Career Opportunity at Discover Bank

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I’ve recently changed roles at Discover and am working on building out my digital team. There’s already a solid group of professionals in place shaping a best-in-class banking platform, but we are rapidly growing and I need more help.

This is a Senior Manager role with three direct reports, reporting to the Director which would be yours truly. I have worked at Discover for almost 15 years. We have a terrific culture and are recognized as one of the best run financial services companies in the country. We have a great credit quality portfolio, are well capitalized with strong profit and stock performance (NYSE:DFS).

We are located in Riverwoods, Illinois, just north of O’Hare airport and have a Chicago city satellite office.

Job Description

  • This position leads a team responsible for developing and enhancing a best-in-class banking web interface for Discover Deposit products. This person will work closely with a peer to drive the current and future state of the user interface across all digital platforms. It is critical for this person to steer and coordinate cross-functional groups that include Product Teams, Marketing, Business Technology and multiple external agencies to create and deliver innovative, simple, highly functional and aesthetically pleasing interfaces based on user-centered design principles. This person should be keenly aware and passionate about emerging design and usability trends across web, mobile and tablet, as well as the evolving digital payments ecosystem.
  • The Digital Experience team’s primary role is to understand business requirements and goals, and then work with external agencies to develop wireframes and design comps that will deliver the business results with a superior customer experience.
  • The Senior Manager must be analytics focused and able to leverage web tracking to inform design and enhance functionality already in production. It is important to be able to weigh quantitative and qualitative data before design begins.
  • Time to market is critical. The candidate must be comfortable operating in an agile development environment and make strong judgment calls based on the information and alternative scenarios.


  •  Bachelor’s degree required. Specialization in human-computer interaction, graphic design, product design or interaction design is a plus
  • 7-10 years leadership experience in user-centered design, usability and development, preferably with a Fortune 500 company or leading digital firm
  • Seen as a thought-leader in creating best-in-class digital customer experiences for full site, mobile and tablet interfaces
  • Experience leading and/or observing user research and usability testing and translating insights into design decisions
  • Demonstrated ability to lead cross functional teams in the development of scenarios, workflows, site architectures, interactions notes, wireframes and designs
  • Experience in developing processes to manage complex activities
  • Demonstrated ability to translate business requirements into meaningful interactive experiences
  • Ability to effectively prioritize project requests based on clear methodology
  • Strong analytic skills and experience with web site behavior tagging and tracking
  • Effective communicator and comfortable with presenting to senior managers
  • Lean Six Sigma would be a plus.

We are an Equal Opportunity Employer and do not discriminate against applicants due to race, ethnicity, gender, veteran status, or on the basis of disability or any other federal, state or local protected class.

If you’re qualified and want to work for a highly respected company you can apply here.

How Many Agencies Does it Take to Screw in a Light Bulb?

Low_Energy_Saving_Spiral_Light_Bulb.jpg.gifI recently sat on a panel called Managing Multichannel Agency Relationships at last week’s Forrester Consumer Forum in Chicago. Sean Corcoran the panel moderator and Forrester Analyst took an interesting approach. He passed across a short list of questions for us to ponder a week ahead of time, but did little else to help us prepare. It was a pre-mediated strategy to spur more spontaneous dialogue. The two clients on the panel were myself and Tracy Benson, Senior Director of Interactive Marketing and Emerging Media at Best Buy, The two agency representatives were Chris Miller, Senior VP, Group Management Director, Digital with Draftfcb and Ian Wolfman, CMO at imc². It was quite an honor to be on the same stage as these accomplished professionals. The teams were even with Tracy and me sandwiched in between the agency guys.

What is a digital agency’s role in today’s multi-dimensional landscape? Is it more important or roughly the same as it’s been?

Putting advertising aside, there are more digital channels used by consumers than analog channels today (see graphic below). And the digital channels are newer, richer, more interactive and can be easily shared. This means your digital agency’s role is increasingly more important than ever before. The fact that technology powers the new digital channels has actually hindered exploration and adoption among the big firms. That’s because traditional marketers don’t fully understand these new channels and can easily become infatuated with the technology. Suddenly their cry becomes about the technology and that drowns out strategic conversations. “We need a Twitter stream! Get me an iPhone app, now!” Oftentimes these take the form of demands of traditional agencies or even interactive agencies who have no real depth of experience in either mobile or social.


