Meet Frank Roméu, Senior Product Designer at HubSpot. He started his career in retail sales and customer service in Miami, and after visiting a former colleague in Boston and touring his company’s office (yes, it was HubSpot’s headquarters!) his excitement for tech ensued. A few years later, he landed his first role at HubSpot on the product design team and as a member of the Latine community, has spent his time advocating for others looking to get into tech, and helping strengthen HubSpot’s culture of inclusion. 

Note: the term “Latine” is a gender-inclusive term based off linguistic precedent in Spanish, sometimes referred to by others as “Latinx”. For more information on the terminology, you can check out these two articles: here and here.

Can you tell us a little about your journey to HubSpot as a Latine individual?

My journey to being a designer at HubSpot was years in the making. I was born and raised in Miami, Florida to a family of Cuban immigrants fleeing the Castro regime. I spent the bulk of my life in South Florida where I began my career in retail sales and customer service.

At the time in Miami, software companies were mostly nonexistent so I couldn’t even fathom the possibility of working in a swanky, corporate tech office. Everything changed when I took a trip to Boston in 2014. The very first thing I did upon my arrival was visit a former colleague at his work office in Cambridge. The company? HubSpot.

I was enthralled by what I had seen there. It wasn’t just the cozy decor, buzzy energy, unlimited time off, and beer on tap. It was the people. I met a diverse group of folks, who were passionate about their work and had the autonomy to succeed on their own terms. I was instantly sold.

That trip compelled me to leave home and move to Boston with the hopes of one day, someday, making my way into HubSpot. My career continued to progress as I transitioned from retail to tech and eventually landed a spot on their product design team. 

Throughout my 3 years at HubSpot, I’ve continued looking for opportunities to advocate for the Latine community — such as being a panelist for our annual “First Gens in Tech'' event. This gave me the chance to share more about my journey in the hopes that it helps other first-generation individuals (including Latines) find their way into the tech roles they seek.

Describe a typical day in your role.

As a product designer, I’m part of the UX organization at HubSpot. UX, or user experience, refers to the design of the overall experience of our product. In other words, it’s the “plan” for how everything should look, feel, work, and behave in order to solve for our customer’s needs and help them achieve their goals.

My day-to-day involves a mix of customer empathy, team alignment, and heads-down designing. 

In order to design a product that provides value to our customers, we have to understand them first. I’ll spend a portion of my day reviewing feedback channels to hear what users are saying about our features and where they need improvement. These comments, in addition to feedback interviews with customers, help to root my perspective in their problems and build enough empathy to design the right solutions for them.

With this clarity, I’m able to articulate and advocate for customer needs in team meetings. HubSpot is a large organization and the product has many moving parts. As part of a team’s leadership, designers will meet frequently with others to align on strategy and vision while making sure we think holistically about whatever we build. 

The last chunk of my day involves the actual work of designing solutions. This is where I get to throw on some music and start creating artifacts to represent what our product should be. The output of this process includes hand-drawn sketches, polished mockups, functional prototypes, diagrams, or slide decks. I love this part of my day because I get to flex the creative side of my brain. 

How do you build Latine inclusion into the HubSpot product?

HubSpot is a global product used in different languages and by numerous countries around the world. It’s our responsibility to design it to function for everyone and avoid alienating segments of our customers.

One angle of inclusion is purely on the basis of language. The features we design have written content in them related to their function. As such, I have to make sure that whatever solutions we build will be able to scale content to different languages. 

For example, say I’m deciding to show a box on the screen that’s supposed to have text inside it. That text could be 4-5 letters in English but maybe 12 letters in Spanish, or even 20 letters in German! There always needs to be a plan for how our structures will adapt to the flexibility of language. 

Another way that we stay inclusive in design is through our feedback mechanisms. As I mentioned earlier, I’m constantly referring to customer comments or chatting with them directly to understand their problems. I personally try to make sure that I source feedback from customers beyond the United States and/or English-speaking countries. I was even fortunate enough to help train some of our Latin American support team to translate for research calls with Latine customers. This ensures that we continue building a truly global product.

What can other businesses do to improve Latine inclusion into their Product?

Even if your product or service isn’t intended for a global audience, don’t treat non-English speakers as second-class citizens. If you’re building software, audit your designs to make sure that you not only support other languages but also that the experience isn’t fundamentally broken when translated. If you’re not building software, you likely have a marketing website. Provide content or alternative experiences that can be consumed by non-English speakers.

Inclusion is good for business so do your research. Understand the perspectives and pain points of customers outside of your primary demographic. It’s possible that you have an entire customer base wanting to use your product, but aren’t able to for a possibly trivial reason. These insights would never be surfaced if time isn’t taken to explore the perspectives of others.

Outside of work, what do you like to do in your free time?

For the past year and a half, I’ve been consumed by the world of indie filmmaking. I was gifted a camera and have been exploring it as much as I can. Though relatively new to it, I get so much energy from the process of storytelling, screenwriting, lighting, photography, and editing. My hope is to eventually shoot a few short films, attend a film festival, and one day direct a feature-length independent project.

Interested in learning more about our culture at HubSpot? Check out our careers page and follow us on Instagram.

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