ADPList: Democratizing Design Mentorship for All

ADPList is on a mission to democratize mentorship for everyone. Read how they are changing the conversation about design education.

Jay Perlman

A little over a year ago, Felix Lee and James Baduor hacked out their first no-code website. This session occurred while the pandemic was starting to rage throughout the world. Still, these two internet friends knew that people desperately tried to learn and get expert advice despite the situation.

Attending this hack were a couple of strangers who had a free weekend and sought guidance on building a no-code website. As the session progressed and the hackathon came to a close, it was clear that Felix and James had achieved something they didn't expect: both Felix and James had made a new group of friends who viewed them as their newly appointed mentors.

It didn't take long for Felix and James to realize the shining lightbulb that was forming over their heads: people around the world were asking for fair and straightforward  way to access industry professionals as mentors.

This realization led to a brand new endeavor and an idea that would shape how people learn: ADPList. James and Felix were now on a mission to democratize mentorship and bring top-tier guidance to mentees worldwide.

The Beginning Days of ADPList

As freshly minted co-founders, both Felix and James had it clear: they needed to help inspire powerful conversations and collaborations among designers worldwide so together they can change the world with creativity. This became the ADPList tagline and the driving message behind their plan of action

Banner featuring a headshot of Felix Lee Co-founder of ADPList

Here's how James described those beginning days, "It was initially a side project, and folks started joining in as volunteers. And 14 months later, we now have 8 employees and 20 volunteers."

The single-year growth has been remarkable, and now with a community of 2,000+ students and mentors, it's clear that ADPList has uncovered a fundamentally new way of teaching and learning design.

What ADPList Offers

Individuals seeking the ideal mentor for their learning purposes are offered a direct way to accessing industry professionals on the website. This happens by first choosing the area of focus or expertise that the student is most interested in:

  • AR/VR Design
  • Creative Design
  • DesignOps
  • Design Recruiting
  • Design Research
  • Design Writing
  • Game Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Growth Design
  • Industrial Design
  • Interaction Design
  • Interior Design
  • Motion Design
  • No-code development
  • Product Design
  • Product Management
  • UI/UX Design
  • Visual Design

Just from this list, it's easy for everyone to see that ADPList has extensive connections for learning whatever facet of design a potential mentee is looking for.

For those looking to narrow down their search, even more, Felix offered up some cool tips on finding the right mentor for your area of interest, "A pro tip for looking for any mentors, leverage the filters and advanced filters. Before you book a session, make sure this mentor can offer you insights with their relevant experiences."

Of course, it's not just the subjects that make ADPList, but also the quality of those who can become mentors.

The Mentors

ADPList is not a place where anyone with little experience can offer their time as a mentor. Far from it, actually! The vetting process to become a mentor is rigorous and selective. Here are the baseline requirements someone must have to be considered:

  • Relevant experience in the industry ( > 3 years)
  • Past experience in a role mentoring/leading junior mid-level people
  • Passionate about mentoring and sharing

These are the sheer minimum prerequisites a mentor must have. According to James and Felix, the selection process requires quite a bit more to become one of these leaders, "we vet through every single mentor application, and this can take up to a couple of weeks sometimes. We have an approval rate of ~30%. This is to ensure quality and passionate mentors in the community."

It's one thing to say the vetting process selects the best-of-the-best, but it just takes one look at the lineup of mentors to see that they really choose from the crème de la crème.

Mark Manalaysay - Interactive Design Lead at Apple

Mark Manalaysay, interactive design lead at Apple

Just one look at Mark's job title and there's no question that he's the real deal. Mentees are genuinely able to access knowledge from an industry-leading designer who works for one of the most successful companies of all time.

Mark, however, isn't just interested in being just a good mentor, "A good Mentor is someone that's able to use their existing knowledge base and experience to help others out. Lots can do this..."

Instead, Mark has his sights set on being a truly excellent mentor for those seeking his expertise, "An excellent mentor takes the time to treat each interaction with their mentee as a curated session, where you know them enough to give them tailored advice for their specific needs and also can make it a more bespoke type of experience."

Having mentors like Mark make ADPList different from any other mentorship competition out there and makes it an exceptional community that can truly advance a person's career.

Niamh Harman - Design Lead at Salesforce

Niamh Harman, Design Lead at salesforce

Another verified professional in the design field, Niamh's talents help shape a different juggernaut in the tech industry. What Niamh and many other creative mentors have in common is their drive and ability to empower others.

Here's what she is currently doing at Salesforce, "I am now focusing on digital tools that empower the internal workforce of Salesforce, so it's amazing to now focus on this area with a global leader in the tech space."

Her expertise is appreciated beyond her colleagues at Salesforce. Niamh is loaded with rave reviews from mentees she has gained through ADPList. Going even further, many of these mentees have had life-changing experiences because of her guidance, "I make the most meaningful connections from mentoring. The best part is getting a text or an email from the mentee later on telling you they have found the dream job."

When the mentees come first, and their dreams are realized, ADPList proves that democratizing mentorship is the future.

Sin Leung - Director, User Experience at Estée Lauder

Sin is another example of a rockstar professional who generously gives her time to those seeking to improve their skillset. As a Director of User Experience, she knows what it takes to design with solutions in mind.

But it's not just their expertise in designing solutions. She also is an experienced powerlifter, which has helped her bring her tenacious appetite for improvement to a new level. Based on the testimonials of her mentees, it's further evidence that mentors from ADPList are not fooling around when it comes to providing the best guidance possible.

Mosope Adebowale - User Experience Designer at KPMG Canada

Mosope Adebowale, User Experience Designer at KPMG Canada

Another mentor with a list of accolades and tons of experience to share with mentees, Mosope, is another member of ADPList that should excite prospective mentees.

When asked about passion for mentorship and passing on design knowledge, this is what he had to say, "I am super passionate about passing knowledge to as many designers as I can. I hope to see a generation of designers that support each other and create products that affect how we humans live our lives day to day."

Support is a key characteristic with ADPList, and it's easy to notice that this is a true community that wants to build each other up. This type of guidance and training further establishes that mentorship of this style could become the new status quo.

Kristine Yuen - Design Manager at LinkedIn

Kristine Yuen, Design Manager at LinkedIn

For the last 5 years, Kristine has been using her design skills to drive product strategy and design execution from a user-centric perspective. Her work is impactful on a global scale, but this does not outshine her passion for mentorship.

Kristine is motivated not just on a level of passing knowledge either. Instead, she is about delivering mentees life-changing advice, "Everyone needs a start somewhere, but sometimes all it takes is one person to believe in you and help you change your life."

Change comes from people who are willing to go the extra mile for others, and that is exactly the mentality that Kristine takes with her when guiding her mentees.

Robert Paige - Senior Motion Designer at Instacart

Robert Paige Senior Motion Designer at Instacart

Robert is a straight shooter, and as a mentor, he won't be sugarcoating any advice or feedback for his mentees. There's a method to his thinking, and it's one aimed at achieving the best outcome possible for those that rely on him.

"Being honest with the mentee you are working with. Nothing is more important than telling them what they need to hear. One thing I see mentors struggle with is being honest and blunt."

To go with being honest is a large amount of empathy, and Robert knows that being able to relate and understand human issues is equally important for success.

Becoming a Part of ADPList

Whether you or someone you know is searching for a mentor to elevate your knowledge of design, you can rest assured that there will be a tried and true professional who is eager to help you accomplish your goals. Or, on the other hand, for those who want to help others achieve their design dreams, ADPList is growing and constantly looking for more mentors. Maybe you're the right person for the job!

Unlock your own creative superpowers