Global Virtual Meetup November 2020

What does the future of innovative workspaces look like? How do current developments change the way we innovate, collaborate and live?

During our last global virtual Design at Business meetup  on November 12th, we discussed these and other questions with more than 40 like-minded innovation experts. They joinedus from different regions and countries across the globe like Europe, North America, Israel, India, Brazil, and others. 

John Wai Lam

Global Client Collaboration at Steelcase

John is Sinologist, Economist, Intercultural Communicator and Design Strategist.

He is currently based in Munich, Germany and member of the Global Client Collaboration Team at Steelcase supporting multinational accounts in pursuing their "Future of Work" vision. As a founding member of the State of Design association (www.stateofdesign.org) his intent is to support the community to showcase sustainable creativity and social innovation in the most responsible and respected manner.

Inspired by the talk of John Wai Lam,

a leading Design Strategist and highly committed member of the Design at Business community we discussed the importance and evolution of space and what role work spaces will play when it comes to innovation also considering the current shift to remote work. 

To continue the exchange of ideas and experiences we brought together further leading minds with a great diversity of backgrounds: A public policy expert, a global corporate IT Business Partner, co-founder for a digital art startup, and a global client collaboration Design Strategist. Thanks to Virginia Hamilton, Mirela Siani, Rob Anders and John Wai Lam and their profound expertise in Innovation and human-centered design we could fuel the panel discussion with their insightful and thought-provoking contributions.

We reflected on how external changes not only require organisations, business models and workspaces but also governments and policy makers to transform in order to stay relevant. And how can an innovative and human-centered approach support and facilitate this transformation?

John Wai Lam

He has attended the Design Management course at Parsons in New York and gained his masters from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University - School of Design where he researched the implications of Intercultural Design between Germany and China. With over 15 years of working experience and various global assignments as Business and Design Consultant, he is currently based in Munich, Germany and member of the Global Client Collaboration Team at Steelcase supporting multinational accounts in pursuing their "Future of Work" vision. As a founding member of the State of Design association (www.stateofdesign.org) his intent is to support the community to showcase sustainable creativity and social innovation in the most responsible and respected manner.

Mirela Siani


Mirela is graduated in Data Processing and Post Graduated in System Analysis both by Mackenzie University and Post Graduated in Business Management in FGV Campinas. Started her career as Supply Chain consultant, later accepted the challenge to be Production & Support Manager (IBM) and Project Manager (Accenture), both allocation in Vale – Rio de Janeiro. In 2008 joined Vale as Global Process Manager in Procurement area, and from 11-14 leaded Global Supply Chain SAP Implementation. After that was invited by IT to be the Global IT Innovation Manager for Corporate Areas (til Mar 2020) and since then , became IT Global Business Partner for Corporate and EHS Areas. Mirela is a Design Thinking and Digital Transformation enthusiastic, always bringing and stimulating Innovation on several business areas leading workshops around the world related to these themes. Mirela is also @IdeasMap founder, initiative to help companies to map Opportunities.

Rob Anders

Rob is a proven, commercial leader, visionary and communicator with vast experience in the interaction between people and technology, specifically the evolution and innovative application of display technology and screen based content across all aspects of peoples lives. Over the past 18 years, Rob has held executive leadership positions within multiple disruptive global tech companies where he has defined and executed go-to-market and growth strategies which have delivered multi-million dollar revenue streams and led to significant strategic acquisitions. Rob has built and managed multidisciplinary, cross-cultural teams, inspired global sales and marketing efforts both direct and through international strategic partnerships and is a popular industry keynote speaker. Prior to Niio, Rob was CEO of a leading European display manufacturer supplying screen and touch solutions to Tier 1 OEM’s such as Philips, Orange, VW and Siemens, and previously was founding member of Nomad IQ, an early location based services company acquired by Omnisky (Nasdaq:OMNY).

Virginia Hamilton


Virginia is an experienced public policy expert, with deep knowledge of both content and process skills. In her six years (2012-2018) at the U.S. Department of Labor, Virginia served as the West Coast Regional Administrator, with oversight for workforce programs in 8 states. She also worked directly for the Secretary of Labor's office on issues of employee engagement and innovation, where Secretary Tom Perez appointed her as the founding Chair of DOL’s first Innovation Council. She initially became passionate about innovation and Design Thinking when thousands of long term unemployed entered the public workforce system, during the Great Recession and the system had inadequate services for the population. She worked with IDEO to use Human Centered Design to help the unemployed have better customer experiences and better outcomes. As she became obsessed with using HCD to improve services, she catalyzed the Customer Centered Design Initiative, which trained over 2000 workforce development professionals in HCD, and motivated a number of states to invest in training their staff. Virginia is passionate about process literacy and design. She has worked with leadership in organizations to teach them how to collaborate, build partnerships, have important conversations, send the right messages, innovate and get things done. She has been focused on practicing and teaching process skills, and design thinking for 20 years. Virginia is an accomplished teacher and pubic speaker. Her consulting work includes facilitation, strategic planning, meeting and event design, civic engagement, public participation, design thinking, collaborative processes, and large scale system change. She currently works with the Partnership for Public Service, where she designed and teaches Gov21, a leadership program for federal government changemakers. She is also working with Coro Northern California to help develop a Workforce Leaders initiative. After 17 years with the Employment Development Department, she founded the non-profit California Workforce Association and ran it for 15 years. She has spent her career in non-profits and as a public servant with the mission of making government work better for vulnerable populations. Always searching for ways to involve more people, bring participatory methods into projects and organizations, encourage creativity and joy, Virginia is a change agent who is willing to tell the truth and evangelize for innovation to improve lives, particularly for people who rely on public services.

Building on those shared inspired insights and the evolving discussion, Prof. Falk Uebernickel introduced the SUGAR Network. Since its establishment in 2008, SUGAR is a growing global network that brings together students, universities, and companies for the future of innovation through a new learning experience. The students form inter-cultural, multidisciplinary teams and work together on exciting design challenges provided by corporate partners. In addition, the network brings together researchers from leading universities around the world, that are conducting research in Design Thinking and creativity.

Falk Uebernickel

Professor at the Hasso-Plattner-Institute (HPI) for Design Thinking and Innovation Research in Potsdam

He is working globally for companies in various industries like banking, insurance, automotive, sports and pharmaceutical. Falk is the spokesman of the SUGAR network - a global movement and initiative of over 20 universities and more than 100 companies to apply Design Thinking to real-world problems. As part of his activities, he is investing in startups and small companies like ITMP AG and mimi.io.

Sharing these diverse perspectives and elaborating the current challenges from different point of views made our meetup a truly global and comprehensive learning experience.