Diana Tran graduated with a Bachelors of Architecture and a Minor in Graphic Design from Woodbury University. As a Senior Store Design Manager at Guess? Inc., Diana has been responsible for more than 1,000 retail remodel projects and store designs. Diana currently leads a team of planners who are responsible for more than 300 new stores in the Americas, Europe and Asia. We caught up with Diana and asked her about her career as a designer and how her studies at Woodbury prepared her for the profession.
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishments both personally and professionally?
Being published in the Retail : Design Magazine in the 40 under 40 article, there were 130 nominations so being selected is such an honor. To be ranked amongst some of highest young leaders of the retail design industry has to be one of the most rewarding and greatest feats professionally. Personally, it encourages me and drives me to work even harder, search deeper, and be even better to hit that next bench mark in order to accomplish the next goal.
What advice would you give to younger alumni or current students who aspire to follow a similar career path?
Create your own path for success. You don’t have to go the conventional route to be happy or successful. Do what brings you joy, teaches you the most and allows you to grow as a person. As cliche as it sounds, the trick is to think outside of the box. Build a strong foundation for yourself, understand the fundamentals, and explore and search for something that suits your personality. The profession is bigger and wider than you may perceive and so is your career path in the industry. You can find your own way as long as you have to work hard. Doesn’t matter how you do it, you have to give it 110%.
What would you say to a prospective student who is considering Woodbury University?
Travel. Travel. Travel. Take advantage of the travel programs, these moments you experience with your fellow classmates and professor are invaluable. Vising China and Europe with some of the best professors in the industry (Nick Roberts, Jerry Smulevich, Eric Olsen, John Southern, Ingalill Wahlroos-Ritter and Paulette Singley), they hand crafted my study abroad education and showed me how to experience architecture in a different way.
Woodbury offers a ton of travel opportunities and it allows students to see and explore the world in the best way. No matter which program you decide to enroll in, travel to open you up your mind and eyes to see things outside. You will never forget the experiences and it will help you in the future as you reflect and relate back to them.
Woodbury also offers courses that allowed me to compliment my architecture degree; I was able to study architecture and graphic design. Through the graphic design program I was able to learn typography, screen printing and photography, all of which enhanced my architectural studies.
What is your lasting impression of studying architecture at Woodbury?
The care and compassion you get from the faculty. My experience wouldn’t have been the same without the professors who spent their time to mentor me throughout my education. Professors like Ewan Branda, Mark Owen, Niku Kashef, Christine Carmichael and Meredith Strauss have had a lasting impression due to their hard work and dedication to their students. It’s so amazing to know people who dedicate their time and energy to share and teach about their own passion to students and the next generation of professionals. It has influenced me in great ways and encourages me to do the same.
What do you like best about your current position?
It’s a very fast paced environment with constant change. Working on international projects has been the true test. We receive information in so many different languages, sometimes you have no idea what things say. You realize drawing and sketches are the universal language. You can communicate anything with a drawing. It has challenged me to problem solve through design.
What projects have you worked on that you’re most proud of?
Currently working on projects around the world, it has been an amazing accomplishment to be designing on a global level. It is very rewarding to know that my I am contributing to something located thousands of miles away in a foreign country. The best is when I actually get to travel with my team to visit these projects—that feeling is priceless!
What have been the biggest challenges in your career? Did your experiences at Woodbury help you to overcome any obstacles?
There is a lot of competition in the industry. There will always be people striving to be better, to be stronger, and to be ahead of you. Everything is competitive in the working world so you always have to be ahead of the game. Do your homework, do your research, do your best and never settle because there will always be someone waiting to take your spot.
Describe Woodbury University in 3 words.
Discipline. Community. Perseverance.