Designers as Intrapreneurs, Jobs of the Future & Design Education in a post pandemic world

As an organization known for Innovation , the dawn of the new decade seen by AOD as the transformative twenties, geared AOD to re-calibrate to the changes the new world demands in a pioneering manner that is step ahead in nurturing the design talent of the future, strengthened by its unique connection with young game changers and disruptors.


In an interview with Linda Speldewinde, Founder & Chairperson of AOD she shares her thoughts on the future: changing landscape, design education, jobs of the future and opportunities for young talent. 


The role of designers

Q: In your view how do you see the role of a "design" evolve over the years?

Design has always been much more than aesthetics, but it is only more recently that it has begun to be widely accepted as such. I stepped into my entrepreneurial journey launching AOD because I saw the power design has to make an impact, make a change and even transform. The beauty of design was also that it applies across industries and sectors.

Designers are inherently creative with a wild imagination, and the more uncertain the future becomes the more we need talent that has the ability to look at matters with a different perspective and in ways that not everyone can. In industry too we now see designer’s moving to multiple roles from one that is defined to just visual look and feel and there are enough and more global examples where design alone has rocketed performance of product and service companies. Apple being the most commonly known.

Future skills and need for designers

Q. How do you see the future in the post pandemic world for a designer and what are the career opportunities for them?

The pandemic is a reset. While it has its negative effects we must see the opportunities that lie within. It has created a whole new world. The way people interact, the way businesses function, the way we create - all has taken a dramatic turn. While some shifts may be temporary, the majority of the shifts are here to stay.

Designers are in a unique position to lead this uncertain future. The skills they develop will enable them to seek new opportunities, own their paths and build their own careers. This is what the future will be. Driven by personal leadership whether it be in doing one’s own business or working in a company, the future will demand a skill set that designers will have through the exposure they receive.

The potential in the fashion industry is immense, especially now as they set on their recovery plans and as global brands also reshape their approach to delivering to the new consumer. Visual Communications and Motion Graphics opens many doors as any brand, company or organization is only as powerful as its ability to express itself and require the right talent to do this. New age interior designers who can cater to the new social behaviors will also be in high demand. Possibilities are endless with the right creativity and imagination for designers even more so, when coupled with tech know-how!


Q. What are the skills and characteristics that will be demanded from a designer in this new world?

I strongly believe that it will be designers as entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs that will lead the new world because the skills and characteristics that mold them is what sets them apart.
Based on my experience some of these key skills are the ability to think differently and dream big, the openness to constantly reinvent oneself and the other is the willingness to take risks and try new things. These are also skills that will be demanded from a future designer and one that is equipped with these characteristics will have the ability to lead organisations and movements in dynamic and creative ways.

The imagination of a designer is a unique ability which enables them to dream big and think differently, however what is important is also the ability to act on the big visions and move forward. Reinventing oneself becomes inevitable as the future we know keeps changing faster than we are capable of keeping up - As a change maker it is a must to constantly allow yourself to keep learning and re-learning and it becomes a lifelong practice. Taking calculated risks is another skill, as designers see possibilities others don’t, one must also be able to distinguish between what is feasible to act on and what is not.

Q. Why do you say that it will be entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs that will lead the future?

Entrepreneurs have always thrived in uncertainty and now with a global pandemic dramatically changing almost all economic and social aspects of life, I strongly believe that these skills will be even more in demand and a necessity for anyone to make sure they aren’t left behind in the new world. This may be for those who want to build their own businesses but even for those who will go on to work at other companies - for both entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs.

Our economies, our companies, our jobs, none of them are any longer stable or secure. It's not only a boss’s job anymore to deliver. It’s the entire organization’s job to innovate or be obsolete and this is why intrapreneurs will be in demand - those who can lead themselves, add value, take action and deliver results, no matter the role they play. Companies will also demand creative talent that will enable them to rethink, re-strategize and create new spaces for them to grow in the future

An Educator’s role and AOD

Q. What do you think is the role of Education in catering to the demands of the new world?

A major driver behind the world that will be created is Education. As Educators it is vital that we feed the young talents with the right knowledge and skills that will future proof them. This becomes more and more challenging as the years pass, because the rate of change happens much faster than the ability of most educational institutes to adapt.

Traditional models of education will become irrelevant as the knowledge and skills demanded of the future becomes far from what it has been years ago. The importance of soft skills such as creative problem solving and design thinking becomes more important in a future led by technology. It is the responsibility of educators to produce talent that has a good balance between design, innovation and technology and close the gap between academics and industry requirements.

Q. How has AOD responded to this rapidly changing dynamics in future career paths and bridging the gap?

AOD has been quick to adapt and ensure its young design talents remain future proof despite the uncertainties surrounding the new world. Much of AOD’s strength stems from the comprehensive ecosystem it has built, that runs on leveraging design to create impact at its core.

It has been further empowered by its new location at the Colombo Innovation Tower (CIT) - a design and innovation hub connecting talent with companies and startups to deliver impactful innovations with local and international advisors, mentors and professionals. AOD sits in a unique eco-system that opens many opportunities and exposes its students to real industry projects and requirements from day one. Thus, ensuring they are well grounded and employable when they graduate.

To tackle the complexities of the future job market, AOD strategically launched CIT Labs; a one of a kind multidisciplinary design and innovation studio connecting undergraduate talent with industry requirements within the diverse design disciplines offered at AOD - whether it be fashion design, fashion marketing, visual communications, motion graphics and animations or interior design! Through this students also get the opportunity to be mentored and groomed by local and international seasoned industry experts!

In addition to these new and innovative initiatives, AOD continues to offer a unique combination of academic exposure to students who gain the opportunity to obtain a internationally recognized design degree with a holistic outlook on both modern design combined with the local, regional and traditional design that keeps them rooted to the contribution design can make from ground level up.

Q. What is your advice for the young generation who are now at a decisive point in their life with deciding the path to pursue for their future?

Times have changed dramatically. It’s not just about doing a degree anymore but about securing a future proof career. Exploring and figuring out a future proof career path can no longer wait until you are done with your studies, like back in the day.

So, it's important that you reflect on what you love doing, what you are good at doing, what the future demands and what will give you economic return. Choose a path that enables you to explore these different avenues within your period of undergraduate studies itself and gives you the right exposure to build your personality to one that can thrive in the new world.


AOD is a flagship brand for Design and Sri Lanka. To find out more about BA (Hons) Fashion & Textile design, Fashion marketing, Graphics & Visual Communication Design, Motion graphics and Animation and Interior design programs reach AOD Colombo on 0775727772, email or walk in between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday - Colombo Innovation Tower, No 477, R A De Mel mawatha, Colombo 4