Lauren Cox is a graduate of Colorado State University (B.S. in interior design, ’13). She currently lives in Denver and works as a design program manager at Havenly, with previous experience as a showroom manager and project manager at another Colorado-based company. To learn more about Cox and her current position, read her interview below.
Describe your current position and some of the responsibilities that come with it.
Currently, I am a design program manager at Havenly, an online interior design and e-commerce platform based out of Denver. My main responsibilities involve providing day-to-day support for our team of 300+ eDesigners and providing advice and guidance with their design-related questions. Being part of a rapidly evolving start-up also means that we are always innovating on our service and offerings to our clients, so I also provide support to many of the new products or designer roles that we create in order to adapt to what our clients may be looking for.
How has COVID-19 changed operations for your company and industry, and how are you responding to it?
We at Havenly are in an advantageous position because we are part of an industry that is seeing a lot of growth and shift towards virtual design and furniture shopping, so the negative effects of COVID-19 have not felt nearly as impactful as they have in so many other industries. We were already well-established for virtual interior design prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, since we have operated as an eDesign platform since the company’s inception. Of course, this does not mean that we have continued with “business as usual” during this time. The interior design industry as a whole has seen some significant shifts, since it’s been challenging or nearly impossible, in some cases, to continue meeting with clients in-person, shopping for furniture in a brick and mortar showroom, or visiting a local design center. Now that people are seeking out virtual design services even more these days, our eDesigners are much busier than they were even just a few months ago.
Why did you decide to pursue your current career path?
Prior to beginning my studies at CSU, I knew that I wanted to work closely with people, and I wanted to have an impact on the way they lived their day-to-day lives. Plus, I had a knack for interior design, so pursuing a career in this field seemed like a no-brainer! Even though I am not currently working as an active interior designer, I am still heavily involved in the industry, and I have carved a niche for myself to be able to support other designers who are working to build their careers and establish a place for themselves within this industry.
How have your education and experiences at CSU and the College of Health and Human Sciences helped you in your career?
It goes without saying that I would not be where I am today without my degree and in-depth studies from CSU. But, my time at CSU was filled with so much more than just lectures and studios that helped to support my career — my involvement with clubs and councils played a crucial role in my career development. During my final year at CSU, I held the position of President for the CHHS Dean’s Leadership Council, and the experiences and opportunities I was exposed to while in this role will stick with me for years to come. Being a part of the Council gave me the confidence to lead and manage, the patience to understand concerns and ideas from my peers, and compassion to lean in when a little extra support is warranted.
What advice do you have for students looking for a full-time job in your field?
If I take anything away from 2020, it would be that flexibility and diversity of skills are key for success, no matter what field students ultimately end up pursuing. Within any field — but especially a creative field like interior design — it’s all too easy to “specialize” in one software, one style, one realm of design, etc., but it’s abundantly clear now that anyone niche could be dissolved or completely transformed in the blink of an eye. My one piece of advice to students would be to explore as many passions or areas of interest as possible and to develop transferable skills within a few of those areas through job shadowing, involvement in related organizations, or even taking online classes to expand their knowledge. You don’t need to be an expert in all of your areas of interest, but it sure does help to have other passions and strengths to explore while building your career, and it’s especially helpful to have other strengths to call upon during extreme circumstances as we have already seen so much of this year.