Why did I study a design degree if I didn’t end up as a designer?

The most frequent question I am asked is “Why did you apply for a Strategic Planning role in a Creative Agency, having studied Industrial Design?”

There are several reasons why I chose to pursue a career in Strategic Planning at Ogilvy, however, I think it’s more important to speak about how cross-discipline collaboration is more common now than ever, so as an Industrial Designer, my application to work at Ogilvy isn’t really that ‘out of the ordinary’. 
For example, three of the things that Ogilvy has expertise in - brand loyalty, brand strategy, and customer experience – also exist in the realm of design, with the common denominator being strategic thinking.

Industrial Design laid the foundations for my understanding of strategy and how this type of thinking can be applied to problem solving. When I would start a design project, I would always be given a problem to solve - just like in the planning department. Usually the problem revolves around improving a user’s life, or just making it more fun. Before looking at how to design a new product or service, however, I always conducted research into who will be using it, where/when they will use it, and will they even want to use it. 

This process of realising the problem and exhausting all possible avenues to find the best and most interesting outcome, can be applied in any industry needing to create meaning, influence change, or challenge social norms. Whether it is in the design of a product or the implementation of a campaign, the plan is always human-centric and the outcome is always behavioural change.  

Admittedly, my knowledge of the Advertising world was - and is - limited. But, I knew it was a lot more than creating a television spot or a print ad. I knew that there was research and ideation behind business problems that drove these campaigns. So, I took the opportunity and applied for a graduate position at Ogilvy.

The title of your degree shouldn’t dictate what career you pursue. I can apply my learnings from design and my interest in strategy to the ever-challenging, but exciting, world of advertising. I would highly recommend anyone who is curious about extending out of their field of study to go for it, because new ways of approaching problems are always welcome!

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