Design meets science: advice from Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya

The design strategist with a background in neuroscience shares her thoughts on cross-discipline work and innovation

Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya, design strategist and creator of The Leading Strand, visited Microsoft to share the story behind Beyond Curie, a design project that celebrates the “badass women” in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). During her talk with employees, Phingbodhipakkiya also discussed how she combines science and design to visually explain complex research to a wider audience.

Before Phingbodhipakkiya took the stage, employees Megan Carpenter and Conner Kutsunai caught up with her to talk about the importance of inclusion in cross-disciplinary work and how creativity helped her accomplish her goals.

Watch the backstage interview to learn more, and check out the abridged transcript below.

YouTube Video

Conner Kutsunai: Amanda, you’re about to speak a room full of Microsoft employees. What are you hoping we all take away?

Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya: For the past 1,000 years, we’ve made extraordinary advances due to science that have changed the way we work, we live, and we play. Microsoft has done its part to do the same, and I hope that whoever hears this talk remembers that there’s always room to innovate and to break new ground, no matter what you’re doing.

Conner Kutsunai: At Microsoft, we talk a lot about inclusion—coming as you are and really doing what you love. Can you talk about a time when inclusion impacted your work?

Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya: Inclusion is essential for cross-disciplinary work. It creates the most empathetic and strongest teams, and it allows for the most innovation.

Megan Carpenter: Another thing we talk about as a company is the idea of growth mindset: making mistakes, learning from those mistakes, and understanding you’re not always going to know the answer. Can you tell us about a time when you were wrong and what you learned from that moment?

Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya: I used to think that you needed a lot of money and a lot of time and a lot of experience to do something big and impactful. But when I was able to incubate The Leading Strand at TED in just 13 short weeks and feel the community respond and benefit from what we had created, I realized that’s completely not true. You can accomplish so much with so little, if you hustle and have creativity and a lot a grit.

Conner Kutsunai: Lastly, if you became a Microsoft employee tomorrow, what would your title be and what would you want to work on?

Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya: [Laughing] I’m very happy at Capital One, thank you. But if I were to come to Microsoft, I would love to be the chief experiment officer. I’d like to connect with teams across the organization and really help them find out how they can experiment with whatever they are doing, explore new opportunities, connect with other teams, and see how there might be more collaboration.

Megan Carpenter: That would be awesome.