Growing A Team Is Like Gardening – Paolo Malabuyo


BY Sam Davies


2 July 2019

Reading Time: 2 minutes

In this podcast:
UX Design  • Building A Dynamic Team  • Google • Personal Growth

Paolo is a user experience designer and leader with a serious CV to his name. He has been instrumental both as a designer and leader of people in companies such as Microsoft, Mercedes and Netflix. He is currently at Google as the director of UX in the YouTube Ads team.

Paolo spoke at Pause Fest earlier in the year about ‘The 5 P’s’ – a practical framework that he has put together for leading teams, which we talked about in our chat. As well as this, we discussed his insights on what it takes to lead an innovative team and the state of UX design in 2019.

Something I read in one of his blogs really stood out to me as the potential foundation for Paolo’s success. You can read this below…

“My first professional job was at IBM in 1995. I remember seeing so many meetings requiring the use of a whiteboard, and how all these people who got up to write on it had horrible handwriting and couldn’t draw a straight line. When I tried it myself, I could barely do better. So I decided to practice. These were the days of private offices with doors, so I would close my door and practice writing and drawing on my whiteboard a few days a week. Once I gained enough confidence to do it consistently, I would volunteer to be the person at the board during meetings. People saw that my notes were actually good and that the charts were readable, so they started asking me to do it more. I also realized that when I was the person standing up with the pen, I had the power to speak up and influence the discussion and the written record, so I did. This was an early lesson for me how a small thing, practiced and executed, could have an outsized impact at work.”

I just love that. He saw an opportunity and grasped it. No one asked him to or told him it would be a good idea. These are the traits of an ‘A player’.

Paolo’s advice for up and coming designers (which can apply to anyone) is ‘do the work’. You don’t become a designer by not designing. You have to get your hands dirty and practise, practise, practise. You will suck at first and there will be many lessons learnt along the way but the only way to succeed is to try and try again.

It’s a massive cliche but failure really does build success and every time we fall short or things don’t go our way – we are learning for next time when we can come back stronger and with a new perspective. I look back on the last 11 years I have been running my own business and can very clearly see how the failures (which completely sucked at the time) have been huge pillars for growth.

If you’re interested in learning more about opportunities at Google, you can check out design.google for more information.

Mentioned in the podcast:
For a good summary of the 5 P’s, we recommend this keynote talk.

Find Paolo on:



Subscribe On:



Like what you see?
Subscribe now to receive regular updates


Sam Davies

Sam has been running a Digital Agency in some form or another for almost a decade. He loves the internet and the positive changes it has brought to the world but still loves time away from the glowing cubes. Surf, Fish, Drink, Cook, Laugh….Drink! You can follow him on Instagram @samdaviesdn and on Snapchat @digitalnoir