Today we’d like to introduce you to Meaghan Kennedy.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Meaghan. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I have a bit of an unconventional story. I originally came to Atlanta to go to the Emory School of Public Health. Later, I became an HIV researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where I worked on both domestic and international HIV studies. After working at CDC for several years, I began to more fully contemplate what I wanted from my work. I knew that I wanted to be more self-directed and started thinking about jobs that might allow me to work for myself.
Luckily, in addition to my geeky science side, I had also always been someone who made things. During this period of contemplation, I discovered industrial design and talked my way into the Georgia Tech Industrial Design graduate program. I had no portfolio, so it really was a “talk my way in” exercise. Almost immediately, I started doing freelance work, which grew and then evolved into Orange Sparkle Ball (www.orangesparkleball.com) in 2001.
Orange Sparkle Ball is a design consultancy that creates and frames new initiatives, products and services to internal and external stakeholders. We work with corporate clients, startups, and non-profits, helping them convey their stories, connect with their target audiences, and position themselves.
Through focus on brand development, product design, environmental design, service design, and organization design, we plan and execute a multi-faceted problem-solving approach for these new products and ideas. Several years ago, I also started work on a design apprenticeship program focused solely on design for social impact. This led to the founding of a non-profit, Spark Corps (www.sparkcorps.org), in the spring of 2015.
Spark Corps has been an incredibly rewarding full circle experience – one of our first clients was CDC. It has also been the catalyst for a redefinition of Orange Sparkle Ball, which has resulted in a shift toward entrepreneurship and impact work.
Has it been a smooth road?
The road has not always been smooth! As I think through the struggles, they seem to fall in two buckets. The first is keeping up with the change inherent in running a business.
Design has evolved considerably in the time I have been a designer. We went through a period several years ago when I realized that we had fallen into the trap of doing mostly commoditized design. We had to differentiate ourselves to be competitive. Luckily, that realization also coincided with my growing self-awareness, which gets me to the second area of struggles. I feel like I am constantly just shy of self-awareness.
Probably much later than it should have, I realized that values alignment was truly a competitive advantage. We have worked hard over the last few years to align our values with our work. That’s a challenging proposition because change is hard. People inherently don’t like it. It makes them uncomfortable. Change requires courage.
However, change is hard and necessary, both in the work of the business and in the culture of the business. As we have shifted our focus these last few years, we now work with people doing new things. This selects for people trying to manage change. We also have an amazing group of designers and consultants who not only tolerate change, they thrive in pushing themselves to create new things – both internally and for clients.
So, we have managed to wed the work of the business and the culture of the business.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
It is my hope that design as a profession matures into an understanding that what differentiates us as designers is our ability to solve problems. As technology gets more sophisticated, having any specific technical skill will become less important. The tools will change so quickly that focus on a specific technology-related skill will not be prudent.
Developing our ability to talk about design as a profession focused on creating new ideas, processes and things using a specific framework (Design Thinking) will be imperative. I believe a design degree will be the new MBA.
- Address: 659 Auburn Ave NE, Suite 229 Atlanta, GA 30312
- Website: https://www.orangesparkleball.com
- Phone: (678) 821 – 2520
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @orangesparkleball
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/orangesparkleball
- Twitter: @orangesparkle
- Other: www.sparkcorps.org
Jessica Ozment, Maria Camila Perez