Heidi Hyytiainen


Heidi Hyytiainen is a Design Consultant at Pentagon Design in Helsinki and a participant in our Executive MBA in Creative Leadership. Heidi began her Berlin School journey as the winner of our Open Scholarship in early 2019. A couple of modules in, we spoke to Heidi about trends and challenges in Finnish design and the role of design in social and environmental issues, and caught up about her time at the school so far.  



First of all, tell us about your role at Pentagon Design…

Pentagon Design is one of the leading Nordic strategic design agencies. My role, together with the team, is to help our clients to grow profitably through design, via discovering and creating new value. I help them with strategy, innovation and design. 


Your clients are reaching audiences in a remarkably fast-changing environment. What challenges do you see them coming up against?

Most of our clients are Finnish companies operating internationally. The business challenges they are facing include how to develop internationally attractive and unique brands, services and products, as well as marketing and selling them internationally. It is about finding out what are the right things to do and doing them right. The megatrends such as climate-change and urbanization can be seen both as a challenge and as an opportunity.


How can great design help to tackle these challenges and broaden their clients’ viewpoints?

Design drives the development of desirable services and products, strengthens brand and customer experience, as well as accelerating innovation and new value creation. It provides means to create bold and inspiring future concepts, which can be used as a tool for creating a shared understanding about the vision and making it real together. Design offers a user-centered, future-oriented and holistic approach for creating appealing, as well as positively surprising and emotionally rewarding solutions together with the users and stakehold.


Creative leadership is linked with social responsibility, whether that’s relating to climate-change, globalization or equality. What are the social questions facing design consultancies and how can leaders empower their teams to embrace these responsibilities?

It seems to me that this is about developing more meaningful, purposeful, and sustainable businesses and solutions together. Sustainability includes considering not only the environmental aspects, but economic, social and cultural aspects as well. We embrace expanding design from a human-centric approach to planet centric-orientation and seek to help our clients in solving this.

As designers, you have never had so much access to data than today. How does this liberate creative work? Can you give us an example(s) of how data has been crucial to great creative design?


Data helps us to widen our perspectives, make more informed decisions and recognize different kinds of biases. Together with our clients and with Pentagon Insight, we do both qualitative and quantitative research to understand the changes in user needs, motives and preferences, as well as test new concepts to get validated, future-proof concepts for clients to move forwards with. We call this insightful innovation process. In order to make good data-driven decisions, it is vital to understand how data has been collected, what is missing from the picture and how data can be used. I am looking forward to see how value can be derived by incorporating AI more in-depth in this process.


In your own career, how have you experienced creative problem-solving becoming more important in public design projects?

Along with the challenges and opportunities posed by urbanization, digitalization and climate change, cities and other public organizations are facing increasing need for creative problem-solving in order to deliver the best possible resident and visitor experiences. This requires developing services and environments that are sustainable, that respond to the needs of the residents and visitors, and are attractive for businesses to operate in. To enable this, public organizations are working to become more user-centric and effective. I have been working with, and experienced personally, the transformation of the City of Helsinki to a design-driven city (stories can be found here). Today, design is one of the key fields in the city's strategy program to become the Most Functional City in the World.


Finally, what is the most significant insight you have taken from your Executive MBA experience so far?

Having completed two modules in Berlin, I’ve met very inspiring lecturers and fellow students alike! The most significant insights I have had from the Executive MBA experience relate to holistic perspectives on creative leadership, strategies and value creation. I look forward to meeting new people in the program and continuing the inspirational discussions in class, after class and between modules! I think it’s our responsibility to use creativity to develop a more sustainable world and I hope we can make the most of creative leadership to do this together.



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