Senior Director, Design Research

  • San Francisco, CA
  • Full-time

Company Description

As the world's leader in digital payments technology, Visa's mission is to connect the world through the most creative, reliable and secure payment network - enabling individuals, businesses, and economies to thrive. Our advanced global processing network, VisaNet, provides secure and reliable payments around the world, and is capable of handling more than 65,000 transaction messages a second. The company's dedication to innovation drives the rapid growth of connected commerce on any device, and fuels the dream of a cashless future for everyone, everywhere. As the world moves from analog to digital, Visa is applying our brand, products, people, network and scale to reshape the future of commerce.

At Visa, your individuality fits right in. Working here gives you an opportunity to impact the world, invest in your career growth, and be part of an inclusive and diverse workplace. We are a global team of disruptors, trailblazers, innovators and risk-takers who are helping drive economic growth in even the most remote parts of the world, creatively moving the industry forward, and doing meaningful work that brings financial literacy and digital commerce to millions of unbanked and underserved consumers.

You're an Individual. We're the team for you. Together, let's transform the way the world pays.

Job Description

Visa’s NA Product Innovation & Design group is seeking an experienced Sr. Director of Design Research; NA Innovation & Design to be a strategic partner for the Research, Voice of Customer, Strategy & Design capabilities helping to plan, grow, and scale our business from a revenue & influence perspective. This individual will lead a team of qualitative and quantitative specialists, uncovering foundational thoughts, motivations & behaviors that drive people’s decision making to design innovative and engaging user experiences.  The Sr. Director of Design Research; NA Innovation & Design will work directly with Innovation & Design Leadership in collaborating with Visa’s clients & internal partners, as well as work with Visa’s internal Product org and Account & New Business teams seeking to forge & maintain long lasting client relationships. The Sr. Director of Design Research; NA Innovation & Design will report into Visa’s Global Research team to leverage best practices & knowledge to help constantly evolve and champion the research practice.

The Sr. Director of Design Research; NA Innovation & Design will:

  • Design, execute, and deliver strategic research to support innovation and design projects in partnership with Visa clients and  stakeholders.
  • Oversee and execute all phases of research (scoping, research strategy, conducting, synthesizing and reporting). Go deep to deliver actionable results.
  • Contribute and support strategic goals of the organization that grow the Innovation & Design business by building strong relationships with clients that build new business areas through research focused initiatives.
  • Act as a change agent, sparking fresh ideas that elevate the research practice and are infused in our culture and our products.
  • Champion the NA Innovation & Design practice to our regional partners,  building a  research model that is executable globally.
  • Foster collaboration between our design & product teams, in addition to consulting with other partners throughout Visa.
  • Be responsible for working across multiple clients to deliver best in class research ensuring actionable and timely insights.
  • Justify research and design decisions based on a thorough understanding of contemporary user-centered design methodologies.
  • Represent the team successfully with all types of stakeholders. 
  • Lead a team of Design Researchers focused on Payments Innovation.
  • As a senior team member, mentor design researchers across the org and lead by example in delivering impactful research outputs.
  • Be an advocate for our teams, employees and partners.

Essential Functions

  • Lead a team delivering generative and evaluative design research studies, handling every detail of some projects while managing staff doing the same on others.
  • Manage intra- and inter-team as well as external stakeholder relationships.
  • Work and communicate effectively with a diverse team of product owners, sales and consulting staff, clients, designers, and developers.
  • Bring experience to the table, mentoring, and asking how we can raise our bar.


Basic Qualifications
• 12 or more years of work experience with a Bachelor’s Degree or at least 10 years of work experience with an Advanced degree (e.g. Masters/MBA /JD/MD); or a minimum of 5 years of work experience with a PhD.

Preferred Qualifications
• 15 or more years of experience with a Bachelor’s Degree or 12 years of experience with an Advanced Degree (e.g. Masters, MBA, JD, or MD); PhD with 9+ years of experience.
• 15+ years of work experience, including significant experience in a role with responsibility for sizing, scoping of design research, analysis, reporting and client management for complex qual & quant research projects.
• Significant experience in planning, conducting, doing synthesis, and final delivery of generative/exploratory research activities such as interviews, personas, focus groups, diary studies, ethnographic studies, design ideation workshops, and customer journey mapping as well as evaluative research activities such as analytics and moderated and unmoderated user performance testing.
• Firm and grounded experience running an Innovation & Design research practice.
• Experience managing and executing diverse (inclusive) & niche respondent recruitment criteria, with a firm understanding of US & global privacy and data considerations.
• Strong aptitude for strategic thinking and decision making in real time challenges/problems.
• Strong understanding of the NA Innovation & Design space and how Visa can maximize our impact.
• A team player who is happy sharing credit, and looks to succeed by raising up one’s colleagues, putting the success of Visa ahead of personal gain.
• Strong personal values that refuse to compromise on commitments, quality, and the truth. We don't cut corners, we do what we say and say what we do.
• A Servant Leader with top notch people management skills and strong experience leading and growing distributed teams.
• Ability to build partnerships, navigate, and thrive working among multiple complex organizations, sometimes with competing agendas and differing values.
• Successful track record developing relationships and engaging with colleagues across functions, levels, and geographies.
• Proven ability to thrive in a virtual, bi-located team environment.
• Experience working with complex business and functional requirements.
• Strong independent problem-solving skills, self-direction, and innovative thinking.
• Excellent analytical abilities and attention to detail.
• Top notch client management / people skills with experience managing multiple stakeholder relationships.
• Vast experience working in the fast-paced, ambiguous Innovation space.
• Excellent verbal and written communication skills, problem solving skills, customer service and interpersonal skills.
• Fully fluent in English and able to understand and be easily understood English.
• Must be results-oriented, and have the ability to work independently, prioritize many competing needs including multiple urgent tasks, and effectively deal with ambiguity.
• Knowledgeable about accessibility guidelines and best practices.
• Experience and understanding of Product Management and Innovation in the Payments space.
• Understanding of UX and the design techniques and principles involved in the production of conceptual prototypes, wireframes, and HTML prototypes.
• Knowledge and experience with Visa products seen as a plus.

Additional Information

Work Hours: Varies upon the needs of the department

Travel Requirements: This position requires travel 5-10% of the time.

Mental/Physical Requirements: This position will be performed in an office setting.  The position will require the incumbent to sit and stand at a desk, communicate in person and by telephone, frequently operate standard office equipment, such as telephones and computers.

Visa is an EEO Employer.  Qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or protected veteran status.  Visa will also consider for employment qualified applicants with criminal histories in a manner consistent with EEOC guidelines and applicable local law.


Visa will consider for employment qualified applicants with criminal histories in a manner consistent with the requirements of Article 49 of the San Francisco Police Code.

Privacy Policy