Welcome to Brilliance@Work, a series of profiles about stellar professionals and their best practices at work.
Last week, I was reading “You’re a Design Entrepreneur. Not a Designer.” by Bradford Shellhammer, Founder & CEO at Bezar. I immediately thought of friend and design collaborator extraordinaire, Kong Cheong. Kong is more than a designer; he is a forward-thinking dedicated design leader.
As his career progressed, he became an art director, then a creative director and most recently, an innovation manager leading a Research & Development team.
Bradford Shellhammer also said that “designers make the world more beautiful. More functional. Safer. More special.” Read on to learn how this sentiment embodies Kong, his passion for design and how he makes the world a better, more special place:
Peggy Bieniek, ABC: What are you most interested in and speak most enthusiastically about?
Kong Cheong: I live and breathe design, even when I am not designing. I even created an acronym for D.R.E.A.M., which stands for Design Rules Everything Around Me. As design is related to start-ups, I think of how to enhance UI design on certain websites or an app layout, imagining the next best thing. It is like trying to solve a math problem. When you are not able to solve it, you will naturally get frustrated, but when you do finally solve it, it is the best feeling in your heart.
PB: What makes you stand out in a crowd of designers?
KC: Early in my design career, I won a t-shirt design competition held by the Atlanta chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA). I realized then that I wanted to use my talent to give back to the community. Shortly after, the U.S. economic crisis hit, which was unforgiving for a new graphic design graduate looking for a brighter future. I never gave up looking for a position, as I believed what my favorite professor told me, “In the times of economic crisis, brilliant companies will hire graphic designers rather than removing them, as marketing is what makes a company stand out.”
I was finally able to find a position as a graphic artist as well as a database administrator. This role jump-started my view on the true meaning of graphic design. It is not all about the design, but how to make the design work for you, as one of my mentors taught me how to automate information into the design. So I began my enthusiastic view into the technical side of design.
PB: What projects are you most proud of?
KC: I’m most proud of a dashboard that involved UI/UX design. To solve and innovate a different approach to a left navigation menu, I invented a left navigation accordion, reducing the height of the left navigation and creating a beautiful layout, which greatly improved and enhanced the user experience.
PB: What are some best practices you’ve developed and/or helped to implement?
KC: My innovation team and I developed a more nimble approach to projects that enabled the organization to more effectively and efficiently implement them. During this time, I adopted a saying, “If you can dream it, we can build it.”
PB: What are your current projects as you continue to develop your professional skills and knowledge?
KC: I am currently seeking a new opportunity while rebuilding my freelance design work and continuing my vision of helping businesses to grow. One of my concept projects is building a digital crowdsource magazine and sharing the earnings with story contributors. Another project, which I started in 2012, is called “Lovember,” a series of pictures of miniature bears in love. You can view it at https://behance.net/intricateflow under “Lovember 2012” and “Lovember 2013.”
PB: What is most important for prospective employers and clients to know about you?
KC: I like to do things differently. When I first begin learning a new process, I follow the outlined steps. After understanding and analyzing the steps, I create an improved process. I truly believe there is always a way to improve something whether it is a process, way of doing things, thoughts, and of course design which is what I love the most.
PB: Describe the work environment in which you most effectively contribute.
KC: I’ve worked in various work environments, and it is all about the ability to adapt. My ideal working environment is one that continuously supports learning while producing the best quality work, even in the most hectic situations. I love challenges, and the ability to overcome challenges is what makes me stronger.
PB: What are some of your favorite resources that inspire your work?
KC: One of my favorite websites is www.awwwards.com , a site that recognizes the best websites on the planet for their creativity. The other site that I like is www.behance.net , where artists from around the world showcase their work.
One of my most favorite things to do is travel. It can be far or near, but one thing for sure is that it will inspire me.
I also love to read local magazines to learn about local artists and events.
PB: What is your contact information for questions, comments and ideas?
KC: I look forward to hearing from your readers! Here is my contact information: