David Murray

I am a product design leader and team builder focusing on virtually anything with a screen. I'm currently the VP of Product Design at WillowTree in Charlottesville, VA.

My Approach

Create an inspired environment, so the team wants to create the best work of their careers.

I have spent the majority of my career, either designing digital products or helping to build and guide teams to make them. While I have always loved pushing pixels, most of my fulfillment now comes from seeing designers grow into creating the best work of their careers and doing whatever I can to help them – and the product they are designing for – succeed.

I started my career as a touring drummer but found myself spending all of my free time designing for the web. It didn't take long to realize a career change was in order. In the early 2000s, I began doing freelance graphic design and web design for advertising agencies in the Mid-Atlantic, ultimately joining a marketing product company full-time.

Over the years, I have had the great fortune of working in all areas of digital products, partnering with clients across well-established Fortune 100 & 500 companies, a couple hundred universities, and a handful of technology start-ups.

My leadership philosophy can be summed up with this quote attributed to the French writer and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry:

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the [people] to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.

CURRENT ROLE

VP of Product Design

WillowTree / 2018 – Present

As the head of design at this 500 person agency, I am responsible for driving culture, quality of all client products, and the vision for what defines great design across all WillowTree offices in multiple cities. I have built the design group from 5 to 50+ designers.

Design Leadership Forum Member

InVision / 2018 – Present

Selected designer leaders from the industry, advancing the practice of design leadership by fostering a community where the world’s best can learn from one another. I was nominated by my team at WillowTree 🖤.

Director of Product Design

WillowTree / 2015 – 2018

Managed the product design group and design operations at WillowTree's headquarters in Charlottesville, VA. I was also tasked with hands-on strategy and design work for key client "blue sky" projects.

Principal Product Designer

WillowTree / 2013 – 2015

Lead design for large mobile products (NCAA, CBS Sports, Nestlé, Hatch). Mentored design interns and junior designers.

Creative Director

DePalma Studios / 2012

Helped start this small digital product studio in Nashville with two others. I was responsible for growing the creative side of the business and managing the team of designers.

Digital Creative Director

Royall & Company / 2007 – 2012

Charged with taking previously custom, one-off digital campaigns and creating a suite of products for all university clients to use. Built the team from 5 to 60+. Royall was sold in 2014 to EAB for $850m.

Lead Web Designer

Royall & Company / 2003– 2006

Managed a growing web design group for the agency. After years of print and email marketing for universities, I was charged with building out our fastest growing business area – digital.

Web Designer

Royall & Company / 2003 – 2006

I was one of the first web designers at this previously print-only marketing agency for higher education.