Meet the Team: Dan Lutger, Senior Design Manager
Welcome to Meet the Team, a monthly series that introduces you to the great talent and leadership at Label Insight. This month we’re excited to introduce our Senior Design Manager, Dan Lutger.
So Dan, tell me a little about how long you’ve been with the company and what your role entails.
Well, I started right after Dheeraj Patri, one of the founders, 8 years ago. I’m employee #1.
Wow! 8 years? How has your position here evolved over time?
My role has evolved from doing all front-end engineering and development for our web and mobile apps in addition to all the visual design for our marketing and logos to now focusing just on UI/UX and visual design for all our web products. My role has been based on what the company needs and what worked well with my skillset. Working at Label Insight, I've never felt like I'm stuck - I don't think anyone has. I've witnessed an employee come into the company into one role and end up doing something completely different because it interests them and they're given the support to do it successfully.
What is a typical day like for you?
I like to start early here or at the gym but sometimes I like to sleep in too. Mornings I get through email and I try to attend all the stand-ups since my role is involved across all the teams. The rest of the day is as much design as possible in-between other meetings.
What’s your favorite thing you get to do at Label Insight?
I like solving puzzles; I get to solve functional and usability problems with design. I like puzzles because when you’re done and you did a good job it feels like you’ve solved a Rubik’s cube or decrypted a secret code. The Label Insight tool itself is several puzzles put together and figuring out how they co-exist was yet another puzzle to solve. Presenting a lot of data with literally tens of thousands of facets in a way that allows people to get what they need is challenging and I think we’ve done a good job so far. We've definitely learned a lot and these lessons are what will help our tool be industry-leading.
What would you say is your most valuable skill when it comes to your current role?
My creativity. I am a fountain of ideas. I’m blessed with the problem of needing to learn to tame them as opposed to producing them.
What helps you bring those ideas into reality?
Not working in a silo really helps; the ideas need to be vetted by the team. Being sure you truly understand the problem and that you've simplified it in a way that someone with fresh eyes understands it is vital.
Why is what we’re doing at Label Insight important? Why does it matter?
You can have the best idea in the world but if you can’t turn that into a tangible functional thing that is usable and hopefully delightful, you’re not going anywhere.
What do you think the future of transparency in food looks like? How about consumer demand overall?
Transparency will continue to be like following a fractal. The microscope will only get stronger. We’re only at the beginning of understanding the implications of our decisions in terms of our own health, and the health of society, economies, and nature.
What are the most common questions you’re asked from internal team members?
“Can you fix this?”. That one warms my heart. I usually get asked about how to simplify other solutions or documents that are outside my normal work. I also get asked if the t-shirt i’m wearing is a band which usually is the case.
Those have been some pretty deep questions. Let’s talk about some fun stuff. What’s a fun fact about you?
I know how to pole vault and I’m a solid archer so I might be useful in a very specific Lord of the Rings type situation. I also play drums in several bands.
What’s your favorite office perk we have?
The anti-time clocks and being treated like an adult. That plus the video games if I can ever get a minute to actually play them.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in Chicago?
Bite. It’s a casual, not expensive place attached to my favorite rock venue. Every day they have specials of the day based on the market and their regular menu is fantastic. You will always get a good meal and more than a couple times I’ve had some of the best meals of my life there. It’s also where I proposed to my wife. It’s a favorite date night place of ours.
What is an item on your bucket list?
Everything. Well almost everything. I want to completely explore the entire world and hopefully other worlds.
What are some cool things you’ve already checked off your bucket list?
I’ve done a good deal of traveling; I’m very lucky in that regard. Paris is amazing. I like London a lot.
Finally, what makes you proud to work at Label Insight?
The people here are the sharpest and brightest I’ve ever worked with or even know about. This is an elite team. Plus everyone is down to earth and everyone feels like a friend.