After a long day of work, Katie Dill ’03 reaches over to the Kindle on her nightstand to read a few pages of Leadership: In Turbulent Times, a thorough look into how four presidents’ character traits made them effective commanders-in-chief. It’s advice Dill will take with her when she wakes up and heads to the Lyft office to perform her role of vice president of design. The position is a few rungs up the ladder from her previous post as Airbnb’s director of experience design, which she left in October 2017.

“I started out as a designer drawing in pixels, creating products. Now, my focus is on the people behind the work,” she says. “Obviously people are a lot more complicated.”

What drives her:

Dill leads the design team at Lyft, which encompasses everything the ride-sharing company’s users touch — from using the app to get a ride home from a concert to the actual ride experience to your brownstone.  “The design team of about 130 folks is responsible for how the service works: what it looks like, the placement of buttons you push in the app, and what the bikes are like to ride.”

Colgate’s liberal arts education, and her experience at the Art Center College of Design and business school INSEAD, taught Dill to think big picture in her career. “Design is not about what something looks like … and it doesn’t have to just be a physical object. You can design the way things work, how things interact, and you can design organizations. You can design strategies.”

At Lyft, Dill helps design experiences. One of the newest: self-driving cars. “Our autonomous cars team is helping define the future of these vehicles, including how to build them and how to make the experience of using them more human. Autonomous vehicles can provide a safer experience because there’s a lot of places where humans don’t do the best job; distracted driving is at an all-time high.”

She also helps design the team that makes Lyft a ride-sharing leader. “I spend a good portion of my time recruiting and interviewing and trying to find the right people for our organization. We are rapidly growing; we grew from 45 to 130 over the last year and a half.”

The most rewarding part of her job brings her back to her design roots. “We are designing bikes and scooters right now, and it’s just so fun. There’s nothing as good as riding down the road on something you’ve designed.”

A Colgate mentor helped forge the history major’s path. “When I started to feel a passion for creation, Marjorie Bradley Kellogg [associate professor of theater and scene designer emerita] supported and coached me.”