Living in the Creative Zone: Ivy Ross, Vice President at Google

Living in the Creative Zone: Ivy Ross, Vice President at Google

Living in the Creative Zone, Transforming the World One Idea at a Time is a collection of interviews with international figures driving change forward through purpose and passion projects. For the next year these interviews will publish on the platform, the complete e-book will be available in 2018.

Writer Jody Turner interviews associate Ivy Ross, Vice President of Design and User Experience for Hardware Products at Google, Silicon Valley, California.


Ivy, how are you able to do what you do, such a large, global role with big responsibilities! We know you are busy, what are your top line thoughts for us to take away?

“I like to stay aware of everything that is going on in the world and follow what intrigues me, and where my curiosity naturally goes. I am always looking to connect the dots.

I follow my instinct. I work where I can learn something new and the company can utilize me for what I do best, the even exchange. This has led me to what I do today.

I am interested in human potential and relationships which to me is a core, fundamental, foundation. I remain open to new information around this showing where society is going.

Depending on how the configuration of the world and society shift, my interests regarding person to object, person to space and person to community will shift. This drives how I function in the current role I am in and drives the purpose of that role.

My curiosity drives new aspects of that and I utilize that drive in all I do.

For example, right now I am interested in technology that amplifies our humanity. This underlines every project I work on today. I continually ask myself and team, will this interface we are working on amplify our humanity versus take us away from what it is to be human?

What is the basis of your work with your teams in this endeavor, what are your tools of choice?

For me and in working with my teams, design thinking is important. I believe IDEO has branded what all creatives walk around doing – observing where there is a need state and trying to solve to that in a creative and unique way.

I am invested in paying attention to the evolving need states we recognize and work with. Sometimes these states are clear opportunities, so clear you can see the white space around them and an approach is clear.

“Sometimes the need states are fast forwarding and we see solves we don’t yet know are possible. Tech is making us more creative but we must be careful that tech is solving and not interfering.”

While I work differently per industry it is always with an eye toward the solve, making sure the solve is surprising and delightful. This pushes any idea further.

What drives you in your creative leadership?

I have always studied sound and music, it makes me see an orchestra and I am naturally in the role of conductor. I utilize this project to project, what do I need to create the perfect symphony or harmony? Who can I call on for the sound or end result I am seeking? What instruments do I need to put together, not just who is great at what they do, but that they will be harmonic when they work as a group.

This is the job of the creative leader to collect amazing people, while deeply understanding what they do best.

From your years of working in influential and varied industries, what do you see for the future of working together?

Recently and in this lifetime we went from working in little grey boxes forty hours a week to outside of the box and all over the place. I seek time to work together eye to eye, immersing and nurturing ourselves in places, ways and spaces we work best.

We are in the process of finding the right balance. Not with ‘either or’ thinking and doing, but with ‘and’ or ‘both’. Customization and personalization for consumers is big but the same is true for companies. What might be the right way to organize for one, is not for another, it depends on what the company is producing. While it used to be one-size-fits-all, our future of working together is going to be more customized based on the service or product the company provides.

Thank you Ivy for sharing your inspirations, we look forward to speaking with you again in the future.

Ivy Ross is an entrepreneur and creative thinker in conceiving and implementing new design, marketing, and business concepts based on both insight and foresight. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors in the marketplace throughout career; and is one of nine executives selected by Fast Co. Magazine to represent the new face of leadership . Ivy Ross has been selected by Business Week magazine in as one of the 25 most innovative global business leaders working within a corporation. Ivy Ross is a Vice President at Google and is head of Hardware and Experience Design.