Meet Kyra, Head of Product Design at Blacklane

Over the next few months, we’ll be introducing some of the incredible people who make up the Blacklane crew. First up is Kyra Edeker, who leads the product design team in constantly improving user experience across multiple platforms.

Blacklane's Head of Product Design Kyra Edeker.

Kyra has been working as a user researcher and product designer for more than 20 years. She’s worked across multiple industries, from finance and healthcare to manufacturing, with the single drive to improve some small corner of the world.

In 2016, Kyra joined Blacklane to take on a new set of challenges as a product designer in the mobility sector. We sat down with Kyra to learn more about the work she does and how she has developed her career so far.

Can you tell us about the work you do as Head of Product Design?

The product design team handles design for nine separate products across platforms; on the guest side, the chauffeur side, and for internal tools. One thing that my day-to-day involves is making sure that anyone working on one of those individual products is also thinking about the holistic view — that changes to one product result in a seamless and improved experience across all the other products.

I mentor designers, champion user research, attend design critiques, and work with product managers to make sure they’re aligned on the user experience across different products. I also help with strategic work within the company, so that means I’m sometimes facilitating workshops with leadership to help them set strategy and product vision. I also support different areas of the company that are talking to our users, so that might mean with customer care or with partner management. I want to get as much information as possible from our users so we can better solve their problems. 

How has your experience of the company evolved over the years?

Blacklane is definitely a more mature company in terms of focus and organizational strength than it was when I came in. I have worked in many startups and I know the evolution fairly well. Blacklane has gone through the evolution of being a smaller startup, feeling the growing pains, to now really understanding the scaling of the technology, how the product has to evolve, an idea of where this entire service needs to go in the next five years. 

I think that has been a really positive change. We have a guiding star product vision that we’re moving towards, which keeps the company aligned. 

What was your role in the recent rollout of our on-demand chauffeur-hailing service?

This was a very exciting project for us. In a product designer’s career, you don’t have a lot of chances to launch an entirely new product across channels from scratch. I tried to open it up as a huge learning experience for the entire product design team. 

The designers on the team had a big role in helping to gather requirements, working with product managers, and doing a lot of planning with the technology teams. They were also actively helping to set the scope of the MVP product, and also the roadmap of how we’re going to roll our chauffeur-hailing service

Now, we’re in that next phase of learning all the different levers that can be pushed and pulled for demand and supply. It was a very dynamic and a fun project and I learned a lot and I think everyone on the team did as well.

How has Blacklane helped with your own personal career development?

It has been great for my career to have a lot of space to try new things and to suggest new research that maybe people aren’t necessarily thinking about. My direct manager has also mentored me around managing –  at points – a fairly young team. This has been helpful for me in growing my own management skills, understanding how to free up my team and empower them, and to make sure they’re lifted up. I want them to be seen, feel valued, and help them grow.

What is a moment or time where you have felt proud to work at Blacklane?

I’m  extremely proud of my team and everyone at Blacklane who worked on the on-demand project. We did it under extraordinary circumstances in the pandemic with short-time work. I am incredibly proud of the designs and just the way that the teams worked together and collaborated to execute this new product. 

Can you tell me about a project you were excited to work on?

One thing I am excited about that is less visible to the company but really valuable is design operations, which is basically making sure the design team is set up with tools, design systems, and processes to work well with the engineering team. It’s sort of the equivalent of dev ops but on the design side. 

This has been an energizing set of work for us in the design team and we’re making good, solid progress collaborating with the engineering team on the web side. It’s fun and it’s nerdy and I really like a design nerd project.

What challenges you in your role?

Something that is a good challenge is the many moving parts to our service. To have a holistic view, and to bring that broad view to the table when people are working on their own small part, is an enjoyable challenge.

What would you like prospective candidates to know about Blacklane?

I think one thing I’ve always felt about Blacklane since I started here, is that it’s a company that rewards personal initiative. If you see something that isn’t working and that could be improved, you have the power, even if you come in as a junior designer or a junior engineer, to talk about that problem and to help make improvements. I think it’s possible to come in at any level in the company and flex your leadership muscles in this way and take initiative. 

Visit our careers page and find out how you join us in solving the challenges of moving travelers around the world and support a thriving community of professional chauffeurs.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed.