IDEO, the global design and innovation company, today announced that has hired Derek Robson (currently the President of the full service ad agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners) as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO). He will take on his new position at IDEO in January 5, 2023.
Robson takes the CEO position, which was assumed in 2019 by Sandy Speicher, who left IDEO in May 2022.
“What attracted me to IDEO was not just the breadth of the firm’s creativity but also the size of its ambition,” said Derek Robson. “This is not just about doing great work with audacious and future-facing clients, or design applied to incremental improvements. IDEO has ambitions to make a positive change, collectively with others and at scale, and who doesn’t want to change the world?”
Interim co-CEOs at IDEO, Paul Bennett and Tim Brown, will serve as co-Chairs. Bennett and Brown will also continue their current roles as IDEO’s Chief Creative Officer and Vice Chair of kyu collective, respectively.
From the creative ad agency side to the broader design thinking scope
Robson joined Goodby Silverstein & Partners in 2006 as Managing Partner and became of the full-service advertising agency President since 2017. He has led the company through massive growth, challenging financial times, and a turnaround that saw the firm named Comeback Agency of the Year by Ad Age in 2018. Last year, Fast Company named them Most Innovative Agency and the 36th Most Innovative Company in the World.
At Goodby Silverstein & partners he was responsible for GS&P’s strategic and production functions, commercial and financial operations.
During Robson’s tenure, he worked with key clients, brought to market successful new service offerings, and led many of the agency’s new business wins. Under his direction and stewardship, the agency has become an industry front-runner in narrowing the gender gap in leadership and won multiple awards from Adweek, Ad Age, Cannes, and Fast Company. To address the diversity talent gap and acting on the belief that all creatives have an equal chance at becoming professional advertising creatives, Derek Robson helped to found an in-house, tuition-free advertising training school.
Robson started his career at Ogilvy & Mather Direct in London. He moved to Ogilvy & Mather and then to Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH), where he spent the next 13 years of his career in a range of roles including as its Managing Director. Under his leadership, BBH twice won Campaign magazine’s Agency of the Year award. In 2004, Derek was voted one of the 40 most influential men under 40 by Esquire magazine in the UK.
Derek Robson is married with two daughters. When he’s not working, he spends his time supporting Derby County Football Club, watching the English cricket team from afar, and running long distances very, very slowly.
His rare combination of leadership qualities and experience, made the difference
“We were humbled by the world-class caliber of candidates who we had the chance to meet during our search for our next CEO and thank them for the insight they brought to us,” said Tim Brown. “In Derek we saw a rare combination of leadership qualities and experience that will propel IDEO into its next phase. I am delighted that we will have the opportunity to work together.”
“From the moment we met Derek, we knew he was the kind of leader who understands how to build a culture where creativity can thrive at its highest amplitude. That ability, coupled with humility and the resolve to listen to others, are what great leaders must demonstrate today,” added Paul Bennett. “I could not be more excited to have him join us at this pivotal moment.”
With its roots in Palo Alto (Calif USA) dating back to 1978, the company was established as IDEO in 1991 as a result of the merger of David Kelley Design (established by David Kelley), Moggridge Associates and SanFrancisco’s ID Two (hedaquartered in London and founded both by Bill Moggridge). Since its birth IDEO is an early leader in design thinking.
The miscelaneus design thinking company is linked since 2016 with the Japanese Kyu Collective.
Currently IDEO employs over 600 designers, builders, entrepreneurs, engineers, data and behavioral scientists, teachers, researchers, and other specialists around the world working from studios located in North America (Cambridge, Chicago, Palo Alto, San Francisco), Europe (London, Munich) and Asia (Shanghai, Tokyo), as well as from project spaces around the world.
IDEO’s managing leaders today are distributed globally across it’s studios, so they no longer have a headquarters in the traditional sense.
IDEO has worked on projects in the consumer food and beverage, retail, IT, medical, education, furniture, office, and automotive industries. Some examples include Apple’s first mouse, the Palm V PDA, and the Steelcase Leap chair. His clients include Air New Zealand, Coca-Cola, ConAgra Foods, Eli Lilly, Ford, Medtronic, Mexichem, Sealy, ShinHo, Steelcase, among many others.
On October 17th, 2017, IDEO acquired Datascope , a Chicago-based data science company. This acquisition was driven by the advances in data science and machine learning. A kind of advances which allows IDEO to broaden the focus on human-centric applications, including the facilitation of the design process, the acquiring company explained.