Lead(H)er: Meeta Mathur, Vice President, Experience Design at MineralTree
Meeta Mathur began her design career more than 20 years ago in print and television advertising, where she put her degree in graphic design to good use. When the Internet arrived, her career took the first of several turns that eventually led her to a career in management and UX design leadership.
“It’s been a constant series of evolutions over the course of two decades from web design to information architecture to user experience design, to now managing the entire process,” said Mathur, who is now the Vice President of Experience Design at MineralTree, where she manages a suite of AP and accounts payable automation software.
As the Internet gained traction, Mathur moved into web design for PC Connection, which led to roles in information architecture as both a full-time employee at BigBad, Inc. and a consultant for various other companies, including H&R Block, Sapient, and Keurig.
The final turn in Mathur’s career came when she became a senior user experience designer at WSI Corporation, which provides weather-driven business solutions to media, aviation, and energy trading companies. There, Mathur designed new storm tracking features for the company’s proprietary software, which helped TV broadcasters track live weather data on geographical maps.
A little over a year later, Mathur became the associate UX director at Roundarch Isobar, where she worked for nearly two years before joining MineralTree in April 2013 to oversee the entire user experience and visual design process.
After working at larger companies, Mathur has welcomed the opportunity to connect with her coworkers on a personal level and build a strong rapport with them. She knows the motivations, goals, and preferences of many of her colleagues, making it easier to understand their perspective when they give feedback or present during a meeting, and giving their work as a team greater meaning.
Mathur has also been an active mentor over the last few years of her career with at least half a dozen mentorship roles at organizations within the Boston area, including Ladies Who UX Boston and #Mentor100kWomen. As she progressed through her own career, Mathur considers herself lucky to have found a few people willing to advise her along the way. But she wishes that she had encountered more mentors who actively volunteered their expertise, instead of finding them through happy accidents.
“I’m sure that if I felt this way, there were many more people who felt similarly,” Mathur said. “I’ve been there, I’ve lived through that, and I know what it’s like when you wish you had somebody whom you could turn to for advice at times, so I want to meaningfully give back and influence the careers of others like me.”
While mentorship remains a focal point of Mathur’s career going forward, she’s also interested in ensuring that MineralTree’s user experience and design team scales in line with the company’s growth. To this end, Mathur is planning to create more specialized roles and functions within the team to help it have an even greater impact on the company’s product design. Ideally having people on board that she describes as “T-shaped” – having deep knowledge in one aspect of design and having breadth of experience in a couple of adjacent areas.
“We want to make sure that the behavior of the application itself is based on our customers' motivations and pain points,” Mathur said. “Our design is based on the user’s mental model, which is what ultimately makes it easy to use and intuitive, and we want to make sure we can keep iterating that experience based on user feedback.”
Quick Q(uestions) and A(dvice)
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I enjoy spending time with my family and children. We go for walks, ride bikes and visit the neighborhood farm stand for ice cream. I also enjoy doing a little bit of painting and traveling. I recently started a painting based on my recent travels to Spain.
What are your strategies for managing stress?
The usual – watching a little bit of TV, consuming some online content, and other mindless stuff to relax.
How many cups of coffee do you drink in a day?
I’m actually not a coffee drinker, but I have about two to three cups of tea. I only have coffee once in a blue moon.
What’s one of your favorite places in the Boston area?
I absolutely love the city of Boston. It has so much to offer, especially in good weather. There are so many fun neighborhoods to walk around. In Concord, I love going to the Great Meadows wetlands because you get to see migratory birds and other wildlife. I also love going to the Cape in the summer.
What do you consider one of your proudest accomplishments so far?
I definitely think it’s the redesign of MineralTree that we did in 2013. The product has now been in use for six years, and it’s often cited for its ease of use. We’ve grown the company significantly during that time from Series A funding to a $50 million Series C round, and from having about 20 or 30 customers to several thousand customers. The team is rapidly growing and closing in on a 100 employees, and we are still actively hiring for several positions. I would say this is definitely one of my proudest accomplishments.
Is this where you saw yourself 10 years ago?
My career has evolved much. Twenty years back, there was no Internet, and even if you go back about 15 years, we weren’t really using smartphones. So much has changed in terms of technology and what is now considered ease of use. There’s been a lot of rapid-learning that has to be constantly re-learned to make sure you’re calibrated with changing times all the time. User mindsets are constantly changing with evolving technology and it’s important to stay ahead with this constantly evolving landscape. That’s just part of this career. Even toddlers today know that everything can be swiped! Those people are one day going to grow up, and what I’m doing today is going to evolve again because what they expect out of their product is going to be vastly different than what this generation expects.
What’s your advice for recent college graduates?
Hard work never fails. Work hard and work smart. Try to learn and acquire new knowledge whenever you can – there’s a lot out there, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. I don’t know if I’d be able to keep up if I started my career now. I was lucky to start my career when I did and grow it along with all of this tech. So you need to be able to put in the work to make it in this field. And make sure you get your own “personal board” of mentors, because you’re going to need them.