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Join like-minded innovators, change-makers and thought leaders at the d.confestival – a unique conference-meets-festival hybrid event centered around design thinking.

The event follows the 2012 and 2017 d.confestival events hosted in Potsdam. Supported by the Global Design Thinking Alliance (and also marking its 5th birthday), this event will be hosted by the Hasso Plattner d-school Afrika at the University of Cape Town in its newly built home that aims to be the first 6-Star Green-rated academic building in Africa.

Centred around the subject of Design Thinking, the ‘confestival’ term denotes a combination of the traditional academic conference and the interactive, creative elements of a festival. Sessions will include inspiring keynote presentations, vibrant panel discussions as well as interactive workshops of a participatory nature.

Our earth and its inhabitants are in a precarious position as we face multiple challenges, from climate change and health crises to war and displacement and gender-based violence. Our fast changing times are characterised by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.

At the same time humanity has at our disposal powerful tools of creativity, technology and communication to bring us together, meet our needs, and develop innovative and impactful solutions to our challenges. In all this lies the urgent imperative to further socio-economic justice and redress inequities, to act ethically and sustainably. In every sector – business, government, education and social development – we are being called to unleash the best of individuals’ and teams’ capacity and gather all forms of knowledge to adapt to the rapidly changing nature of life, work, learning and co-existence.

The mindset, methodology and tools of Design Thinking offer a framework for tackling solutions in a way that is human-centred, experimental, iterative, creative and collaborative. Whether in the for-profit or non-profit world, Design Thinking has shown us its value as a driver of innovation and improved outcomes. As the future emerges faster and with increasing complexity and uncertainty, it is important for us to reflect on the role of Design Thinking, how it has impacted the past but more importantly how it needs to evolve in order to impact the future.

The theme of this d.confestival ‘Design Thinking Matters Now’ is a provocation to reflect on the impact and relevance of design thinking to the priority challenges of our time. We play on ‘matter’ as both verb and noun: Why, when, how and for whom does Design Thinking matter? What are the matters on the agenda for the field of Design Thinking in 2022?

Three objectives around this theme are to:
Celebrate and demonstrate the impact and value of design thinking to solve tough problems through creative, innovative, human-centred solutions;

Interrogate and explore the application of design thinking practices and mindsets in diverse cultural and organisational contexts and across sectors, including business, education, social development and public policy and administration; and

Anticipate and map the future direction for design thinking, asking: what matters now? and what is next for design thinking education and practice to deliver value and drive impact in our world?

DISCLAIMER: Published version 15 September 2022. Programme details are subject to change.

Keynote Speakers

Prof. Dr. h.c. mult. Hasso Plattner

Prof. Hasso Plattner has been successfully linking business and science for decades. Plattner, majored in Communications Engineering at the University of Karlsruhe and graduated with an advanced degree in engineering. He began his professional career in 1968 at IBM. Four years later, together with four former colleagues, Plattner founded the enterprise software group SAP.

In addition to his business career, Plattner is also passionate about research and science. In 1994 Plattner received an honorary professorship in Business Informatics from the University of Saarbrücken. Since 2004 Hasso Plattner has been active in this capacity at the University of Potsdam and as a member of Board of the Stanford University School of Engineering.

Beyond his activities as professor, Plattner made plans to establish his own institute. In 1998, he announced the founding of the Hasso Plattner Institute for Software Systems Engineering (HPI).
In 2007 Plattner expanded the institute to include the “HPI School of Design Thinking”, modelled on the renowned d.school in Stanford. In Potsdam, higher semesters of all faculties, working in multidisciplinary teams, can learn how to develop innovative products and services for all areas of life with the help of Design Thinking. The facility has been growing, and in 2016 another branch opened in Cape Town (South Africa).

Hasso Plattner promotes research in the field of design thinking through a joint research program with the US elite Stanford University. In 2005 the opening of the “Hasso Plattner Institute of Design” was made possible with Plattner’s financial support. In 2016 Plattner was awarded the German Design Award for his commitment to design thinking.

Prof. Mamokgethi Phakeng

Mamokgethi (Kgethi) Phakeng is the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town. She holds a PhD in Mathematics Education from the University of the Witwatersrand and is a B1 NRF-rated scientist with over 80 research papers and five edited volumes published. She has won numerous awards for her research and community work. In 2020 she was included in Forbes’ inaugural list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Africa. In 2019 the University of Bristol conferred on her an Honorary Doctorate in Science in recognition of her leadership role in mathematics education in South Africa. Kgethi is founder of the Adopt-a-learner Foundation.

