Hello, my name is Chioma Ezeanaka and I am currently working as a Technical Liaison Officer at CHAP. The Design Thinking MDes programme was a positively transformative experience for me, and in hindsight, I can confidently say that deciding to study Design Thinking at Cranfield University was the best decision I made in 2022.
CHAP is an abbreviation for Crop Health and Protection, which is one of the four agri-tech centers in the UK established by the government to accelerate the development and adoption of tech-based solutions that support global food sustainability. CHAP focuses on improving soil health and crop yield.
During the group project phase of the Design Thinking MDes, my team members and I researched about CHAP, its activities, and the projects they were involved in. I was fascinated by their business model, which is acting as a nexus between research institutions, government, and industry. After our final presentation, I told my husband about the group project and how successful it was, and he decided to check out CHAP. He saw a vacancy on their website which he knew matched my interests and competencies and sent me the link. Although I wasn’t actively seeking a job in Agri-tech at the time, I was excited about the prospect of working with CHAP, so I applied for the role.
The MDes program was instrumental in me getting this job because I believe that I would not have heard about or become interested in CHAP if not for the group project. Also, I think my recruitment process was easier because I had interacted with my interviewers during the group project phase, which allowed them to get to know me a little better before I applied for the role.
My role at CHAP is – Technical Liaison Officer. It involves supporting CHAP projects, promoting its activities to attract more partners and projects, managing its assets (which include a state-of-the-art glass house and growth rooms), and partnership management.
One of the significant lessons I learned from my MDes program is stakeholder management. Identifying who influences a system and the best way to manage them is a huge part of my daily role. My studies helped me acquire the knowledge, framework and skills I need to come up with better ideas to support the type of collaborative work we do.
In my new role, I look forward to having many opportunities to practice design thinking, grow as a person, and be part of truly transformative work in food sustainability, which I am passionate about. My future plans include sharing the lessons I’ve learned in design thinking, especially with entrepreneurs in my network, and supporting my food manufacturing company (Salad Ville based in Lagos, Nigeria) to grow significantly and sustainably. I also hope to keep interacting with people with similar passion in the food sustainability sector.