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Northeastern Alumnus Wells Riley Works at the Intersection of Design and Technology in the Heart of San Francisco’s Start-Up Scene

Wells Riley, Northeastern alumnus.

Northeastern alumnus Wells Riley is an experienced product designer, creative, and leader based in San Francisco. He graduated from Northeastern with a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design, and has been working in the field ever since. Five years ago, he joined Envoy, a software company that “elevates the workplace experience” across a wide range of departments and industries by weaving technology into the fabric of the office. There, he wore many hats, most recently serving as Head of Design. No two days were the same, and he had the opportunity to think strategically, lead and develop a team, strengthen his writing skills, and more.

As Head of Design, Wells was responsible for the product experience, the company brand, and working with his colleagues on the executive team and the CEO to set long-term product strategy for the company. He led a team of designers who each managed different aspects of the product and brand. As a team, they were responsible for bringing a thriving design-led culture to Envoy, and position Envoy as a thought leader in the design industry.

“I’m a big believer in the mission and vision of Envoy—to design technology that makes the workplace work better—and some of my favorite moments are those where that vision comes closer to becoming a reality,” Wells explained. “When brands like Tesla, Marvel, Slack, and Uber buy into your vision, it’s incredibly motivating. It’s also a great platform on which to build new products and solve different kinds of problems for our customers… which Envoy will continue to do!”

At Northeastern, Wells chose to study graphic design as a way to build off the freelance design work he had already been doing in high school; this freelance work allowed him to work with professionals around the country before even entering college.

“I love the intersection between creative expression and problem solving. Looking back, I’m still really happy with my choice,” Wells added. “Since Northeastern, I’ve also learned how to code, and I’ve picked up some electronic engineering skills as well. I think these skills dovetail nicely with what I learned at Northeastern. I can pretty much make anything.”

His co-op opportunities also helped position Wells for success after graduation. His first position was at a branding design firm, where he focused on production-level work for packaging, logos, and other print materials for big multi-national brands.

“Most of my work before (and since) has been digital for the web / apps, so it was like stepping into a whole other world,” Wells described. “Print, especially at the scale of designing for international distribution, requires perfection. A typo can cost millions of dollars. The expectations when working with global brands are very high, even early on in the process.”

For his second co-op, Wells scaled up his freelance business and hired a new team that was both designing and building mobile apps for the first iPhones, and designing websites for some big names in the music industry. This was a great chance for Wells to see what running a start-up full-time was like, which presented new opportunities and challenges than doing freelance part-time. In addition to running his own company, his involvement in the Entrepreneurs Club, including serving as the Creative Director on the leadership team, also gave Wells useful business experience. As part of this club, he had exposure to other entrepreneurs, and he met several people who helped him with his business, as well as getting job interviews at start-ups when he decided to make the move to San Francisco.

Now, Wells looks forward to beginning a new role as Principal Product Designer at Snapdocs, a real estate technology company. We are eager to see where this new role takes him!