Design management students head into the boardroom at BT's Birmingham headquarters

Students from our MA Design Management course presented their ideas to BT Headquarters on ways the company could understand and improve on user safety and customer experiences. Here's what happened as they headed in to a boardroom of top executives at the iconic brand.

Presenting to BT was an exciting experience for our students. It started with a quick elevator ride to the top floors of the BT headquarters in Birmingham city centre. The atmosphere at BT was of 'nervous excitement' as described by the students, and the view of the Birmingham skyline was beautiful.

There could not have been a more suitable panel with Kevin Lee (Chief Digital Officer, BT), Jeanette Clement (Head of Service Design and User Research, BT), Martin Price (Service Designer, BT), Arthur Chan (Interim User-Research Manager, BT), Andy Ireland (Service Design Manager, EE) and Ian Shepherd (Director of Professional Studies, Birmingham City University).

They gave critical and constructive feedback to each of the four teams. The students learned from industry experts and grasped the key drivers of innovation - human needs/experience, technological functionality and business viability.

Nick Irvin, Course Director on the BA Design Management level-6 top-up course stated, "MA Design Management students received the boardroom experience!"

The best pitch award went to the team comprising Sneha Verghese, Kalyagrit Thouchagrit, Abigail Maiden, and Juliet Kearsey, who gave an engaging presentation that gripped the panelists' interest.

Martin Price, Service Designer at BT, who also graduated from the MA Design Management at BCU says, "It was fantastic to work with the next generation of design researchers, helping them to apply user-centred design techniques to the brief we set. We enjoyed the pitches and we're glad to have been able to give the MA Design Management students industry experience."

Photo of best pitch award winners (from left to right) Senha Varghese, Kalyagrit Thouchagrit, Martin Price, Abigail Maiden, Juliet Kearsey.

The best idea award went to Tanisha Banik, Anahita Gholamhosseini, Cheuk Yan Yiu, and Nathen Birkett. They proposed a smart street light that can reduce the crime rate by 30 to 40 per cent and help people in need when they do not have any safety tool or technology and an intelligent safety tag for people in an emergency.

Jeanette Clement, Head of Service Design and User Researcher at BT, commented, "It was a pleasure to collaborate with BCU and see new talent emerging, hearing their ideas made me excited for the future of design initiatives like this are so important to expose students to the realities of the industry as early as possible. I do hope BT-Design can continue to work closely with BCU."

Best idea being presented by Tanisha Banik, Anahita Gholamhosseinie, Cheuk Yan Yiu, Nathen Birkett.

The collaboration was part of the design strategy and innovation module where students learn to apply design thinking and design strategy in making innovations more human-centred.

The multi-specialist and multicultural teams worked together for six weeks to deep dive into the user perception of safe and unsafe situations. They discussed how globally the perception of safety differs and the influence of gender, age, urban planning, architecture plays in making a city safe. Students conducted in-depth user research and user experience journeys to support their innovative ideas.

MA Design Management students, BCU staff and BT staff at BT Headquarters, Colmore Row, Birmingham.

The course director Dr Mersha Aftab confirmed, "Our MA Design Management course will equip students with the creative outlook to contribute to both the design and non-design companies. This course gives students the skill and knowledge to expand their employability skills across the sector and the globe. The course comfortably sits between the world of design and business."

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