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Job Title:
Senior Design Thinker
Job ID:
Job Function:
Full/Part Time:
Job Category:
Program Administration
Washington, DC US
Business Unit:
Enterprise Strat & Innovtn Grp
Business Unit Description

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of nearly 38 million that helps people turn their goals and dreams into 'Real Possibilities' by changing the way America defines aging. With staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and promote the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare security, financial security and personal fulfillment. AARP also advocates for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name.  As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the world’s largest circulation magazine, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin.

Summary Statement

The Senior Design Thinker provides informal leadership in using human-centered design (also referred to as design research or design thinking) research methodology to probe, assess and evaluate behaviors of targeted groups of people and then translating that knowledge into meaningful information and system designs to inform concepts and improve products. This position will identify underlying cultural constructs and their expressions for specific groups of people, and identify the authentic connections within the ecosystem to help clarify opportunities and create breakthrough ideas.

This role will also maintain and manage innovation tools to be utilized by the enterprise and will oversee this process for the Enterprise Innovation group.


Financial and Budgetary Responsibilities

  • Manage the budget for design sprint research.

Design Thinking Consulting

  • Define, structure, and conduct in-person ethnographic research, in person and remote usability evaluations according to targeted metrics
  • Conduct research to explore and evaluate desired experiences, analyze research data, present findings, and make prioritized design recommendations
  • Collaborate with beneficiaries and other stakeholders to co-create desired system / software experiences
  • Clearly communicate research findings with a strategic voice, with prioritized recommendations and potential design solutions to developers, designers, and project sponsors through visually compelling presentations and documents
  • Build a network of consumers to enable innovation research and testing for the enterprise
  • Research and continue driving best-practices on researching, prototyping, and experimenting for use within AARP Innovation Labs
  • Coach and mentor others in design thinking consulting


This position will require the ability to manage multiple projects at the same time with limited oversight. This individual must possess a great deal of autonomy in developing day-to-day plans and executing on those plans.  Individual must also have experience with resource allocation and vendor management.

This individual’s responsibilities include driving human centered design methodology and best practices on innovation to support innovation teams as well as facilitating design sprints for internal customers.

This individual will need to operate with limited guidance to provide clear, guidance to teams on the resources available for innovation.  The diversity of this challenge is wide-ranging in application, as this role may involve multiple business units across the organization. Strong leadership, decision-making, innovation knowledge, communication, and executional skills are required for this position.

Nature of Contact

This position involves engaging with stakeholders and business unit managers in an advisory capacity in identifying clear expectations for design thinking exercise and associated results.  This level of engagement will require strong coordination, communication and planning skills. This individual will regularly interact with the SVP Innovation & Product Development and other senior business leaders throughout the organization. This individual will regularly negotiate with external vendors, partners or suppliers that can help conduct meaningful research and experiments to propel new solutions forward.


This position will have a direct impact on AARP’s success in developing innovative solutions today and in the future. Responsible for supporting teams that are bringing breakthrough solutions to market.  Additionally, this individual will have direct interaction with consumers and key high-level executives



  • Bachelor’s degree
  • A minimum of 8+ years of relevant project management, innovation and operations experience required and a minimum of 5 years design thinking.
  • Ability to engage with senior leaders and facilitate sessions with executives throughout the organization.
  • Ability to demonstrate organizational skills and possess a clear understanding of the convergent and divergent phases of an innovating process to be able to inspire and support innovation teams and startups in a meaningful way.  
  • This role requires a strong passion for innovation, a high level of comfort navigating ambiguous and unregimented opportunities and attention to detail. This individual is highly personable, empathetic, inquisitive, and analytical and uses these skills to inspire others, consult and guide individuals utilizing innovation tools and manage the resources needed in the innovation lab.  

Additional Requirements:

  • Advanced degree
  • Experience with resource and vendor management preferred
  • Event and partner management skills a plus

Benefits Offered

 AARP offers competitive benefits with a 401K, 100% company funded pension plan, health, dental, vision and life insurance, STD/LTD, paid vacation and sick, and other benefits.

Equal Employment Opportunity

AARP is an equal opportunity employer committed to hiring a diverse workforce and sustaining an inclusive culture.  AARP does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sex, color, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, mental or physical disability, genetic information, veteran status, or on any other basis prohibited by applicable law.

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