Four Dodd Alumni Embrace Creative Teamwork and Design Thinking at IBM

In 2013, IBM wanted to initiate a sustainable culture of design around a set of principles and practices called IBM Design Thinking. Its goal was to improve how the company creates user-oriented solutions in its products. Since then, IBM has hired over 750 additional designers, four of whom are recent grads from the University of Georgia’s Lamar Dodd School of Art. These four UGA hires currently work with IBM Design, after receiving their BFA degrees from the School of Art with a major in graphic design. Alumni Blake Helman, Hayley Hughes, and Andrea Gottardy now work in the Austin, Texas office of IBM, while Jake Green, who recently finished his IBM Design Bootcamp training in Austin, just began work in IBM's Design Studio in Boston, Massachusetts. With offices across the globe designed to facilitate collaboration, but particularly at its Design headquarters in Austin, Texas, IBM is attempting to foster new ways of thinking about design that emphasizes teamwork and creativity.

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Neon sign designed by Blake Helman for the IBM Design Studio in Austin, Texas

Blake Helman (´13) joined IBM as a visual designer immediately after graduation. Notably, Helman has worked on an interdisciplinary team with IBM designers and security tech analysts to create a platform called IBM X-Force Exchange, an open system that allows security analysts to share the latest information about the threats on their radars and how they have tackled these problems. Fast Company highlighted the achievement of this platform in an article, which quotes Helman as saying: “We wanted to make tools for [security analysts] that were equally as easy for them to use.”


Hayley Hughes

Hayley Hughes (´08) is a Design Language Lead at IBM in Austin where her team is dedicated to unifying the design efforts across all of IBM’s products. Before joining IBM, Hughes worked in various positions in New York City including at the Rubin Museum of Art then went on to receive her Masters of Graphic Design from North Carolina State University in 2013. In addition to her work with IBM, Hughes volunteers through AIGA, the professional organization for design, on their “Giving Voices” mentorship program to help high schoolers with disabilities create art and design around a cause they are passionate about. Recently, Hughes gave a webinar about how IBM designs for a global market.

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Jake Green. Photo: Phoebe Cai

Jake Green (´15) graduated in December 2015 and recently completed IBM’s 12-week Design Bootcamp in Austin. Design Bootcamp brings together Design Researchers, UX Designers, Visual Designers, and Front End Developers from all over the country and world to learn IBM’s approach both to design and to working well in teams. While in Bootcamp, new recruits learn IBM’s distinctive approach to design thinking while completing shorter-term projects for real clients. Green just started a full-time position in the Cambridge, Massachusetts IBM office where he will help create data visualizations and user interface design for Watson Health.


IBM_Design_Thinking_spread1.pngSpread from IBM's "Design Thinking Field Guide".

Andrea Gottardy (´14) was recruited by IBM this past year, and she relocated to Austin this summer to begin training, leaving her former design position at a small design firm in New York City. Gottardy’s training in Austin has prepared her for her new role as a Visual Designer for Watson Internet of Things. The Internet of Things is defined as a network of everyday objects that are able to send and receive data; IBM’s Watson technology is able to play into this because it uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data. Gottardy is currently working on a project involving migrating multi-dimensional data and improving user experience of that process.


Andrea Gottardy (third from right) with colleagues from her IBM Bootcamp training session

Congratulations to all four Graphic Design alumni for their inspiring work with IBM Design!

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