Ryan has been a huge reason that design at Liferay has matured so much in such a short amount of time. He is quite possibly the rarest blend of work-ethic, humility, and pure design talent that you could have the pleasure to work with.

What sets him head-and-shoulders above people who are similarly talented is his team-first mentality and high degree of self-awareness. 80% of the time, his ideas and execution are better than yours, BUT the 20% of the time yours is better — he'll be the first one to recognize it, run with it — and give you all of the credit. This is a very rare combination, and is part of what makes Ryan a key talent within any organization.

He truly is a championship caliber leader that makes everyone around him better — while we are sad to see him go, he's been instrumental in putting us on a path to success and we look forward to seeing what he does next.

Ryan in his element

Why did you join Liferay?

Initially, I joined Liferay to work on the Support team. I was tasked with helping Support design a better ticketing system, as well as improving their website’s UX.

My then girlfriend, now fiancee, is from Los Angeles — I’m originally from Chicago and was looking for opportunities in the area so I could be closer to her, and ended up moving forward with Liferay. Best decision I’ve ever made.

When did you start, why did you stay, and why did you leave Liferay?

I started 4 years ago — almost to the day — which is a long time at a tech company, but Liferay employees may not agree with that. There are many people who have been here 10-15 years. That sounds wild, but once you’ve worked here for a bit it’s understandable. You stay for the people.

I saw I had a lot to learn and I had amazing help along the way: huge kudos to Juan Hidalgo for his unending leadership, Paul Hanaoka for being exceptional at all things, and Victor Valle for being my international partner in crime. I have to also kudos my entire department, but especially my irreplaceable design team in Los Angeles for keeping me excited to wake up for work every day.

I’m leaving now to take a design role at Google which has been my dream for many years. I’ll be working on the Workspace Studio team within Google Cloud, designing new interactions and experiences for things my colleagues and I use daily.

Ryan getting ready to fly away ;_;

What was something in your time here that was pivotal to your growth?

Nothing beats great leadership.

I will never have enough nice things to say about Juan Hidalgo. He saw something in me that I didn’t see. He gave me opportunities and direction that led me to a future I would have never imagined for myself.

The leadership I was given wasn’t just from my direct manager, but also from everyone on my design team. The brilliance and kindness of the designers around me is something I will remember, and treasure, for the rest of my life.

Can you pick a favorite memory of your time at Liferay?

My favorite memory was when I joined the Commerce team as their lead designer. It was decided I had to go to Milan, Rome and Southern Italy to meet the team and work with them for a couple weeks. I met Marco Leo, head of commerce, and his hospitality was one of the most astounding things I’ve ever experienced. I remember drinking an espresso with him looking over the Adriatic Sea and thinking… Wow, this is my life.

Photo of the Adriatic Sea by Emiliano Cicero

What is the project you’re most proud of in your time here?

The project I’m most proud of is the team cultivation. Believe it or not, this is a project. Building a team is more than an abstract notion. It’s real — you can see it if you know what to look for. You can watch it grow.

Seeing my team grow and evolve has been the most proud and rewarding thing I’ve created here.

What is one (or two or three) things we need to do to get to the next level?

We definitely need to invest more in our Research Design team. We believe in data-informed design, and we need to emphasize that with more action.

We also need more designers in general. We have to build out our Solutions Design and Global Services teams more than what we have now.

Lastly, we need to invest in ourselves more: go to more conferences, give more talks, publish more articles. We need to believe in ourselves, build our self-confidence, and offer the design world our perspectives.

Why should someone join our team?

Personal and professional growth. If you want to become something greater than you could have imagined for yourself, join Liferay Design. This isn’t an advertisement — just a fact. Put in the work, follow your passion.

The limit to your growth and trajectory is your imagination.

Any parting wisdom?

Remember that compromise is not the same as settling. A great designer listens, but also understands. The best solution is one that solves the needs for everyone.

Never settle, always compromise.

Ryan sharing wisdom with the team

Never settle, always compromise.

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