So what exactly is Design Thinking? Design Thinking is not only for designers and more than just another management fad.  It is the discipline of applying a designers’ way of thinking to business or social enterprise innovation. Students who enrol on the Design Thinking for Business Innovation short course at Central Saint Martins, come from a variety of working backgrounds be it creative, technical, or business.

But what happens afterwards, what do students go on to do?

We spoke to João Lopes de Almeida about his experience on the Design Thinking for Business and Innovation short course. Exploring how it has supported a career change as well as providing and informing a new international network.

Where do you live?

I live in the south of Brazil, in Porto Alegre.

What is your occupation?

After more than 20 years working in executive positions for different companies, I decided to become an entrepreneur and co-founded a new business called Preis & Lopes de Almeida, a commercial real estate development company in Brazil. In less than a year the company had acquired clients such as McDonalds, Lojas Renner (JC Peney) and other very important Brazilian retail chains.

Why did you chose to study Design Thinking for Business Innovation?

Firstly, I wanted to know how Design Thinking could be used to increase my entrepreneurial spirit and secondly, I wanted a challenge that had a human element to it. Design Thinking helps you to understand people’s needs, it allows for more experimentation, more creativity and it’s empirical, as assumptions are iteratively tested.

You live and work in Brazil. Why did you chose to study Design Thinking at Central Saint Martins?

After quitting my job to become an entrepreneur I decided that I wanted to study a Design Thinking course in one of the “big five” Art and Design institutions in the world.

An advertising professional friend in Brazil recommended Central Saint Martins, so I did my research and enrolled on Paul’s course (Paul Sturrock, tutor). It was such a great experience!

What was your first impression of Central Saint Martins?

In my opinion CSM is more a co-working and collaborative space than a college! And it makes all the difference! It’s modern, very well located, has a great atmosphere, amazing library and very interactive classrooms.

What did you enjoy most about your short course?      

Definitely the global interaction and the “make it happen” spirit that Paul Sturrock instills. Paul is such a great tutor and it was a privilege to be taught by him. He had the ability to teach a cohort made up of a variety of cultures, backgrounds and experiences in business, ensuring we all felt like we were on the “same page”.

João Lopes de Almeida presenting to the class

How has this course benefitted your career or personal development?

Firstly, it changed my view about problems. I remember the first slide of the course. It was an Einstein sentence that changed my life: “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions”.

Secondly, the network.  Good interaction with others on the course was key.  We started as classmates, then we became a team and, for some of us, good friends and advisors for life.

Finally, the book references, articles and most importantly, the sharing of information between the group and the professor! It hasn’t stopped, it just keeps going!

What would you say to someone who is thinking about taking this course?

Go for it!  And most importantly: make it happen!

What is the best thing about studying in London?

The best thing IS London. The city, the people, the pubs, the parties, the arts, the gastronomy, the parks, and the incredible diversity.

Design Thinking for Business Innovation is taught by Paul Sturrock, Associate Lecturer on the MA Innovation, MBA, and MA Arts & Cultural Enterprise courses at Central Saint Martins.   The next course runs from 3rd July to 14th July 2017. Please visit the Central Saint Martins Short Courses website for further details.