(Photo taken by Jojo Spiker, Pratt DM Class of '07)
This post directly follows my previous blog post about defining design management and the DM program at Pratt. I just saw that the program made it into BusinessWeek's short list as one of the leading design schools in the world. This recognition is very encouraging and well deserved. As a proud graduate of the program (Class of '07), Here's what I believe makes it so successful:
Location: New York City
You just can't top the experience that comes with learning about the business of design and the design of business right in the heart of New York city. Every street corner offers a live example of how both are linked together. Studying in New York is dynamic and exciting and there are so much added value that comes from experiencing and absorbing everything that the city has to offer.
Leadership: Dr. Mary McBride and the DM Faculty
Many of the faculty are actually graduates of the program themselves and each and every one of them is a successful professional in his or her field. This is so important because with all due respect to academics and theory, both design and business are about practicality, action and execution. But as the BusinessWeek article suggests it's also about leadership and I have yet to find a more dedicated and passionate group of people working together on educating, mentoring, coaching the next generation of design leaders (And - they do it on weekends and beyond!).
Learning Experience: The Real Thing
Unlike most academic settings in which the classroom is an isolated bubble detached from the 'real world', The Pratt DM program is as close to real life as it gets. Projects and assignments are always conducted in teams (and you don't always get to pick who your team members are) and individual work is always a piece of a larger puzzle. In addition, final assignments always require students to stand (!) and present in front of the entire class. This unique social dynamic can be very intense and sometimes intimidating but it also creates a sense of shared responsibility and personal accountability, critical factors for anyone who wants to change the world.
Leverage & Relevance: Practice What You Preach
Design management as a discipline and a business function has become an essential requirement for business. It's extremely relevant in today's chaotic economic climate, and also as long as we as a society strive to improve the world we live in and make it a better place there will be a need for designers and leaders who are familiar with the language of business and the language of design. What makes the DM program at Pratt so special is that it helps students to become fluent in both languages and bridge the chasm between the two. This is an essential skill for designers and a huge competitive advantage over regular MBA graduates who can only speak 'suit'. In addition, The DM program at Pratt is strongly pushing an agenda of sustainable design - every year teams tackle big global issues such as water, poverty, energy and climate change. In many ways it's like a lab for new ideas and new ways of solving the toughest problems out there.
Life Long Relationships
I spent two years as a student at Pratt which was, by far, the best learning experience I've ever had. One of the main reasons for that was the collection of extraordinary people who were in my class. I was fortunate to be a part of an exclusive group of professional creative minds that were all individually hand picked based on their talent, experience and passion for design. The friendships built in this program are for life and are priceless.
So...would I do it again? YES.
Would I recommend the program to a friend? Definitely (I already have)
In my book that constitutes a great brand.
So, congratulation's to Mary, the staff and all the past, present and future DM leaders - well done.