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How Australian businesses can embrace design thinking - insights from world-leading experts

  • Written by Madelaine-Rose MacLulich

Pre-eminent experts in design thinking come together for Good Design Australia’s annual Design as Strategy Forum
Leaders from Nike, Aurecon, Deloitte, and more will explore how design thinking is essential for staying competitive in the modern business world

 OCTOBER SYDNEYCelebrating its fifth year running, the Design as Strategy Forum explores in detail how established design principles can be applied in the context of business and the economy.

The forum, which has become one of the most respected design and business gatherings in the Asia-Pacific region, will bring together an eclectic mix of thought leaders from around the world, sharing insights on how to leverage design thinking to challenge existing business practices and shift towards a more customer- and human-centric approach.

The forum will take place from 9:00 am on 23 October at The Customer Experience Company, Macquarie Place, Sydney. Tickets can be purchased here.

CEO of Good Design Australia, Dr Brandon Gien, said that since the forum launched in 2012, interest from the business community has grown exponentially.

“There is a huge demand and interest in design thinking as it applies to the business sphere. As a discipline, it has proven to be highly effective for disrupting internal processes and enabling businesses to innovate and remain relevant in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Design creates new chains of understanding, which changes the types of ideas that are thinkable, and ultimately re-invents what we imagine to be possible. This applies to everything from product development and service efficiency through to industry re-invention.

With the over-arching theme of ‘Design to Innovate – Innovation as an Object of Design’, the panel of esteemed speakers willaddress the many ways that design applies to business and industrial structure, recognising and exploring the multiplicity of levelsthat design is able to inspire and drive innovation.

This year’s speakers include:

  • Giam Swiegers, Global Chief Executive Officer, Aurecon
  • Laura Dye, Director of Global Organization Development, Nike USA
  • Innes Willox, Chief Executive, Australian Industry Group (AI Group)
  • Ben Hamley, Partner and Strategy Designer, Business Models Inc
  • Roberto Verganti, Professor of Leadership and Innovation, School of Management, Politecnico di Milano Italy
  • Tharani Jegatheeswaran, Partner, Social Impact Consulting, Deloitte
  • Peter Freedman AM, Founder and Chairman, RODE Microphones and The Freedman Group. 

“The Design as Strategy Forum brings a diverse range of experts together, enabling their combined views to recognise, explore and inspire the application of design in business at all levels.

“Specifically, speakers from leading brands including Nike, Aurecon, Australian Industry Group and Deloitte will consider how design fuels innovation, which in turn evolves businesses and the economy. A multiplicity of ideas, from granular notions to big picture perspectives, will be brought together under one roof to challenge and extend business constructs beyond traditional remits,” said Dr Gien.

Design as Strategy Forum 2017 speakers:

Giam SwiegersGlobal Chief Executive Officer Aurecon
Recently, Aurecon was ranked the fifth most innovative company 2017 by the Australian Financial Review. Aurecon operates in 28 countries with a team of over 7,500 engineers and a net revenue of over $1.0 billion. Giam was Chief Executive Officer of Deloitte in Australia from 2003 to 2015. During this period, the Australian firm grew to a practice of over 650 partners and 6,000 people, with a net revenue of over $1 billion. View Giam's full profile here.

Laura DyeDirector of Global Organization DevelopmentNike USA
At Nike, Laura focuses on organisation strategy and design across the company, and for brands like Jordan and Converse. She also worked as a design studio director, taking a fresh look at people, practices and processes. Previously, she worked as a design strategy manager for Johnson & Johnson’s Global Strategic Design Office, where she created strategies for beauty brands and technologies and used design thinking to shift organisational culture and product development process. Dye has 14 years of experience in strategy, product design and development and co-creation. View Laura’s full profile here.

Ben HamleyPartner and Strategy DesignerBusiness Models Inc
Ben 'specialises in not specialising', and is a passionate advocate of interdisciplinary entrepreneurship and the role of the creative industries in strategy and innovation. He has advised some of Australia's top-tier enterprises and government departments including the National Australia Bank, BASF, Corrs Chambers Westgarth Lawyers, the Australia Federal Department of Employment and the Queensland state government's Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation. Most recently, Ben led a research project for the Queensland state government's Advancing Regional Innovation program. View Ben’s full profile here.

Roberto Vergantiprofessor of Leadership and InnovationSchool of ManagementPolitecnico di Milano Italy
Roberto Verganti directs the Leadin'Lab, a laboratory for Leadership, Design and Innovation. He has been a visiting scholar at the Harvard Business School twice, the Copenhagen Business School and the California Polytechnic University. View Roberto's full profile here.

Innes WilloxChief Executive Australian Industry Group (AI Group):
AI Group is a leading industry organisation representing businesses in a broad range of sectors including manufacturing, construction, transport, defence, ICT and labour hire. Innes served as the Australian Consul General to LA from 2006 to 2008, where he represented wide-ranging Australian interests. Previously he was Chief of Staff to the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, and earlier he held a number of private sector and government positions including Manager of Global Public Affairs for Singapore Airlines based in Singapore.

Tharani Jegatheeswaran, Partner, Social Impact Consulting, Deloitte
Tharani leads Deloitte Australia’s Social Impact Consulting practice, a specialist practice that works at the intersection of the not-for-profit (NFP) sector, government and business to tackle society’s most pressing challenges. Tharani has over 12 years’ experience as an advisor to not-for-profit organisations, government agencies and business. Her areas of experience include strategic planning, growth, financial sustainability, innovation, operating model design, governance, and risk management. View Tharani's full profile here

Peter Freedman AMFounder and ChairmanRODE Microphones and The Freedman Group
Emigrating to Australia from Sweden as a boy, Peter Freedman built Freedman Electronics, the music shop opened by his parents in 1967, into one of the largest pro audio businesses in the world – RØDE Microphones. RØDE designs and manufactures studio, broadcast and live microphones in Sydney and exports to 113 countries – the number one microphone in several categories. Driven by Peter’s determined vision, RØDE is a singular Australian success story, and a proud sponsor of Good Design Australia. View Peter’s full profile here.

Gerhard Vorster, a patron of Good Design Australia, will bring the Design as Strategy Forum to a close and deliver the closing keynote address. Maureen Thurston, Chair of Good Design Australia, will moderate the event.

About Good Design Australia

Good Design Australia is an international design promotion organisation responsible for managing Australia's annual GoodDesign Awards program as well as a number of leading industry award programs including the Victorian Premier's DesignAwards and the Young Australian Design Awards program.

With a proud heritage dating back to the Industrial Design Council of Australia (IDCA) established in 1958, the Australian GoodDesign Awards is recognised by the World Design Organization (WDO) as  Australia’s peak design endorsement program.