Employee Spotlight
Karolina Coates

In our Employee Spotlight, we shine a light on the exceptional talent within our organization. Today, we turn our attention to Karolina Coates, the Head of Design at BoatyardX. With her visionary leadership and deep design expertise, Karolina plays a pivotal role in cultivating a culture of creativity and collaboration in our company. Join us as we delve into Karolina's journey, explore her leadership philosophy, and gain insights into what makes her tick.

What is your role at BoatyardX and what does a typical day look like for you? 

I head our design discipline, which gives me the privilege of working not only with a wonderful and talented group of designers but also collaborating across functions, projects and geographies. My day-to-day work is all about balancing multiple responsibilities which evolve around two pillars: leading with a vision and leading alongside the team.


What I mean by that is that leading with a vision is all about zooming out to see the big picture, positioning our teams and clients for success: nurturing talent, empowering the team to explore the art of possible, fostering strong relationships with clients, stakeholders and the wider community.


Leading alongside, on the other hand, is how we lend guidance to the team, ensure that our approach aligns with client requirements and industry best practices, adapt to evolving project demands, maintain momentum and focus on tangible outcomes.

What challenges have you faced in your role and how have you overcome them? 

Our clients come to us with complex, multi-faceted problems, which means that challenges are pretty much a given. 


They might be reimagining an existing digital product, modernising a piece of technology or exploring a new product concept altogether. Either way, this means that they are stepping outside their comfort/expertise zone and require a partner they can trust.


Thankfully, our people share (among others) two key qualities: hunger for interesting problems to solve and the ability to turn uncertain conditions into growth opportunities. We challenge and support one another in doing exactly that and are not afraid to course-correct and pivot, when that’s what’s required to deliver value and successful outcomes to our clients. When you do it over and over, it forges your ability to navigate the challenges together. It’s a powerful combination to offer to our clients.

What have been your proudest achievements while working at BoatyardX?

Combining the power of creative thinking and the latest technologies to solve real-life problems in a structured, disciplined way. 


Our design methods combine the best, tried and tested ideas from Lean Startup and LeanUX, IDEO, Design Thinking, GV Design Sprint. We stand on the shoulders of giants of those passionate leaders and educators like Jared Spool, Alan Cooper, Uncle Bob, Jeff Gothelf, Steve Krug, Marty Cagan, Caroline Jarrett, Jacob Nielsen, Susan Weinschenk and our Irish-grown UX Design Institute, led by Colman Walsh and many many more.


We take great care and pride in constantly refining our toolkit and pushing the limits of the scale and complexity of problems it allows us to tackle.


As someone recently queried: ‘Are you telling me that you can apply your discovery framework to solve world hunger problem?’ – yes, that’s exactly what we’re after. We can’t promise to solve it all, but we will find a way to move the needle in the right direction on a budget to suit your needs. 

Join BoatyardX

Now spread across 6 locations, Cluj, Iasi and Brasov (Romania), Bogota (Colombia), Dublin (Ireland) and Chicago (US), the BoatyardX team currently exceeds 120 people and continues to grow.

With customers in North and South America, Europe, Northern Africa and South-East Asia, the team spans the key working timezones.  Expertise is enhanced across the teams through establishing technical competency groups led by experienced leaders, charged with ensuring best practice and efficient learning across all the organisation.