Marketers should be engaging in proactive discussions with their current interactive agencies about emerging trends, and ask the tough questions about their on-staff talent, capabilities and experiences beyond standard web development. If they don’t have much, but you are not doing much, maybe it doesn’t matter. But I can guarantee you that some day someone in the C-Suite will be sending you an e-mail or dropping by asking you what your plans are in new areas of mobile and social. If you don’t know and your agency doesn’t know you are officially behind and your job and your business may be at risk.

The role of a digital agency in this ever-changing landscape should be a shifting from single threaded projects to multidimensional marketing ecosystems. Here is a list I think great digital agencies must be doing to meet this new challenge.

  • Expand the use of Personas, layering on mobile and social attributes
  • Move away from single-threaded design projects into a marketing and communication ecosystem
  • Fold in analytics and data more deeply and earlier on in the process
  • Use more iterative design, not an assembly line approach. More sketches before the formal design process begins
  • Help the client do something, not just say something
  • Constantly seek to get closer to the client’s marketing and brand strategy
  • Build out new skills within the agency team

Push your current agency to further educate and expand their staff skills. But you have to be committed to this new world as well. Learning and growing together can be a very good thing. If you are about to change digital agencies, include the topics of mobile and social skills, as well as channel integration experience and the points above high on your discussion list.


What makes a successful interactive agency-marketer relationship?

The same thing that makes any relationship successful; working hard at it. I had my first encounter with an agency when I was running a chain of bookstores in the 1980’s. I have always viewed my agency as an extension of my own staff. That mindset alone puts everyone on a better path. Make them a partner. Bring them into your strategic discussions and connect them with other key players around the company. Some feel that if others around the firm are going directly to the agency, then somehow control is being lost. Not true. It probably means overall that more is getting done. If you have interactive agency responsibility at your firm you need to provide guidelines and standards to both the agency and your company peers. Use the agency as outside validation to help elevate the digital IQ in your own company.

Have relationship reviews twice a year and make them frank discussions. I have three big buckets; efficiency, style and vision. Most things will fit nicely into one of those. Identify issues, but bring solutions yourself, and keep an open mind.

What are the pros and cons of working with one consolidated agency vs. several specialist agencies?

If you are a big brand you will absolutely have multiple agency relationships, no doubt about that. There is a need for big firms to get lots of things done in many areas, and the communication across departments is still sorely lacking (yes, as shocking as it may seem, silos still exist). People will go to all the trouble and work to get a new agency before they go around the company to see if an incumbent can do the job; amazing. It’s about the number of agencies, although I think fewer is better, it is about who you select.

  • Choose agencies that compliment your business and other agency models and cultures
  • Provide guidelines to everyone and be crystal clear who is leading
  • Have them present together so no one over reaches on credit
  • Connect agency personnel up and down levels and across disciplines

One thing I would steer away from are very small, specialist agencies that will struggle to hold their own in the C-Suite or with high-powered talent from the big guys. If you are hiring an agency for one small, unique initiative and don’t plan on introducing them to other external partners, think again. The interactive marketing world is highly integrated today, so if your project isn’t connected it will probably fail. Don’t create more silos, we have enough thank you.

How has social media changed the landscape and what is the role of agencies in this space?

So much has been written and said about Social Media the past year or so that I am not going to address any of that here. If you are reading this you are fully aware of how Social Media is changing things. Whether or not your company is taking is another matter entirely. When it comes to the digital agency and Social Media my position is that they should be learning and doing side by side with you. Social is about being transparent and genuine, it is intimately linked to your brand. There is no better way to get started than with the agency that knows your brand, understands digital and can execute on technology (See the answer to the first question above). I would give your current digital agency a try before looking for a specialist.

Social Media is not a project, it’s an interactive marketing tool that can influence brand perceptions, and it’s too new for anyone to claim deep expertise. I know many will disagree with me on that point, and that’s fine. In fact I would argue that the most effective Social Media can only be done by the brands themselves. Think about it. Would you offshore the essence of your brand? Wouldn’t you want to be the ones talking about your brand? But first we have got to get the silos talking.

So, how many agencies does it take to screw in a light bulb? Probably not as many as you think. More on this later.

Please chime in on this topic.

Read my summary of the 2009 Forrester Consumer Forum here.