Reclaiming design leadership: a conversation with Matthew Holloway, DXC Board Advisor and Founding Member

Membership

Elevating the Design Discourse

In a landscape where design is often reduced to the manipulation of prefabricated elements, there are those who insist on driving the conversation to higher ground. Enter Matthew Holloway: Board Advisor and Founding Member of the Design Executive Council (DXC) who is currently Global Head of Design at SnapLogic, the enterprise leader in generative data integration. With a rich career spanning over 30 years, Holloway is no stranger to the challenges and opportunities of design. His extensive résumé includes a transformative role as Vice President, Office of the CEO at SAP from 2005-2009. There, he reported directly to industry titans Hasso Plattner, Chairman of SAP, and CEO Henning Kagermann. In that capacity, he spearheaded an organizational overhaul that embedded design thinking across SAP’s expansive 60,000-person development, sales, and consulting teams. His experiences afford him an insightful perspective on the state and future trajectory of design.

The Urgency of Redefining Our Craft

Matthew Holloway is quick to articulate a pressing concern: the design profession has lost its way. "All too frequently, today's 'designers' are simply arranging a set of prefabricated widgets using prescriptive patterns and calling it design," says Holloway. In the frenzied pace of digital transformation and business-centric approaches, the fundamental craft of design—creating novel ideas and molding them into artifacts that embody grace, clarity, and simplicity—has been overshadowed. According to Holloway, this dilution of design's core competencies isn't just unfortunate; it’s a crisis that needs immediate correction.

Leadership in Design: A Distinct Mandate

The field of design leadership is at a crossroads. Holloway argues that design leaders often misunderstand their roles, emphasizing business acumen at the expense of genuine design expertise. "It's important to remind ourselves," Holloway says, "that CEOs don't hire design leaders to be general managers; they hire them to lead design both at the practice level and as expert practitioners of design. All too often, new design leaders focus on showcasing their business acumen to establish credibility, rather than emphasizing their expertise in design leadership. What we need are leaders who understand the nuances of delivering excellent design and who have confidence in both the profession and themselves to collaborate with peers and develop these capabilities. This ensures that the company's investment in design pays dividends."

In Holloway's perspective, design leaders who try to adapt their practice to operational models developed for other disciplines are failing in their primary mission. Instead, they should advocate for a culture in which design is on par with engineering and marketing, complete with its own timelines, processes, and most importantly, a level of respect.

Vision for Design Executive Council

When asked about his vision for DXC, Holloway is clear: "My goal is to fundamentally change business's relationship with design." In a world where design is transitioning from a functional necessity to a strategic differentiator, the DXC, guided by thought leaders like Holloway, is working to close the competency gap. The council aims to help businesses understand and appreciate design on the same level as they do other cornerstone departments like engineering or marketing. The ultimate ambition? To cultivate the next generation of design leaders that the profession not only needs but thoroughly deserves.

About

Matthew Holloway

Matthew Holloway is a design executive with over 30 years of experience at the intersection of creativity and business. As the co-founder of six startups and a design leader at industry giants like Apple, WebMD, Shutterfly, and SAP, he has consistently used design as a transformative force to shape corporate strategy and market position. Currently the Global Head of Design at SnapLogic, Matthew is pioneering the integration of generative AI into user experience, unlocking unparalleled value in data and applications. In addition to his professional roles, he shares his design wisdom as a faculty member at institutions such as Stanford and The Royal College of Art.

A thought leader in his field, Matthew also serves as a Board Advisor and Founding Member of Design Executive Council (DXC), aiming to elevate the role of design in business strategy. His insights and leadership have inspired a new generation of design professionals to ascend to executive roles in organizations worldwide.