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Melissa Sepe

Experience Design Principal

Describe your role as an Experience Design Principal.
As an Experience Design Principal, I work with our clients to understand their business goals and customers’ needs, and I lead multidisciplinary teams to create experiences that solve for those goals and needs. I also partner closely with our Engagement Managers to ensure that we are delivering positive client experiences and keeping our projects healthy and on track. My role involves a lot of meetings and presentations, but I also work hands-on with my team—whiteboarding, sketching, drafting copy, and whatever else is needed. Additionally, I help manage our New York City design team.

What steps did you take professionally that led you to this position?
I first became interested in experience design when I was studying for my master’s in education. I started out by prototyping and testing educational kids’ games for my coursework and internships. After graduation, I landed my first design job at a large digital agency in New York City, where I learned the basics from some very talented and kind mentors. I then bounced between in-house and agency settings before landing at Ogilvy in early 2014. My previous roles focused more on design execution than leadership, so I tried to develop my presentation skills and facilitation know-how through reading many, many articles and creating my own opportunities to practice. (I was also briefly a teacher before getting into design, so I draw on that experience—and my “teacher voice”—when leading workshops.)

What do you love most about your job?
It’s a privilege to help clients tackle big, transformative challenges, and I love working at a company that approaches digital change with a mindset that’s empathetic and compassionate but also analytical and pragmatic.

What is the best advice you have received?
If you have an idea, share it. Don’t be afraid to speak up even if you’re the most junior person in the room.

What’s the most meaningful impact you’ve made as an Experience Design Principal?
I spent a year working on projects for a financial services company, helping redesign a complex website and series of web apps. At the beginning of the first project, our stakeholders seemed skeptical about the human-centered design process, but they ended up becoming some of our best advocates. It was so exciting to eventually overhear one of our clients reassure a colleague about the value of user research.

What do you like best about working for Ogilvy?
Teams at Ogilvy enjoy a lot of autonomy, and while we all share advice and learnings with one another, there is no one “right” way of doing things here — we are an adaptable bunch. I also appreciate how collaboration isn’t just encouraged here; it’s expected. We don’t have traditional creative directors setting a vision from the top down — we all have to work together on solutions that are rooted in real business problems and user needs.

Interested in a career at Ogilvy?