Nicholas Stafford

Nicholas graduated in 2016. He is now self-employed and works as a Design and Innovation consultant.

In your experience, what was the best thing about the course?

The opportunity to explore and examine the meaning and relevance of innovation in theory and practice, especially in the course’s key academic study areas of design, culture and business. The first year of the course has pre-structured projects and topics, while the second year gives you more freedom to examine in greater depth your niche interest within innovation management. My self-initiated project gave me the opportunity to explore a topic I would not have had the time or resources to do in the ‘real-world’.

What did you most enjoy about the course?

The challenge. The course is designed to push you out of your comfort zone and question everything you do, know and say. The course is very demanding academically, expecting you to engage with many unfamiliar subjects and texts. The course also involves a lot of group project work with your fellow students who come from different cultures and have very different attitudes, backgrounds and life experiences. Both these challenges require a high-level of analytical thinking, collaboration and self-reflection. The course will change you! The person I was when I entered the course is not the same as the one who finished it.

What would you say your biggest personal achievement was as a student on the course? 

Unleashing the writer within me. Discovering I could express my creative-analytical thinking through writing. Having a background in design, I had always expressed myself and ideas through visual language but the course has opened another creative outlet.

Can you describe what your current job is i.e. what do you do, what are your responsibilities etc?

I design and advice on product development and innovative endeavours. This involves design research, creative exploration, developing concepts and constructing product strategies. Fundamentally my skills are in observing the world, identifying opportunities and then delivering outcomes; a mixture of problem solving, challenging pre-conceptions and generating inspiration. It’s a role which requires both emotional, imaginative prowess and rational, technical knowledge and understanding.

What do you most enjoy about it?

I’m a designer at heart. What I enjoy most is seeing an idea transform from a simple sketch on a piece of paper to something tangible in the real-world. This entails engaging with many different people, professions, business markets and sectors, which is part of the thrill of my job, namely: variety. One week I might have a very specific brief, developing something very technical and then the following something more open to creative expression and emotional storytelling.

Does your experience as a graduate of the course help you in your current job, and if so, how? 

Design ideologies and practices are always evolving while innovation is about understanding power relationships and the challenges of change and uncertainty. I’ve fundamentally grasped this notion through my studies, with the result that I feel I can better adapt and thrive in an unpredictable and irrational world. I think the course has helped to future-proof my professional ambitions and life in general by refining my inherent designer mind-set.