Alumni Reflections – Tony Joy

Tony Joy, a Senior Product Designer at Resolve to Save Lives and a graduate of the ownpath Fellowship, shares insights from his career journey in the healthcare sector post-program completion.

Alumni Reflections – Tony Joy
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Fellow Stories


After completing ownpath’s Product Design Fellowship, Tony became a Senior Product Designer at 'Resolve to Save Lives (RSL)', focusing on improving digital solutions for the healthcare sector. His role has evolved to working with non-design stakeholders and advocating for user-centric design, and he stresses the importance of articulating the value of good design in terms they’ll understand.

Intentional learning complements his on-the-job experiences, while constant UI practice sharpens his skills. He also values engaging in community events and interacting with new people, which helps him bring fresh perspectives to his work.

Through his experience, he has learned that design is collaborative and is meant to be iterative. His advice to new designers: create lots of work, even if it's not perfect, to improve over time and bridge the gap between ambition and output.

His story: 

A lot has changed since I completed the Product Design Fellowship in 2022. I've been working as a Senior Product Designer at Resolve to Save Lives (RSL), assisting health ministries in improving their digital solutions. Lately, my role has taken a bit of a turn towards product management.

Before joining ownpath’s Fellowship, I already had some groundwork laid by working with talented designers for two years, which gave me a solid understanding of users. During the Fellowship, my focus was on enhancing my UI skills and creating beautiful, functional yet simple to use designs.

Building the Design Muscle

My approach is inspired by this famous quote by Ira Glass -

“All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be. It has potential. But your taste -- your taste is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap and your work will be as good as your ambitions”

During my time at ownpath, I consistently created work week after week, shedding much of my initial missteps along the way. By the time I joined Resolve to Save Lives and started working with their talented designers, the quality of my work drastically improved. It began to match the taste that I started with – the designs I aimed to create.

The weekly sessions at ownpath also helped me build a muscle to absorb design critiques, which are now a significant part of my work.

It takes a thick skin to present your designs in a meeting and receive feedback from multiple stakeholders. I've shifted away from the notion of a designer as a reclusive artist and am more aligned with the approach that design is more collaborative. It’s meant to be iterative and requires teamwork with stakeholders to reach a solution.

Design Can Be a Messy Process

RSL is primarily composed of health experts, with its tech division established by Daniel Burka in the last two years. In my current role, I spend lots of my time with health officials and government representatives who focus on establishing healthcare programs, without factoring into their decision-making the needs of end users, such as doctors and nurses in busy hospitals. I’ve had to develop communication strategies tailored to non-designers, to really be able to be effective.

People on the ground don’t care about “design”. They care about accurate data in their systems, reliable dashboards, and user-friendly software that requires minimal training time. Without involvement from non-design folks, we can't achieve the desired results too. It comes down to the efforts I put into connecting how good design can achieve the goals that matter to them.

Good, user-centred design can reduce training time from months to hours, which is a real impact that resonates with them.

This is one of the big ways my approach to design has changed. I see many young designers treat design as a relay race: hoping to receive clearly defined requirements to solve on Figma and deliver for someone else to pick up. But design is typically a messy process, and a mature designer doesn't wait for requirements to come to them; they engage with stakeholders to determine the current needs and how design can contribute to solving problems. Mature designers learn to deal with this ambiguity much better.

That being said, creating good UI is something that should also be constantly practiced. Many designers excel at problem-solving but struggle to create quick solutions on Figma. When I'm not actively designing UI for work, I regularly recreate app interfaces in Figma because I don't want to lose the muscle for creating a good piece of design. This practice is crucial for every designer.

Most of my learning happens on the job, surrounded by talented designers who inspire improvement. Yet, I've realised the importance of intentional learning to fill gaps not addressed at work. For instance, transitioning to a role involving stakeholder consultations.

I realised that there is a huge gap between the ideas I have in my head and how articulate I am when communicating them.

The only way I can get better at communicating is if I go to a meeting and practice communicating with stakeholders, but how to strategically approach those conversations, is something I get out of reading a long-form book about articulating design decisions.


Being intentional about mentorship relies on those around me. My current manager indirectly mentors me, whose work I had been following even before joining. But in previous roles where i lacked good leadership, I made an intentional effort to connect with more senior designers.

A good way to meet new people is by attending community events and I love that I get such opportunities through ownpath. Designers are a fun and empathetic bunch and I meet new people each time, working on diverse projects. These conversations make me understand how design is supporting users in different industries and I end up taking some ideas back to my life and career too.

When I don't connect with people outside of my immediate network, I stay in a bubble, and the kind of ideas I have are shaped by what the people inside that bubble are thinking.

Advice for young designers

My advice for aspiring designers would be to focus on creating a ton of work. As a designer, soft skills like communication and stakeholder management are important, but consistently creating good UI should be their priority. Spending just 15 minutes every day to enhance UI skills can make a big difference.

Keep creating UI pieces every day, even if they are shitty. That way there’s no pressure to create something perfect. Before you know it your shitty pieces of design will get good enough. And after good enough they will suddenly become great.

ownpath is a great platform to practice this and to collaborate with and meet designers. They are open to feedback to make the program better and I’ve seen a lot of the suggestions actually being implemented over time. My advice to fellows is to keep working and submitting assignments, even if they're just rough drafts. Being in the company of such a passionate group of people every week is invaluable. Engaging and creating work consistently is what every fellow should be doing.


If you're looking to make a career transition, or level up in product design, learn more about ownpath's Product Design Fellowship.

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