Mauro Porcini, SVP and Chief Design Officer at PepsiCo, spoke at the inaugural Impact Talks Speaker Series event on June 3rd. Hosted by the Office of the Provost, the Impact Talks Speakers Series will engage speakers from a variety of disciplines about understanding the human impact of specific trends, disciplines or industries within communities and societies.
"The focus is on humans, humanity, or, following the Latin word 'humanitas,' human nature and kindness," said Provost and Executive Vice President Katia Passerini. "This series is consistent with the University's emphasis on the humanities and liberal arts—educating the heart, mind and spirit, across any profession—and it is the essence of our Catholic and value-based tradition. We will be looking for authors, leaders and change-makers who, like Mauro Porcini, will inspire us to continue to excel."
Porcini, since joining PepsiCo in 2012 as its first Chief Design Officer, infuses design thinking into PepsiCo's culture and is leading a new approach to innovation by design that impacts the company's product platforms and brands. Porcini has received a variety of awards and honors, including Knighthood (Cavaliere) and 47 patents. He is the host of a successful video podcast, a presenter and judge on a TV show, and his work on wearable technologies has been showcased at the Louvre in Paris and the Seoul Art Center. He sits on several Boards of Directors including the Design Management Institute, the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce and La Scuola d'Italia in New York.
Earlier this year, he released his first book L'età dell'eccellenza – Come innovazione e creatività possono costruire un mondo migliore, published in Italian by Il Saggiatore. The title translates in English to The Age of Excellence. Innovation and Creativity to Build a Better World.
"What drives you as a designer is to create something meaningful in the life of people, to create value in the life of people, for society, for the planet," Porcini said. With this view of design's importance underpinning his presentation, Porcini discussed how organizations can create value through designing powerful visceral, interactive and expressive relationships between the brand and the customer.
He wrapped up his presentation discussing how even when equipped with the same tools and processes, brands will experience different levels of success. The organizations that succeed, he said, are the ones which have "unicorn" people driving creation and progress in the organization. He described these "unicorns" as individuals having special entrepreneurial, social and enabling skills, but also emphasized the importance of unicorns simply being good humans who celebrate the originality and diversity of opinion that makes them each unique.
This idea resonated with audience members like Caitlin McLaughlin, a marketing and graphic design major. After the event, McLaughlin shared, "Listening to someone with so many accomplishments and accolades speak about the creativity and psychology of design was very interesting and worthwhile."
After his presentation, Porcini participated in a conversation with Provost Passerini in which they covered the role of education in developing talent, the pressures demanded during an age of excellence, the importance of optimism and what to look for in mentors. He also fielded questions from the audience about neurodiversity in the workplace, the racial and political division in the United States and the role of spirituality in human creativity and innovation.
"The event was an excellent testament to the rising prevalence of design in society," Christine Lhowe, M.F.A., Assistant Professor of Art & Design, said. "I'm used to attending design seminars with others in the design industry. Having the ability to attend with my fellow Seton Hall colleagues from across the University and in varied disciplines was monumental and speaks to the impact of design in all aspects of our lives. Mr. Porcini was inspiring, and I thank the Office of the Provost for the launch of this speaker series."
Porcini signed copies of his book for attendees at the event's reception. A livestream recording of the in-person event can be found here. To learn more about Mauro Porcini and the event series, visit here.