George Kembel

George Kembel is an entrepreneur, educator and investor. He co-founded and led the Stanford d.school, scaling it from an idea on a napkin to a world-renowned institution for innovation impacting hundreds of millions of lives, generating billions of dollars in economic value and ushering in a wider global design thinking movement. He now works with leaders and investors around the world to reshape the way we design our organizations, technologies and cultures to unlock diverse human capacities, increase adaptability and resilience, accelerate breakthroughs and foster greater creative flourishing at scale.

Agnes Kwek

Agnes is the Founder and CEO of MindTheSystem. MindTheSystem offers consultancy and training in complex problem-solving. Its methodology combines futures foresight, systems thinking, human-centred design and cognitive behavioural theory. Agnes spent 20 years of her career in the Singapore Administrative Service, in diverse portfolios from defence, labour policy, community organisation and social welfare, public service innovation, transport and creative industry. Her niche is in transforming organisations through design, and she has a decade of experience in public sector transformation and large-scale systems change.

Scott Weiss

Scott Weiss is the Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Catalest, a global design firm focused on helping the public sector solve systemic challenges related to innovation and modernization. Catalest was born out of his experience as a White House Presidential Innovation Fellow, where he helped Federal leaders and communities across Government strengthen their human-centered design, customer experience, and innovation capabilities and practices. Prior to joining the White House, he co-led a social innovation and design consultancy based in New York called Community by Design, that delivered human-centric concepts at the intersection of design thinking, civic innovation, and community organizing. Scott began his professional design journey at the award-winning agency IDEO, where he worked as an organizational and systems strategist for 6.5 years. This work focused on helping organizations of all shapes, sizes, and industries transform themselves into more design-led and innovative organizations. In his spare time, Scott guest lectures at NYU, Parsons, Duke University, and the University of Illinois on topics such as Design Thinking for Social Impact, Design Research, and Storytelling.

Jeanne Liedtka

Jeanne Liedtka is the UTC Professor of Business at the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business, where she has taught Design Thinking to thousands of people, both students and executives, and to hundreds of thousands in her popular online Design Thinking courses on the Coursera platform. Beginning her career as a strategy consultant for the Boston Consulting Group, Jeanne has also served as Chief Learning Officer at United Technologies, and as the Senior Associate Dean of Darden’s MBA Program. She has written seven books and many articles on the subject of strategy, innovation and design thinking, in both the private and the service sector. Her most recent book, Experiencing Design: The Innovator’s Journey was published in July, 2021.

Sam Yen

Sam Yen is JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Head of Innovation for Commercial Banking leading digital transformation and design-led innovation practices. Prior to JPMC, Sam was SAP’s first Chief Design Officer responsible for driving SAP’s Design and User Experience strategy and execution across the company. He was also Managing Director for SAP’s Silicon Valley presence. Sam holds a Ph.D. from Stanford’s Design Division and has taught courses at Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute for Design (the “d.school”), Graduate School of Business, and Executive Education as a Consulting Associate Professor on topics of creative cultures and scaling innovation in large organizations.

Paul Steenkamp

Paul Steenkamp is the Founder & Chief Executive at Jack Frost. Scott believes in the power of creative problem-solving and collaboration to solve the world’s greatest challenges, differently. In 2016, he founded Jack Frost, an effective problem-solving consultancy. They help a broad range of corporate, civic, and non-profit clients creating a regenerative and inclusive future. Paul served on the executive committee of Standard Bank’s Personal & Business Banking and headed up the award-winning FNB Innovators program.

He holds an Executive MBA from Henley Business School and Honours in Industrial Psychology from Rhodes University. He has completed learning programs at Saïd Business School, THNK School of Creative Leadership, SingularityU SA and the d-school. His book, Character Insights For A Regenerative Future – 5 Leadership Superpowers to Drive Growth, Innovation and The Future of Work , was published in July 2022.

Jeanett Modise

Jeanett Modise is currently the Group Human Capital Executive and Director on the board of JSE listed Sanlam Limited. She joined the organisation in 2014 as Executive Head: HR & Transformation for Santam and later moved to Sanlam Investments Group as CHRO. Jeanett previously held executive roles and served on Boards of various companies for more than twenty years, driving strategy and operations in HR, Procurement and Facilities Management within the technology, mining, and financial sectors. She has led teams with a focus on organisational culture, change, transformation and most recently pandemic management, in dynamic, customer-focused, growth businesses with attraction, retention, and development of top talent as one of the key business drivers.

As a mentor and coach, Jeanett helps leaders achieve personal and professional goals. A lifelong learner who started her career as a professional nurse and midwife before she transitioned to business. Jeanett holds a master’s in business leadership (MBL), B. Com business management (Unisa), Senior Executive Programmes (SEP) with Harvard and Advanced Management Programme (AMP) with Insead Business School. She is now completing her M.Phil, in Management Coaching with USB.

