What an inspiration! 91 and working at IDEO…

Today somebody sent me an amazing article, and it made me happy for two reasons.

a) It is about an amazing design company I would love to work for one day… IDEO.

b) It inspired me to keep searching for my dreams – because you never know what’s possible.


So basically there’s this lady in Silicon Valley who is 91 and has been working for IDEO for 2 years.  She lives in a retirement home nearby, and comes in every Thursday to help the team.  She was born in a time when women weren’t allowed to be engineers.  When she was 10 (during the great depression) she made toys out of odds and ends she could find around her home.  That’s when she decided she wanted to be an inventor.  Most of the people who work in tech and design firms are in their 30’s and have no idea what it’s like to be elderly.

As a 10-year-old I wanted to be an inventor,” Beskind told Jenna Bush Hager on TODAY Friday. “I’ve arrived. But it took me about 80 years.”

Beskind was 10 years old during the Great Depression, when ingenuity was a life requirement. “I wanted to make a hobby horse, and I made it out of old tires,” she said. “I learned a lot about gravity because I fell off so many times.”

You can see the full article and video here.


For those who don’t know, IDEO is a company we learedn a lot about in design school.  They focus on human-centred design, which means they take the end-user into account more than other companies might.  They really try to understand who they’re designing for, whether that’s a cardiac surgeon, a child using a toy, or a person using a shopping cart at the grocery store.  They are a consultancy based out of the US, which means they design for many different industries.  IDEO also helps designers and others to work with their communities when creating projects (and even has a deck of cards with great tools for understanding your client). They’re known for hiring all different types of people on their team (like psychologists, engineers, biologists, etc.) in order to get diverse and interesting perspectives.  They also tend to explore the real world contexts their products will end up in before sitting down to draw or make models. IDEO is one of my dream companies!


Even more exciting is a new branch of IDEO called IDEO.org, which uses the same design approach to tackle problems related to poverty! How amazing is that? They only started a few years ago, but their aim is to design products that can be used by marginalized people.  Just because the products must be inexpensive, doesn’t mean they should be ugly and fall apart. IDEO.org believes the people in developing world deserve all the same design considerations as consumers in North America, and they help NGOs and other organizations to realize that dream.  Perhaps when I’m older and wiser I could work there… wow, wouldn’t that be incredible?  Combining my background in design, with my passion for working in underserved communities… maybe one day!

The job hunt may difficult and tiring… it’s easy to feel defeated and unmotivated.  Sometimes finding the perfect job may take many months or years.  However, this video gave me a renewed sense that eventually it will all work out!


About Amanda

Hi, I’m Amanda! Originally from Ottawa, Canada, I am currently living with my partner (Steve) in Sucre, Bolivia for the next year. I work in the unique space between industrial design and international development – but what does that even mean? I’m passionate about working WITH marginalized communities in a way that utilizes design to improve the lives of different types of people around the world. I have worked, studied, traveled, and researched on every continent (except Antarctica), and most recently I lived in Ghana, Bangladesh and Nepal. I love exploring new cultures and learning more about myself along the way.
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1 Response to What an inspiration! 91 and working at IDEO…

  1. Val Roy says:

    Awesome Amanda! Stay true to your dreams!


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