Courtenay Inchbald

I studied Philosophy at Durham and then Industrial Design at Central Saint Martins. I graduated with first class honours and I was recruited at the degree show by product design consultancy, Isis.

I worked with Isis for two years designing and/or inventing a wide variety of products including a chisel sharpener still on sale at B&Q 20 years later. 

I left Isis to take an MBA at Cranfield and then embarked on a strategy consulting career culminating in a senior role at British Telecom as Head of e-Commerce. 

Strategy is intellectually similar to product design, requiring the analysis and synthesis of diverse information. In this role I avoided or reversed out of a series of major investment blunders initiated by colleagues and investment banks, saving a significant proportion of shareholder value, but making numerous enemies.

I have since returned to product design with my own company Seskimo, which makes the Crabble, the only working iPhone stand to fit in a billfold wallet.

Why did you decide to study at Central Saint Martins?

I wanted to study at the school with the best reputation.

What was the best bit about living and studying in London?

I was a married, mature student already living in London, so it was convenient, rather than exciting, for me to live in London.

What top tips would you give to students who are beginning their studies?

Be prepared to work much harder than students on academic courses because a design project is never finished until the deadline. I certainly had to work much harder on Industrial Design at CSM than on Philosophy at Durham.

And for students about to graduate?

In the current environment, you cannot afford to turn your nose up at any job. You understand far less than you think you do about commercial reality and you need to start building your experience.

What are you up to now? How did you get there?

Through my company, Seskimo, I have just launched the Crabble, a wallet-sized stand for the iPhone, iPod Touch and similar devices. It's the only such stand in the world and it's the best-seller in all the channels through which it is sold. 

I got here by accident. I enjoy inventing and I blew my corporate career by, in the words of my last performance review at BT, "not being prepared to push the ethical boundaries far enough".

How has Central Saint Martins helped in your chosen career path?

CSM helped me develop as a designer by providing a wealth of facilities with some very supportive technical staff.