Surya Vanka is a global leader in hardware and software design, design strategy and design capability development. He is best known for his groundbreaking work in user experience at Microsoft, and for creating industry leading design practices such Design Swarms and Design Value Scorecard.

In his highly decorated 16-year career with Microsoft, Vanka quickly developed a reputation for directing global teams in the successful delivery of extremely complex, high profile, business critical initiatives. As the go-to man for the thorniest customer experience and technical design issues within the company, Vanka rose to become the Director of UX with responsibility for all Microsoft server products, and had a strong execution track record in shipping multiple products. Vanka instituted design patterns and practices that have now been widely adopted across Microsoft and partners, and was part of the core team that led the Metro Design language to be incorporated into various leading Microsoft products including the Xbox 360 system software, Xbox One, Windows 8, Windows Phone, Bing, Skype, and Outlook.com.

Vanka led Microsoft’s center of experience excellence team for several years, and helped to drive the transformation of the company towards an agile, growth-hacking, experience-first culture. He created company-wide programs to raise design capability at each stage of each engineer’s career and engineering team evolution, created a design maturity roadmap, a design gap assessment toolkit, and coached teams to utilize design as a competitive advantage. Vanka was routinely called upon to provide top executives and leaders with guidance on broader corporate design strategy. Vanka initiated the company-wide UX Awards program, led the annual UX day in Redmond that attended each year by 2000+ engineers, and satellite UX day events in each development center around the world. His work won two Microsoft Engineering Best Practice Awards, a Microsoft Achievement Award, an Accessibility Achievement Award, the World Brand Congress Leadership Award and several industry recognitions.

Prior to Microsoft, Vanka was a tenured professor of design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a fellow at the prestigious Center for Advanced Study and the authored two books on design. Surya is an accreditor for university curricula in the United States and Europe, leads cross-company design initiatives and serves on the advisory board of the Design Management Institute and Design in Public. Vanka is frequently invited to keynote the most prestigious conferences, and has won top speaker awards three times. His work has appeared in numerous publications and news programs, including Form, I.D., Design Council, WIRED, Interactions, the BBC and National Public Radio.

Vanka initiated and was part of the core team that created the DMI Design Value Scorecard, and is the creator of a light weight, agile and adaptable design technique called Design Swarms – both of these practices are quickly being adopted in business, non-profit and education. He recently chaired the hugely successful 50th Anniversary Conference of Industrial Designers Society of America. The theme of the conference was “The Future of the Future: The Next 50 Years,” and the bold ambition brought together 800 designers from 20 countries, ranging from Australia to India, and Chile to Somalia, to spark the reinvention of design for 21st century.

Vanka lives in Seattle and leads AUTHENTIC that provides design consulting to clients worldwide in UX design, interaction design, futures prototyping, service design, agile UX, UX metrics and design strategy.