Alumni Spotlight: Heather Bybee ’10
Industrial designer Heather Bybee is somewhat surprised to find herself an expert in package design. “I actually did not intentionally get into packaging,” she stated. “My first job was a Creative Intern for OtterBox working with their packaging graphic designers and packaging engineers. I really enjoyed learning how packaging is a major component in overall product launches.” Ever since that internship, she has specialized in structural packaging design while also doing graphic design and engineering support for the teams and companies she has worked for. A 2010 graduate of Auburn’s School of Industrial and Graphic Design (SIGD), Bybee also holds a Master of Arts in Design Strategy and Innovation from Brunel University London.
In addition to working for OtterBox, Bybee has worked in-house for Microsoft and spent several years at the design studio Ammunition, most recently as their Director of Packaging Design. She recently was named the Senior Packaging Design Manager at PAX Labs where she creates all packaging across the company’s hardware, accessories and consumable categories. “I like a lot of variety in my work, so the opportunity to work in a new and emerging industry across a range of formats makes the job very interesting,” she said. “On the same day I can be working on packaging for electronics, accessories or consumable products that spans substraints from paper, plastic and metal to molded fiber, corrugated and many others.”
Over the course of her career, she has created package designs for brands like Beats by Dre, Lyft, Microsoft, Polaroid and Square. She says she particularly has enjoyed working with new startups that are launching their very first products. “Everything is designed and developed from scratch, and I was a part of every decision made and component created,” she said. “It’s really rewarding to see something you designed manifest physically for sale in store or online and posted on social media. It’s fun to watch someone unboxing the product on YouTube.”
Bybee is an active SIGD alum who was a featured speaker at the College of Architecture, Design and Construction’s Day of Design in 2022. She participates in SIGD’s mentorship program, recently created by Associate Professor Ben Bush, and loves sharing her professional knowledge with current students. Bybee advises them to value the basics they are taught at the beginning of their design education and says the most important thing she learned in SIGD was how to solve problems creatively. “This mindset can be applied to any industry wherever you land after graduation. Companies are interested in how you think, how you solve problems and your process along the way. Framing your studios and projects more objectively as a story to tell about how you identified a problem and creatively solved it will be very advantageous in future job interviews.”
Bybee’s work can be viewed at heather-bybee.com.