Angel Gwiza

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Angel Gwiza

UX Lead & Product Manager at YUX Design
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Ariane Morassi Sasso

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Ariane Morassi Sasso

Researcher at the Digital Health Center of the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam, Germany
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Bernard Roth

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Bernard Roth

Rodney H. Adams Professor of Engineering and Academic Director of the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University
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Caroline Grellier

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Caroline Grellier

Head of YUX Academy & Design Educator
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Christine Niewöhner

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Christine Niewöhner

STEM & Creativity Lead at Siemens Stiftung
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Colin Skelton

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Colin Skelton

Applied theatre and embodiment practitioner. Lead Facilitator at Move Your Thinking
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Danielly de Paula

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Danielly de Paula

Senior Researcher and Chair of Design Thinking and Innovation Research at the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam, Germany
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Elina Zheleva

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Elina Zheleva

Managing Partner and Director at launchlabs Sofia
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Elizabeth Akpan

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Elizabeth Akpan

UX Researcher at YUX Design
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Esona Makinana

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Esona Makinana

Social Entrepreneur and Human Centred Designer
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Felix Ofori Dartey

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Felix Ofori Dartey

Design Researcher and President of the Pan Afrikan Design Institute.
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GK VanPatter

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GK VanPatter

Author, CoFounder & Partner at Humantific
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Hoda Mostafa

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Hoda Mostafa

Professor of Practice and the Director at the Center for Learning and Teaching, American University in Cairo
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Jekaterina Rindt

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Jekaterina Rindt

Lecturer at Lancaster University
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Joern Bruecker

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Joern Bruecker

Global Product Group Manager at Nestle and Co-Founder & Global Chair at Design at Business
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Johannes Wedenig

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Johannes Wedenig

Senior Innovation Manager at UNICEF East and Southern Africa
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John Lam

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John Lam

Sinologist, Intercultural Communicator, Economist and Design Strategist.
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Katherine Train

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Katherine Train

Co-Founder, Empathic Intervision
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Lilian Sanada

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Lilian Sanada

Principal Client Engineering Manager at IBM Brazil
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Mana Taheri

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Mana Taheri

Design Thinking educator, researcher and illustrator
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Mugendi M’Rithaa

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Mugendi M’Rithaa

Transdisciplinary Industrial Designer, Educator, Researcher & Consultant
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Nailah Conrad

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Nailah Conrad

Lecturer and Programme Convenor
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Nina Smidt

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Nina Smidt

Managing Director and Spokesperson of the Board of Directors at Siemens Stiftung
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Nyariara Njoroge

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Nyariara Njoroge

Human Centered Design Consultant
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Patricia Villarroel

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Patricia Villarroel

Psychologist, Lecturer and Design Thinking Coach at Universidad Mayor, Chile
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Phumzile Mmope

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Phumzile Mmope

Leadership Coach and Consultant
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Radka Newton

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Radka Newton

Senior Teaching Fellow at Lancaster University
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Raj Burman

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Raj Burman

CEO of Techfugees
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Ralitsa Diana Debrah

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Ralitsa Diana Debrah

Design Educator and Researcher, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana
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Richard Perez

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Richard Perez

Founding Director of the Hasso Plattner d-school Afrika at the University of Cape Town
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Sasha Ofori

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Sasha Ofori

UX Researcher and trainer at YUX Academy
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Sebastian Kernbach

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Sebastian Kernbach

Professor for Creativity and Design at the University of St. Gallen University, Stanford University & the African Doctoral Academy
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Sherif Osman

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Sherif Osman

Knowledge Manager at the HPI School of Design Thinking in Potsdam
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Simon Blake

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Simon Blake

Founder and Managing Director if launchlabs Berlin
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Ssanyu Sematimba

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Ssanyu Sematimba

Entrepreneurial Leadership & Creative Arts Faculty member at the African Leadership Academy
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Tobias Wosowiecki

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Tobias Wosowiecki

Head of Products at launchlabs
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Uli Weinberg

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Uli Weinberg

Director at HPI School of Design Thinking and President of the GDTA
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Ulrich Meyer-Höllings

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Ulrich Meyer-Höllings

New Venture Design and Inclusive Innovation Advisor
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Ximena Arias

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Ximena Arias

Programme Manager at D-School Universidad Mayor in Chile
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This magnificent building is home to the Hasso Plattner d-school Afrika* at the University of Cape Town (UCT). Perfectly situated at UCT’s middle campus, this four-story building is more than just an architectural marvel with a 6 Green Star rating from the Green Building Council of South Africa, it’s the birthplace of bright ideas for a better future.