I completed CORe in 2017, and I'm currently earning my Master of Industrial Design at the Rhode Island School of Design. After graduation, I hope to continue my work supporting environmental change through thoughtful product design.

Biodesign and circular design are the two areas that excite me the most. I know that design can encourage restorative ecological outcomes. Frequently, sustainable work can end up living on a shelf as a boutique item. It is my aim to see this work through so that it may reach all levels of society.

How CORe Taught Me to Business Fluency

As a new designer with a background in the arts, CORe was a great way for me to finally engage in business. In design, we often work in groups during the design process. Every time business came up, I felt I wasn't informed enough to participate in the discussion. I signed up for CORe to have more agency in my work.

Credential of Readiness (CORe) - Master the fundamentals of business. Learn more.

So much of a designer's work has to do with collaboration. We work with researchers, engineers, other artists, community members, and, of course, we collaborate within the business sector. There have been times in the past when business conversations have come up, and I would kind of take a back seat to let others who seemed more knowledgeable on the subject take the lead. I realized that I wanted to know more about the subject so that I could engage and create the change that I wanted to see.

In fact, that's what we designers do with much of our field. We are trained in machining and carpentry so that we can engage with the masters in these fields who will help bring our designs into production. Business is no different. I needed to know how the system worked so that I could creatively and productively engage. Now, there's no point in the conversation where I need to step back. The work I accomplished with HBS Online gave me a seat at the table.

Megan Valanidas

Putting CORe into Practice

I am currently working on my master’s thesis in industrial design, and a lot of the work we do involves crafting a conceivable reality. There is a lot of speculating about the future in design. Imagine, in order to make anything new, you first have to imagine what the world might be like—or not be like. That means you really have to be diligent in your research, as well as tie your designs to plausible business opportunities.

In my own work, I am imagining what our world will look like when we finally make the shift away from traditional fossil fuel-based plastics toward biopolymers. I am using HBS Online thinking to develop business plans and subscription services that help fill out the story I'm crafting. It's kind of like forecasting, but with human behaviors and a lot of hunches. We also use data-collection techniques in testing for false-positives and negatives. And, of course, we try to think about real-world pricing dynamics. There's a lot of cross-over.

As I apply for jobs, it's really helpful to be able to demonstrate that I have the capability to consider economic constraints or opportunities. The same kinds of market research methods used in CORe are very applicable to the types of research we engage in during the design process. That is very reassuring in a necessarily messy creative process. As a result, it has given me more confidence in the creative process.

What HBS Online Means to Me

MeganI really appreciated the community of learners that HBS Online helped us build. It felt very easy to share information or ask for help in the course. It was also a nice boost when any of my comments got a positive reaction from peers. (Especially when I got to feel like I was helping another business student—as a designer!)

I worked with my friend and artist Dove Drury to create this portrait for HBS Online. I wanted to emphasize how important collaboration is to me and how generative creative work can become when multiple talented and inspired minds are involved. That's what HBS Online has meant for me.

Learn more about Megan Valanidas’s work at www.mvalanidas.com.

Megan Valanidas

About the Author

Megan Valanidas completed CORe in 2017 and is currently earning her Master of Industrial Design at the Rhode Island School of Design. After graduation, she hopes to continue her work supporting environmental change through thoughtful product design.