Catalyst Bootcamp Facilitator

Anne Padley

Ann Padley is a Facilitator at our Catalyst Bootcamp later this month – helping young women to be skilled as change-makers.

Job title: Teaching Fellow in Design Thinking / Design Thinking Consultant

MBA in Service Innovation and Design; BA in Art History

How did you become interested in Design Thinking?

Since my first job out of University I was interested in creating great experiences for customers but I didn’t know what to call this interest or what type of career it might lead to. When I finally learned about design thinking and service design I knew it was just what I had been looking for. From there, I found a great community of people to learn from. The most inspiring thing about the field is its focus on people; not selling to people, but finding ways to understand what people really need and identifying how an organization can help meet those needs.

What was your first job?

My very first job was clearing tables at a local restaurant, but I was set on my professional career path as an event coordinator for a local start-up bank.

How did you get your first role?

I applied after seeing an ad in the newspaper (yes, it was a while ago). I didn’t get the job in the first round of hiring, but as the team grew they called me back in and I started just a few months later.

How did you progress in your career?

I knew my first job wasn’t my dream job but I took it and made a good impression. When the bank finally opened, I joined as the concierge and picked up communications and marketing jobs that needed to be done. Eventually, I was promoted to the director of communications. At some point, I knew it was time for a new challenge and joined a fast-paced marketing consultancy where I worked on a wide range of project across industries. Moving to Finland and getting my MBA was another big stepping stone – not only because of what I studied, but because of the people I met and learned from along the way. Eventually made my way here to the UK and the University of Bristol.

What does your current role involve?

I design, develop and deliver units related to Design Thinking at both Undergraduate and Post Graduate levels. In addition to the main units within the degree, the Centre also runs extracurricular activities. For example, last term I worked with Tough Mudder to develop a student challenge to design an obstacle that combined physical endurance and mental stamina. ​

How has your Design Thinking changed over the past few years?

Design Thinking, and especially the design of services, has grown and evolved immensely. When I first started, there weren’t many education programmes teaching design thinking so designers were scrappy – learning from each other and just testing things out. Over the years, it has been easier to find communities of people with the same interests and now students, in the case of the Centre’s Innovation programmes, can learn about design alongside other subject interests.

What’s the best part of your work?

I’m always learning; each project and every day brings new challenges.

What’s the hardest part of your job?

Whenever you are designing something new there is always a lot of uncertainty (that’s why they call it the fuzzy front end of innovation). No two projects are the same, or require exactly the same set of skills, so you are constantly doing something you’ve never done before. This might be the hardest part, but it’s also the best (see the question above).

What was the last development/training course/event you attended?

I am currently in CREATE, a professional development programme within the University that is connected with the Higher Education Academy (HEA). Through this, I’ve recently attended a variety of sessions on teaching, learning and diversity.

What did you bring back to your job?

A deeper understanding of theory and how learning happens which has been a huge asset when facilitating both in the classroom and with clients.

What is/are the most important skill(s) for your role and why?

Openness to change and new ideas because innovation is very unlikely to happen if nothing ever changes.

Where would you like to be in five years’ time?
If you would have asked me this question five years ago, I would never have guessed I would be here today. So in five years I hope I am still actively embracing opportunities as they come and making an impact in the lives of others.

What advice would you give to someone entering the profession?
Say yes to new opportunities, you never know where they will lead. This is a great way to get out of your comfort zone and encourage personal growth, even if it can be scary at times.

Contact info   @annpadley

To find out more and book your place at the Catalyst Bootcamp on 22nd- 24th August visit