Here in Design for America, we think DFAers are pretty amazing- not only for their work in DFA, but who they are as people and leaders. As such, we’re taking some time to feature a couple of them on our blog here. Get to know DFA Case Western-CIA founder and leader, Sara Mesing!
Why did you decide to go to business school?
I put a lot of time into determining whether grad school, and what grad program, would be the best fit for me. I had worked in print media with enough designers to notice that they approached problems differently. That intrigued me. I had worked in enough dysfunctional organizations to know there had to be a better way, and that to lead organizational change you needed to understand Accounting. My interests in Organizational Behavior and Design pointed me towards Business School and I only applied to programs that offered opportunities in both and decided on Case Western.
I choose the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western because they have a Design track within their MBA curriculum and they are world renowned for Org Behavior. However, when I arrived I found that there was no opportunity to get involved in Design until the 2nd year of the program. There wasn’t even a Design Club. I took my compliant to Fred Collopy, one of the Design professors, who said I should start one, and I should start by looking at Design for America. One look at the DFA website, and I was hooked. Using human-Centered Design for positive local change? This was what I was looking for!
We hear you were selected as a representative of your school to participate in Nudge Design Camp in Denmark. What was this experience like?
It was phenomenal. Design students from all over the world fly to Denmark to participate. We were divided into design teams, assigned a client and given a brief. We had two weeks to re-frame the brief, talk to users, prototype, present and pitch to the client. Our client was a small Danish bank facing increasingly lower customer loyalty and lower switching costs due to the widespread adoption of online banking. They wanted a solution that made banking tangible again. We applied the nudge framework throughout the design process, and eventually produced a bankcard with tactile feedback technology. I absolutely loved the work. I loved working with international designers from all corners of the field; textile to interaction to industrial to graphic to fashion. I learned so much, and am so grateful.
You’ve also mentioned that you are doing research with Richard (Dick) Buchanan. What is this research about?
Yes, I did an independent study with Dick Buchanan this Fall. He is fantastic and kept getting annoyed at me when I would say that I’m not a designer! With his encouragement, I explored the obstacles and opportunities that Design provides for Business. As a proxy, I used the obstacles and opportunities that our DFA Studio faced in surviving and thriving within the university setting.
What did you do in your internship this summer?
I worked at Eventbrite in San Francisco as the Marketing Strategy MBA Intern. I was assigned to the company’s highest growth vertical, classes and education, which means folks using the Eventbrite ticketing platform to offer a class or workshop. The task was to increase user acquisition as quickly and broadly as possible. The private education market is huge and extremely fragmented, so it was tough, but I learned a ton.
What’s next for you (if plans are known!)?
After graduation in May, I’ll be heading back to San Francisco. I am fully engaged in the job search now, and hope to secure a position in an online marketing agency that leverages Design as part of their value prop, or join a Design firm engaged in organizational re-building.
We look forward to hearing more from you Sara!