Cesar Rivera channels the designer in all of us

Gloria Choi Aug 9, 2018 • 4 min read

When Cesar Rivera purchased a home two years ago, he relied on his agent to guide him through the complex process. For an entire year, Cesar visited homes for sale. Each weekend he walked away disappointed until finally, he discovered his new home.

Looking back, Cesar recognizes the benefits of the home-buying process—he loves his home and remains grateful to his agent. However, as a designer, Cesar can’t help but look for opportunities to improve the home-buying experience. Interviewing Cesar, I could identify his drive to innovate. At ZapLabs and within his personal life, Cesar strives towards improvement.

How long have you been with the company?

“I joined ZapLabs back in November.” Cesar on-boarded as a Lead Product Designer just last year, although his design experience extends far beyond that.

Tell us a bit about what you do here. 

Early in his career, Cesar worked on freelance projects. He then shifted to working for and leading small teams at Autodesk and IBM until finally transitioning into ZapLabs. Now, Cesar oversees and manages designers. “Part of my role here is to ensure that my designers deliver to their teams.” Here at ZapLabs, designers work between the UX researchers and product managers. After receiving information from the researchers about agent and consumer needs, the designers create user interfaces for product managers and developers to implement.

“Some people think design is only for designers, but we are all designers in some sense. It’s part of being human.”

What brought you into the field of design? 

Cesar propelled his career in design as early as middle school, drawing posters for school. “From then on, I continued designing and freelancing. It was random.” Cesar never made a conscious shift to become a designer. Rather, it touched every aspect of his life: “It’s always been a part of what I do.” 

Why do you like working at ZapLabs? 

As a recent homebuyer, Cesar has familiarized himself with the real estate process. Were it not for his agent,Cesar would have felt lost. Amidst the chaos of paperwork, negotiations, and loans, Cesar realized several instances of frustration. “I was really disappointed in the entire process.” Cesar sees his role at ZapLabs as an opportunity to instill change within the real estate process. 

How do you feel you have grown since starting? 

“I feel like we have the advantage of a smaller space. I have the opportunity to see the branding, product, research, and marketing teams hustling about. I see different teams work with one another.” ZapLabs’ tight-knit community challenges Cesar to learn more about other departments and has expanded his understanding of the team’s organizational structure. 

What do you like to do for fun? 

Cesar enjoys getting in touch with nature. Recently, he has picked up gardening, but he finds his true joy in cycling. “I love biking. Just last week I went on a 40 mile bike ride. It’s a time where I can think, relax, let go of things. I’m able to think more creatively.” 

What would your dream home look like? 

“The one I have now, of course!” Cesar spent every weekend for almost a year visiting homes in the Bay Area. Then, his agent introduced him to a property close to Santa Rosa, and he couldn’t resist. “We found this place, and it was immediate love. You walk up the stairs and the main floor is high up in the hill. It feels so isolated and has an incredible view. There are redwoods all around there. It has everything we need.”

Cesar’s home, surrounded by redwoods. Once, a friend of Cesar visited his home and exclaimed, "You live in a treehouse!"

Cesar’s home, surrounded by redwoods. Once, a friend of Cesar visited his home and exclaimed, "You live in a treehouse!"

Do you have a favorite quote? 

“Not a quote, but I could tell you a philosophy. My own quote!” Cesar ties the principles of his career into his daily living. Just as he iterates on his design processes, Cesar strives towards improvement in every aspect of life. “Some people think design is only for designers, but we are all designers in some sense. It’s part of being human.” 



Gloria Choi

Gloria is a Product Marketing Associate at ZapLabs, supporting the team to develop engaging content for the Community and to mediate product communications between internal and external stakeholders. Gloria is a recent graduate of UC Berkeley, where she received her BA in English.