Strategic Design - IED Alumni Interview : Óscar Aníbal Pozuelos

An international experience to promote creativity and innovation. Oscar is a talented strategic designer and an IED Madrid Alumnus.

INTRODUCE YOURSELF: the IED School you attended, the year and the Course you graduated in. 
I was born in Madrid but was raised between Spain and Guatemala for most of my life. I consider myself lucky since I was able to attend two IED schools, Madrid and Milan. I graduated from IED Madrid in 2008 where I studied Graphic Design and in 2011 from IED Milano where I did my master’s degree which has been one of the most life-changing experiences of my life: Design for Social Business.

YOU NOW: your job description, where you work, projects you are working on.
I am a strategic designer focused on innovation. My work centers on the incubation of ideas and the development of strategic solutions using design and creative processes. Most of the time I am involved in projects that promote social and economic development, by supporting organizations and entrepreneurs to create new products and services, develop value propositions, and implement their ideas in replicable and scalable business models. Currently, I work as a freelancer and also do consultancy jobs. As of today, I am helping different entrepreneurial projects to bring their business ideas to life. I'm also designing the whole creative online strategy of an important Impact Entrepreneurial ecosystem. Training processes are an important part of my work. I have taught at different universities in Latin America and have developed different programs aimed at promoting creativity, design, and innovation through entrepreneurship. I also give workshops, webinars, and lectures always around innovation, design, creativity, and impact.

CREATIVITY: IED means creativity, culture, projects and planning. Let us know how both these aspects led you to choose IED and how they helped or influenced your career.
I come from a scientific background but I had always been interested in the creative world. I chose IED because it was a vibrant community of passionate people. IED gave me access to that. I was able to develop my creativity and apply it in so many different topics that I would not be where I am if I had not gone through the IED (I started in Graphic Design and did the Master in Design for Social Business D4SB). The best mentors I have had are from the IED, they opened my mind to think differently (outside the box although it sounds cliché) and to always go a little further, to be curious and not settle for the first thing. Healthy competition between colleagues taught me to contribute to other processes, to accept criticism, and to work as a team. And above all, the subject of learning by doing. Getting down to business and getting things done. This is something that has become an essential part of my work and I constantly defend. My approach to work, teaching, and life are from this perspective. It's better to screw up doing something than to stay put. I always knew that design is a powerful tool and I have always been committed to generating a positive impact. Going through IED has allowed me that. I constantly explore ways in which design, innovation, and entrepreneurship can generate social and economic value while fostering intercultural dialogue through the implementation of strategic human-centered solutions. As I said before, being exposed to so many things, visions and ways of doing only enriches you and as a professional, everything I learned is still valid and I believe that it has made me the professional that I am today.

IED LOCATIONS: all our schools are found in some of the most creative and vibrant cities around the globe. Let us know why you choose the city you went to and what role it played in your student and future life.
I was studying Biology in Guatemala, and I chose Madrid because it was my home city. So I left my studies in Botanics and came back, and honestly, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. As a new creative Madrid's vibrancy made it one of the best times. My friends from that time have become friends for life. I got involved in projects. Honestly, the city played a big part in the enjoyment. Then came Milano with its sophistication and its appreciation for good design. Everything felt new. I learned to appreciate the process, to approach design (and life) more thoughtfully.

MEMORIES: let us know of a particular episode during your studies in IED, that you remember fondly and is a moving or funny experience.
The moment I was chosen for the scholarship in Milano, I was always looking for ways to apply design in a more thoughtful and impactful way, and having that opportunity was life-changing, the adventure of a new city, a new language, new friends... Then came the graduation, which served as a confirmation of my driven purpose. Receiving my master's diploma from Prof. Muhammad Yunus (Nobel Peace Price 2005) and presenting the thesis project to him knowing he had endorsed the whole program is something that I always carry with me and in difficult times makes me remember my purpose and how design has allowed me to have a positive impact with what I do.

CHALLENGES OF OUR TIMES: how have the challenging times we're living affected your professional life? 
The uncertainty. Everything stopped and I was forced to stop with it. It was a moment of self-defeat and doubt where everything I took for granted just went away. It was a challenging time where I had to reassess what I had done so far and look for ways to improve what I knew had to be improved. I still struggle from time to time but I know that I have to keep going and stay true to my purpose, and if I learn something along the way then it is more than welcome!

ADVICE: your recommendations to future graduates for a bright and creative future in your field.
To always stay curious and with eyes wide open. To make the most of every project and opportunity even if sometimes they suck. Everything teaches you something new and gives you new tools to approach your work and life. There is a world of possibilities out there and design is a truly exciting discipline; especially knowing all the fields of application that it has and how it can make a difference.

MORE ABOUT YOU: let us have links to web pages where students can discover more about you and your work.
You can contact me on Linkedin. And you can follow my Instagram: I also like photography a lot!

LAST BUT NOT LEAST: what was the activity that you found most valuable to your personal growth? Also, can you tell us about your thesis project?
I would say that the activity that I found most valuable for my personal growth is to take the time to research and explore. It was made me grow in so many ways because I'm always learning something new with each project. It is something I use every day and that I have made a part of my everyday life. Our thesis project tackled a fascinating subject. Healthcare for low-income families. We did it in Caldas, Colombia. our main goal was to improve access to primary healthcare by redesigning the existing business model of the social business Bienestar. After research on-site we developed a new service that created value in the entire community and improved access to healthcare for entire families and gave access to decent jobs to doctors that were excluded from the public system. The work took us to Colombia where we did on-site research and design was our tool to come up with new ideas. The business is still running though it has transformed itself to Bive con Bienestar (bive.co) and has grown to serve new communities. We presented the project at the 5th Iberoamerican Design Biennial of 2016 where it was awarded 2 recognitions: Best Design for Development given by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID); Best Service Design by Telefónica I+D. But beyond the recognition, the project has made an impact in an entire region and it has been a demonstration that design can be used for good, something that as a team we feel proud of.

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