avatar for Joseph Smiley

Joseph Smiley

Experience Design Team Lead
Joe Smiley is a respected design leader, team-builder, and innovative technologist with over 20 years of experience designing and developing experiences for many Fortune 500 brands - including E*TRADE, PwC, Marriott, AOL, Disney, FedEx, Strayer University, and Sysco Food - as well as numerous government agencies and non-profits. He currently leads E*TRADE’s Experience Design utilizing Human-Centered Design to research, design, and develop world class experiences. He is also a successful entrepreneur who co-founded and ran multiple technology firms, and recently served as a judge for the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship competition. He holds an MBA from the University of Virginia Darden Graduate School of Business with a focus on strategy and entrepreneurial studies, and a B.A. in Design from Virginia Tech. He is based in Fairfax, Virginia, loves to travel and cook with his wife Jenna, and a fun fact is that he’s only 3 degrees separated from Kevin Bacon. His passionate ideas on design and technology can be followed on DSRUPTR.

FXD 2019 talk title: Drive Innovation with Strategic Design!

Get to know Joe.

What do you enjoy about the work you are doing in finance?
​Pushing the boundaries of applying Human-Centered Design and advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) to create extraordinary customer experiences. 

What gets you most fired up in terms of a technology, tool, trend, or advancement?
I believe the future of design will be extraordinary as the centerpiece of the next business revolution – the Design Revolution. It will eclipse all other previous revolutions in its size and scale as it transforms business and the enterprise as we know it today, unlocking trillions and trillions of dollars in new revenue for organizations by creating new innovative industries, businesses, products, and services. I call it “Strategic Design,” which is the future of business because it puts design first in everything you do, as opposed to being an add-on or afterthought for most companies. It also elevates design beyond a single department and into the very foundations of an organization. We have a long way to go, but we’re expanding the utilization of design at E*TRADE by educating teams through on-going collaboration.

What do you think the future of financial experience will hold?
The future financial experience will be fully automated, ubiquitous, and personalized via the deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) within financial products and services that are accessible from anywhere via mobile devices and wearables. I can also envision it being highly interactive, social, and educational with augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) experiences.

What is the biggest obstacle you face in building a culture of design and innovation or putting a focus on wellbeing? How might the industry solve it?
The challenge that we face – like many organizations – is that design is rarely utilized beyond the design department. This is largely due to the fact that design is seldom represented in the C-suite of most companies, as business leaders continue to buy into the myth that design skills and methodologies should only be used among the creative staff. It’s also a lack of knowledge and awareness of how to apply it across the organization. Additionally, the lack of adoption goes even deeper into societal norms, where we’re taught from an early age in our schools via standardized tests that IQ – and not creativity and/or emotional intelligence – is the true standard measure of intelligence. Within organizations, it’s really about changing the mindset of leaders and colleagues, and I’m helping to do that by educating teams through on-going collaboration and thought leadership. Outside of organizations, it’s about educating our youth that creativity and emotional intelligence are just as valuable – if not more – than IQ, while advocating for more art & design education in our families, schools, and communities.

What would you tell your younger self?
​Buy Apple stock! In all seriousness, I would tell my younger self to stay focused, embrace adversity, take bigger risks, and ensure a healthy work-life balance.