A brief introduction
Recognised as an industry leader in strategic and service design, a published neuroscientist, entrepreneur, author and executive mentor. With a career in service and strategic design and design leadership spanning both the public and private sector.
Co-founded and ran an award winning strategic design consulting firm, Huddle. Have been the figure head of the business since 2009, which has served hundreds of clients across many industries.
Established Huddle Academy in 2013 with a pure focus to build human-centred design capability and design mindset across many industry and government organisations.
Since 2015, have worked as advisor and coach to many influential people internationally, to help transform their leadership into a style that accommodates human-centricity and design-led innovation. Established the Deep Leadership program in 2016, Design Character program in 2021 and continue to deliver these today.
Wrote This Human, published in 2017, that was selected as part of the Stanford D.School’s reading list for 2018. The second book in the series, Design Character, launched in April 2023.
Summary of Achievements
Author: Design Character
Wrote a book that shows how to build a strong and resilient character for designers and design leaders focussed on re-imagining a regenerative world.
Strategic Planning for Regenerative Futures
Guided the Central Bank of Aruba to create their first Strategic Plan based on circular economy principles, focused on systemic regenerative outcomes for their island state.
Economic Recovery Planning
Supported Aruban government (PM and CIO) on economic transformation and recovery planning.
Author: This Human
Wrote “this human: how to be the person designing for other people.” a book about how to be the person designing for other people, responding to a gap in current tertiary design education.
Australian Space Agency
Helped establish the Australian Space Agency in 2018. Part of the small taskforce that lobbied the government and wrote the business case.
Founded Huddle Academy
Founded Huddle Academy in 2014, a school focussed on building meta-cognitive skills to lead and practice service and strategic design.
Co-founded award winning strategic design firm, Huddle in 2009. Grew business to have offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Amsterdam. Worked with 100s of clients across public and private sectors.
Established Experience Design Group at Telstra
Established the Experience Design Group within the CTO at Telstra 2005 to bring human-centred perspective to technology innovation.
Established HCD Prototyping at Ford Australia
Introduced real time interaction prototyping to Ford Australia in 2002, pioneering HCD in the Ford Product Development System in Australia.
Have led a career with one common thread, which is to advocate for design and life-centricity in any system or organisation. With a keen eye on enabling shared prosperity in a regenerative world, this focus underpinned my experience in many different industries from manufacturing to defence, health to education and strategic planning to emerging technologies.
Advisor and Coach to Leadership of Central Bank of Aruba
Nov 2018 to present
Facilitating the leadership development and strategic planning of the Central Bank of Aruba, which a specific focus on incorporating the UN SDGs and circular economics principles in the future they are seeking to create.
Visiting and Sessional Lecturing in Design, RMIT
August 2017 to present
Have been a regular visiting lecturer for the Executive MBA program in the School of Business and Law and most recently a sessional lecturer teaching Design Contexts in the Masters of Design Futures program within the School of Design.
Visiting and Sessional Lecturing in Design, Swinburne University of Technology
Taught and convened the Open Studio course within the Masters of Design in the School of Design and Architecture.
Author and creator of thishuman.com, this human community and This Human books.
Oct 2016 to present
Created a platform of resources for design practitioners and leaders to deepen their practice in design, with a focus on ‘how to be the person doing the designing’. This platform includes courses, coaching and design supervision. My latest book, Design Character, fills the gap currently in tertiary education that teaches the role of one’s character in informing what gets designed and how.
Co-founder and CEO, Huddle
Sep 2009 to July 2022
- Established purpose, vision, values, brand, value proposition and strategy of Huddle. Since Huddle’s inception in 2009 we focussed on having its culture and employee experience be its market differentiator. We believe any organisation should be a platform for human flourishing and impact.
- Led Huddle’s expansion into Sydney and Amsterdam.
- Founded Huddle Academy - a school focussed on building human centred design capability and mindsets in clients and practitioners.
- Launched Huddle Research - a Huddle initiative that investigated different forms of capital to bring holistic values to business and government. Collaborated with leading international researchers to inform the model.
- Built Huddle’s credibility to be one of the most respected (and longest standing) agencies for its delivery and knowledge of service and strategic design in Australia. Created and adapted Huddle’s design practice and grew it from a team to one to fifty, (and back down to three).
- Led cultural transformation programs within organisations wishing to become design-led.
Advisor to Government of Aruba
Oct 2018 to Feb 2021
Advised the Government of Aruba on their human-centred, design-led economic diversity policy which included the Chief Innovation Officer and Prime Minister. Role was to support the Chief Innovation Officer and Prime Minister in establishing the behaviours, mindsets and approaches required to work as a coherent public/private taskforce leveraging human centred and design-led ways of working. This plan was focussed on incorporating the UN SDGs as guiding and anchoring principles, while coaching the group to envision the long term outcome of doing this work. A difficult endeavour during the global pandemic.
