the profession to develop a compelling value proposition to attract and retain members. Evaluate the market to identify future membership segments and align our programs and services with what design professionals need now and into the future. Set and track key metrics to measure progress on membership growth, retention, and engagement.
- Strategic planning and prioritizing. Work with the Board to adopt and execute an iterative strategic plan to ensure IDSA's future growth, including a system to track key metrics toward progress. Apply a matrixed approach across all functions and Board roles to execute the strategy, from vision and core objectives to staffing and contracting, to ensure all initiatives align with IDSA's vision and positioning within the field.
- Strategic partnerships. Nurture relationships with national and international investors, sponsors, and corporate partners to raise funds. Develop opportunities to cocreate with external partners on value-based programs that work toward solving issues in industrial design. Leverage partnerships with foundations and government entities to secure grants, utilize board connections to help with fundraising, and oversee all partnership-related communications to external audiences to ensure alignment with IDSA's vision.
- Team leadership. Determine the right organizational structure for IDSA staff to ensure teams are properly resourced and equipped to support the organization's strategic direction within a positive and supportive work environment. Evaluate staff to determine strengths and areas for improvement and develop processes to support their growth. Build the team with the skills for future programmatic needs and embrace technology to make programs more effective.
- Financial stewardship. Strengthen the organization's finances by carefully evaluating all aspects of the business model and making calculated investments to support growth over time. Increase revenue by determining the proper pricing structure for membership, expanding corporate partnerships, exploring other non-dues revenue possibilities, and forecasting the impact of developing or updating programs. Streamline internal operations to find efficiencies and cost savings and focus staff efforts on strategic initiatives that yield the greatest value for the organization.
Work Environment, Salary, and Benefits
- You’ll enjoy a fully remote work environment, leading a distributed team eager to shape the organization for the future of industrial design. Monthly travel is required to meet with key stakeholders to establish and develop strategic partnerships.
- The budgeted compensation range for this position is $200–250K base salary plus bonus opportunity.
- This position offers an outstanding benefits package with medical, dental, and vision coverage, disability and life insurance, 401K options, flex time, reimbursement for professional development, and more.
- Develop and curate the strategic vision and generate the business plan that drives the supporting marketing, financial planning, and resourcing activities.
- Provide leadership in planning, tracking, and implementing key initiatives that support the strategic vision.
- Guide the Board of Directors and Committees to work within proper governance and administration guidelines.
- Manage the IDSA headquarters staff; foster a positive and collaborative team culture; empower team members to achieve their best.
- Ensure the Society's compliance with all applicable laws and legal requirements.
- Build and maintain strong partnerships with other business and design-related organizations that can support IDSA’s mission.
- Increase membership growth, retention, and engagement.
- Increase the relevance of IDSA within the local and global design community.
- Ensure the success of all core annual programming, including Chapters, Sections, Deep Dives, International Design Conference (IDC), Education Symposium, International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA), Student Merit Awards, IDSA Awards, National Industrial Design Day, and Membership.
- Ensure the success of all core publications and content distribution, including INNOVATION magazine, email campaigns and outreach, social media, and website content.
- Ensure timely and meaningful communication with our membership, the design community, the business community, sponsors, etc.
- Ensure coherence with BOD through timely communications, collaboration, and information sharing.
- Build public awareness and advocacy for industrial design and IDSA in the design, academic, and business communities.
- Oversee the annual fundraising campaign for the Design Foundation.
- Significant experience in strategic planning and tactical implementation with the ability to conceptualize and execute visionary solutions and a successful track record in developing strategic partnerships.
- The capacity to advocate for design professionals and persuasively communicate about the future of design and IDSA with the desire to build knowledge about the profession and its history.
- Strong business acumen with a proven record of business innovation and successful revenue generation working with budgets over $2MM.
- Experience managing, motivating, and bringing out the best in a 10 – 15-person multidisciplinary team in a distributed/remote setting.
- Ability to manage professional and program engagement both in-person and virtually.
- Familiarity with emerging tools of the profession and a strong understanding of how technology is changing the landscape of design and can improve internal systems and programming.
Founded in 1965, IDSA’s roots stretch to the beginning of the profession and our members are some of the most celebrated industrial designers in history. We are a future-focused, dynamic organization that is focused on enriching our membership, advocating and promoting industrial design, strengthening industrial design education, and leading the most compelling design conversations, events, conferences, competitions, and awards in the world.
Industrial design is a growing profession with specialization in service design, UX design, experience design, education, and design research. We currently have 2,500+ members, and our annual revenues are $2.5MM. With close to 30,000 practicing industrial designers in the US alone, we envision an opportunity for organizational growth.
The Design Foundation was founded by IDSA in 2001 as our charitable arm, focused on increasing access to industrial design education and creating opportunities for young designers who are beginning their journey into the field. Through its focus on education as the starting point for a successful career in industrial design, the Design Foundation has distributed over $120,000 in collegiate tuition assistance over the last 20 years.
The two organizations are separate legal entities; however, they often work together and share commonalities with their programming and purpose. The Design Foundation focuses its efforts on K-12 through collegiate-level communities. IDSA supports aspiring designers' transition from higher education to professional practice and beyond.
Please submit your application by May 19th.
We encourage you to apply even if your experience is not a 100% match with the position description; we will consider people from a variety of backgrounds and career experiences.
Use the "Apply" button on this page or simply email your resume to Bob Corlett at firstname.lastname@example.org with “IDSA – Executive Director #2023-2764 SA” as the subject of the email.
Please note: The budgeted compensation range for this position is $200–250K base salary plus bonus opportunity.
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