Life at Cleo

What Do You Do? Design Manager

Kate joined Cleo as a Design Manager in July 2023. She’s growing our design team in 2024, so we caught up with her to find out what product designers get up to.

A photo of Kate Pincott, Design Manager at Cleo.

Tell Us a Bit About Your Background

I’ve worked in a rich mix of industries, from banking to gaming, blockchain to fashion, art and climate crisis. Quite a variety! I’ve always been a multifaceted, curious person, and I’ve found that having diverse experiences across industries has benefitted me when I start new roles. I believe we design to live well, not live to design well.

Before joining Cleo, I was working at an equally mission driven company that was building a product using blockchain technology. The company was a pioneer in the ‘real world tokenisation’ and sustainability space, giving physical objects a digital passport to increase reliability of claims made about the products we buy and to legally hold people accountable for these claims. I loved working in a transdisciplinary environment at the very forefront of innovation. 

Before this, I was freelancing as Design Coach for designers at Amazon, Figma, Monzo etc.,  and was a manager at a range of companies, from big data companies like GFK to small gaming startups like Playdeo. These varied experiences taught me how to listen, adjust and adapt to different stages that a company is in. I learned to adapt my management style and guidance based on experience of people in the team. 

Aside from my design leadership roles, I’ve also gone through coaching training. Coaching has taught me to ask better questions, to believe the thinker has the answers they need already inside them and to use deep listening to get to the heart of a problem. This way of thinking introspectively has definitely helped me to adapt to tackling economic empowerment at Cleo.

Why Did You Choose Cleo?

One of my values is around justice and equality, and one of the fastest ways to move the needle in the quality of someone’s life is to help them to understand their money. 

Most of the finance industry is inaccessible to the majority of people because of the jargon that people use and the lack of primary school education in basic household budgeting. Cleo is changing the way that people talk about money, making it more of a two way conversation in simple language, to empower people to take action on their financial goals.

To put it simply, I wanted to be a part of that.

What Is the Role of a Product Designer at Cleo?

In some Product Design roles in other companies, you have to be scrappy and make things fast based on assumptions. At Cleo, we’re far more methodical and hypothesis driven. We use data, both quantitative and qualitative, to inform our decisions. 

We have an embedded data analyst in every squad, meaning data leads and informs everything we do at Cleo. As designers, we engage with product analysts on a weekly basis to make sure we’re making the best decisions for our users.

Designers at Cleo don’t necessarily need to be the most data literate, but a natural curiosity and desire to dig into the data is essential.

Successful designers at Cleo are very intentional with what they do. They don’t jump into figma and try to solve a problem without first understanding the problem space and gathering the quant and qual data we have proactively themselves first. They are proactive, anticipating what questions need to be asked, heading off like a good detective to find the answers. 

In the innovation space there are no longer precedents you can lean on, so successful Cleo designers are comfortable with navigating ambiguity and trusting their gut to enable decisive action and iterative consistent progress.

We’re Extending Our Squads!

We’re looking to build more products that will help our users get money smart, and we need more great people to help us make that a reality. 

If you’re interested in joining our team of designers, then read on!

What Will New Product Designers Work On?

We have 4 pillars which designers can work on. Usually designers will work with one pillar at a time. 

  • Spend Better: helping users to spend less than they earn. This pillar focuses on building products that coach users into better money habits so they can spend less and save more!
  • Smash Fees: building out our paid subscription products. This pillar helps our users grow credit scores and reduce reliance on cash advance, which is only designed to be an interim solution to avoiding those awful banking overdraft fees.
  • Payments & Risk: building out how to keep our payment flows simple and secure, including a lot of work around regulation and keeping accounts safe.
  • Growth: helping to get Cleo in front of more users. This pillar works on the incremental optimisation of our products to help us scale as well as for both organic and paid marketing.


  • Experience Platform: We are also spinning up a Design System squad. This squad will help us with improvements in information architecture across the app, as well as standard work on single source of truth and component libraries to increase our shipping speed and UX quality.

What Kind of Product Designer is Cleo Looking For?

We’re all working towards a hugely important issue of financial empowerment. Alignment and drive towards our mission is crucial for anyone who’s looking to join our team (and the rest of Cleo).

As a company, Cleo’s been focussed on business metrics for a while. We’re now in a phase that’s much more focussed on user experience. We’re looking to rebalance the ship, making the user experience more delightful. So we’re looking for designers that can advocate for the users’ needs vs. business needs. We want to have a team of designers who can articulate with strong rationale the trade offs that we’re making when making design decisions. That being said, knowing which battle to pick and when to let it go is why ‘pragmatism’ is also a valuable skill to have! 

It goes without saying in a startup environment that we’re looking for people who learn at speed. In fact, it’s one of our values. As a designer at Cleo, you’re expected to come up with ideas on a Monday, prototype and test them by Friday. 

We’re looking for candidates who can demonstrate structured thinking, and methodology. We want you to clearly highlight moments you’ve designed based on assumptions, with some sort of research confidence level. 

We’d always rather our designers show than tell. We come to meetings with visualized versions of your thinking. Whether that be sketches, maps or flows, it’s always easier to get stakeholders on board with visuals. 

A healthy dose of resilience and adaptability are also so important in the rapidly evolving world of AI, but above all, we hire people with great emotional intelligence, who will make great team mates. 

We also want to hear about your superpowers! Outside of the job description, what are you great at? Whether it’s data visualization, quality measurement, animation or design operations, we’d love you to tell us about those extra’s with examples of your impact. We’re building out a well-rounded team and want to hear what you can bring to the team–we have a broad range of interests and experiences between us.

Do you have any interview tips?

The first one sounds quite obvious, but please do research Cleo! Both from a product and an employee perspective, we have a range of info available on our website and our blog, which you’re reading now–gold star for you!

I’d always recommend doing some research on your interviewers too. You can check out their linkedin, or they may have written blog posts too.

I’d recommend preparing for your interview with the STAR format in mind. People often forget to talk in depth about the action part of their answer. We want to know exactly what you did to get to a result. For example: If you led a workshop, what exactly did you do in the workshop? What was your role specifically? How did you personally prepare for the workshop? Clue: these are all observable behaviors or ‘doing’ words.

Where possible, try to keep answers short and to the point. Being brief and decisive will help your interviewer to get through all of their questions. If an interviewer does ask follow up or clarification questions, please don’t worry. We just want to get to know you and how you work as much as possible in the short time we have together. The more we can ping pong in a season the better.

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