Their economic recovery plan can be found here: https://www.repositioningoursails.com/MasterPlan_RepositioningOurSails.pdf
Creator of Deep Leadership
Oct 2016 to present
Wrote a 7-month intensive leadership curriculum that consists of 1:1 sessions, readings, action experiments and reflective practice for leaders looking to transition their leadership to better suit complex operating environments. This is based on the research that informed both books, and experience coaching senior executives locally and internationally on how to transition their leadership to be more holistic, long term and design-led.
General Manager, Chief Technology Office, Telstra
Sep 2006 to Sep 2009
- Established the Experience Design Group. The first multidisciplinary human-centred design team in Telstra focussed on design for the customer experience of emerging technology. Created a rapid prototyping capability that took an emerging technology concept to a human experience in 4 weeks.
- Established new ways of working and collaborating using co-design as a framework for engaging senior stakeholders around the organisation.
- Was selected as a Telstra Emerging Leader in 2005. and was part of the leadership program spearheaded by Sol Trujillo.
PhD (Human-Centred Design—Human Factors). Swinburne University of Technology 1999-2002
Completed my PhD at the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (now DSTG) in Port Melbourne. Focussed on improving work load conditions for fighter pilots. Specific focus on situational awareness in high stress environments and improving cognition of information under these conditions. Used human-centred design to create an ‘auditory display’ to augment cognitive processing without impacting performance.
Bachelor of Applied Science (Medical Biophysics) Swinburne University of Technology 1994-1998
Completed a four year degree majoring in Neurosciences. Conducted brain research while living in Japan during my final year and my work was published in peer reviewed journals, setting a strong foundation for my continuing studies in the PhD program.
List of Recent Publications
Senova, M. And Karpen, I. O. (2023) “Reconsidering (Service) Design in View of Systemic Challenges: Insights from a Quantum Theoretical Perspective”, ServDes 2023, July 11-14, Rio de Janeiro. [Accepted Conference Short Paper]
A short paper in collaboration with Professor Ingo Karpen of Karlstad University that proposed new principles to inform service design practice informed by a quantum theoretical perspective. Principles such as entanglement, intra-action, performativity and post-humanistic de-centred approaches are discussed.
Senova, M. (2022). Design Character: Know who you are as a designer, BIS Publishers.
As the second book in the ‘this human’ series, Design Character explores the values, ethics, and motivations of every designer. It helps the reader navigate their inner world and create an authentic practice that is deeply informed by who they are at their core in a world that needs more conscious, deliberate, ethical design.
Karpen, I. O., and Senova, M. (2021). Designing for Trust: Role and Benefits of Human-Centered Design in the Legal System. In IJCA (Vol. 12, p. 1).
An article exploring the role of trust in the justice system that present a framework that enables us to deliberately design it in to interactions and services.
Senova, M. (2020). Meta-skills are the key to human potential. Journal of Behavioural Economics and Social Systems, 2(1), 133-137.
This essay explores the need for deliberate and continued focus on cultivating the meta-cognitive skills required for humans to respond to complexity and volatility in uncertain and ambiguous times. It provides examples of what those meta-cognitive skills may be that are best suited to the current era.
Senova, M. (2017). This Human: how to be the person designing for other people. BIS publishers.
A text book on personal leadership within a human centred design practice. Selected as part of Stanford D.School’s 2018 curriculum.
Howard, Z., Senova, M., and Melles, G. (2015). Exploring the role of mindset in design thinking: Implications for capability development and practice. Journal of Design, Business & Society, 1(2), 183-202.
Co-authored paper with Drs Zaana Howard and Gavin Melles. An article underpinned by Dr Zaana Howard's PhD research. The purpose of this article is to investigate and articulate the role of mindset within design thinking capability and practice.
Advisory Board Experience
Global Access Partners—Vision for Australia Board
NSW (2016 - current)
Global Access Partners (GAP) is an independent non-profit institute for active policy that initiates strategic debate on the most pressing social, economic and structural issues facing Australia and the world today. It acts as a catalyst for policy implementation and new economic opportunities. Established in 1997, GAP looks beyond the “what” and “why” of policy discussion, focusing instead on the “how” and “who” of policy delivery.
Creative State Advisory Board
Creative Victoria (2016-2019)
The Creative State Advisory Board (CSAB) was established in April 2016 to take a leading role in the rollout of Creative State and ensure that the sector has a strong voice in the implementation of the actions. The board included members from across Victoria's creative industries and is chaired by the Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley. The board met quarterly and individual members were involved in a range of implementation activities outside the formal meetings.
My role in particular was to advise on the business context for design and how design can be used as a strategic capability to inform the strategies of organisation navigating volatile, uncertain, ambiguous and complex markets.
Innovation Expert Panel
Small Business, Innovation and Trade, Victoria (2016-2019)
The Andrews Labor Government appointed an Innovation Expert Panel to strengthen Victoria’s position as Australia’s innovation and tech hub. The advisory board analysed and provided advice to the Government about new models for innovation, emerging trends and issues, disruptive technologies and their potential to impact business growth across all industry sectors.
My specific role was to remind the board of the importance of considering the human in the tech and innovation strategy. That emerging technology is interesting and important, but only to the degree that it has a real impact on the lives of people.