5 x 5 - Get to Know a Service Designer, Leah Cabrera

Interview with Leah Cabrera, Service Designer in Design and Innovation Group at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

by Thomas Brandenburg

“No industry is immune to system-level changes, so how design can facilitate these transdisciplinary collaborations will become even more critical in service design (and other fields).” 

1. What issue related to service design thought leadership is most interesting to you?    

Currently, I’m interested in marrying service design and behavioral sciences to bolster innovation, amplify impact and scalability. I am fortunate to be working on a team with an in-house behavioral scientist, and I am working closely with her to explore ways to integrate her insights and work into my design process. This is one manifestation of my ongoing interest in combining qualitative and quantitative research to strengthen insights and concept development. I’m eager to continue learning how transdisciplinary collaborations can help designers better identify links between systems and stakeholders to envision futures that take into consideration the needs of different actors involved. No industry is immune to system-level changes, so how design can facilitate these transdisciplinary collaborations will become even more critical in service design (and other fields).

2. What skill(s) should a budding service designer have in their back pocket?   

Ability to translate insights from one industry to another

Communicate effectively with people from different disciplines, cultures, and social groups

Openness to receive feedback, and ability to provide actionable feedback

And of course be a team player! It’s all about effective collaboration.

3. What reading material (articles, books, blogs, etc.) would you recommend reading?  

In the bubble by John Thackara

Designing for the Real World by Victor Papaneck

Thinking in Systems by Donella H. Meadows

Also, I’d recommend not only reading but traveling and getting outside of your comfort zone…

4. How would you describe your work style?

Collaborative, I tend to talk things through to pinpoint main ideas, connections between them and get to and ideal solution. But, I also need some solo time to design and produce materials. It´s mostly a balance of high moments of collaboration followed by heads-down time.

5. What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

You can’t control the context around you, but you can control how you react to it -  Although you can find this written in multiple places, this phrase sums up similar advice I got from multiple friends at different points in my life. I was reminded of this recently after a long conversation with a good friend about how to manage expectations, work and basically everything in life.

Bonus question— What is your best ninja skill?

Uncanny ability to take mid-air photos…

Check out other 5 x 5s on the SDN US National Conference blog