How do you become chief design officer of one of the world’s biggest corporations? It’s a question that Mauro Porcini has been reflecting on a lot recently. It’s been a decade since he first joined PepsiCo – the food and drink juggernaut behind brands including Pepsi, Walkers and Gatorade – after starting his career as a product designer at Philips, running his own design agency, and becoming the first chief design officer at science-tech giant 3M. Today, he heads up a design team that is based all over the globe and has won over 1,800 design and innovation awards to date.
Porcini’s impressive career trajectory, as well as the human-centred design philosophy that he has used to help transform PepsiCo over the last ten years, is the subject of his new book, The Human Side of Innovation. Described as “part memoir, part innovation manual”, it traces his fascination with design thinking from a young age (although he didn’t have the specific vocabulary to describe it back then) and how he hopes to inspire other creatives and business leaders to value its importance.
Born in the 1970s in Gallarate, a small town in the north of Italy, Porcini was initially drawn to the worlds of art and literature. Needing to think seriously about his career prospects, however, he opted to study architecture at the prestigious Politecnico di Milano. That was, until he heard about a new course the university had recently launched on industrial design.