Changemakers who inspire me

We asked our amazing Future London Academy community to spotlight the women who inspired and mentored them as they started their incredible journeys, and to champion the rising stars in the design world.

We’re proud to showcase all of these incredible people who are making waves at all stages of their careers!

Birgit Kröger, Product Director at Ecco Leather Goods 

💛 Who inspired me

Li Edelkoort
Iconic! In all ways. She inspires me continuously.

Maja Göpel
Maja truly embodies the essence of a changemaker in my eyes! Despite not originating from the design realm, she serves as a remarkable source of inspiration. I highly recommend that any designer or design leader explore her work to gain insights into alternative approaches. Check out her books: Rethinking Our World and The Great Mindshift.

Lindsay Nicolai
Lindsay is Commercial Executive, International Brand Manager. Lindsay served as an invaluable mentor to me during my early days at ECCO. She expertly guided me through the intricacies of navigating such a large company, imparting crucial insights and details along the way. Additionally, she has consistently been a wonderful listener and a joy to spend time with, both then and now.

🔥 Women to watch

Hella Jongerius
I do not know her personally yet I am impressed by her work and achievements. Hella is a renowned Dutch designer known for her innovative and experimental approach to product design. She works across a range of materials and disciplines, including textiles, ceramics, furniture, and industrial design. Her work often explores the intersection of traditional craftsmanship and industrial production, and she is known for her use of colour, texture, and form.

Andressa Vieira
I had the pleasure of collaborating with Andressa, and I've always been inspired by her forward-thinking approach and her ability to consistently exceed expectations. Her genuine passion for her work is evident in everything she does, infusing each day with energy and inspiration. Additionally, she fearlessly stands her ground, demonstrating admirable strength and determination.

Diana Lütgehetmann, Creative Leader and Design Consultant

💛 Who inspired me

Jessica Walsh
One female who significantly inspired my journey is Jessica Walsh. As the founder of & Walsh, Jessica has not only showcased remarkable creativity but also demonstrated resilience in a male-dominated industry. Her innovative designs and commitment to pushing creative boundaries and supporting the female design community have been a guiding force in shaping my approach to design.

Jane Goodall
While I primarily focused on design in my response, I must share that my inspirations and mentors come from various places. Jane Goodall, renowned primatologist and conservationist, has been a continuous inspiration. Her story, perseverance, and impactful work in wildlife conservation resonate deeply with me.

Emma Grede
Her remarkable story and commitment to diversity, have captured my attention.

Mira Murati
The CTO of Open AI, whose profound knowledge and immense empathy make her an incredible role model for women in the field of technology and artificial intelligence.

🔥 Woman to watch

Veronica Fuerte
With her role as founder at Hey, she has become a trailblazer in the design industry. Veronica's innovative approaches and fresh perspectives make her a standout figure, representing the future of design brilliantly. I believe she'll continue to make waves and inspire the next generation with her impactful work in branding that demonstrates her commitment to pushing the boundaries of design.

Liza Enebeis, Creative Director and Partner at Studio Dumbar

💛 Who inspired me

My grandmother is probably the person that really stood out for and was an inspirational example. She was the first female professor in Biochemistry to teach in her university in the 1930’s and was a single mom. I think it took a lot of guts at that time to achieve this.

🔥 Woman to watch

Vera van de Seyp
Vera is Dutch designer - currently in MIT Media Lab as a research assistant. Vera brings a very personal and poetic approach to codes and systems. she is also a big supporter of colleagues in the similar field organising yearly events such as Iterations Creative Coding Symposium. I find her a huge inspiration! And looking forward to all the great work she makes and will make.

Fura Johannesdottir, Global Chief Creative Officer at Huge

💛 Who inspired me

Chloe Gottlieb
Chloe was not only my boss but also my mentor during my time at R/GA. One of the most valuable gifts Chloe gave me was the space to discover my own voice. She not only advocated for my advancement within the company but also helped guide me through difficult decision-making, both within my teams and in the work. She taught me a great deal about team leadership, the art of inspiring through work, and effectively guiding individuals along their career journeys. She believes in being tough on the work and kind to the people; something I learned from her and will always keep with me. I continue to follow Chloe as she makes new important career and life decisions, and she continues to serve as a strong source of inspiration and courage and is someone I truly admire.

🔥 Woman to watch

Natalie Comins
Natalie is Group Creative Director at Huge, and someone I believe is important to watch. Natalie has a deep-seated passion for people, community, and creativity, and this shines through in everything she does. Natalie holds both herself and those around her to high standards and strives to achieve excellence in both quality of work and individual growth. Extremely curious, she isn’t afraid of exploring new territories, experimenting, and learning through hands-on experience. Particularly notable is her keen interest in shaping the future, constantly envisioning what lies ahead, and executing on those ideas. Her early adoption of GenAI and continuous exploration of emerging technologies demonstrate her commitment to pushing the boundaries of innovation and her capability to outpace the machine.

Margaret Ochieng, Organisational Psychologist, Founder of The Inclusive Village

💛 Who inspired me

Dr Hayley Lewis
Dr Hayley is someone I admire not just for her consistency and prominence in the organisational psychology space, but also as someone who lives and breathes evidence-based practice, and whose values shine through the work she does as a coach and a business owner.  

🔥 Woman to watch

Hazel Osewe
Hazel is one of my mentees. An upcoming award-winning fashion designer with experience in luxury fashion. She is currently working on an ambitious project to enhance sleep and wellness through digital fashion at Arts University Bournemouth. Hazel hopes to bring together her experience in the African fashion market into the global digital fashion space.

Tamara Parraguez, Founder of Love&Fear

💛 Who inspired me

Patricia Diaz
My dear friend and ex-colleague from Accenture. When I first arrived at the company in 2018, she turned my career around, taught me the art of collaboration and how to be an agent for change by pushing your ideas forward, inspiring and working with everyone around you, no matter your area of expertise, age or role. She had been in the company for 20 years, but still had the spark of curiosity every time you talked to her. She gave a huge gift: the mindset of how to make things happen when you believe in something. Working side by side with Patricia gave me the perspective that the biggest impact we can make in our work life is always about people.

🔥 Woman to watch

Carolina Ureta
She is a Chilean designer. We attended the same design school in Chile and now she is based in London. I connected with her in London while on the Design Leaders Programme to collaborate with Love&Fear. I admire her work so much, she mixes visual languages with cultural aspects and lots of art theory. She and her team represented Chile in the first Design Biennale in London a few years ago, obtaining first place with a Tectonic Sound installation. I know great things are coming her way.

Megha Wadhawan, Design Lead at TPXimpact

💛 Who inspired me

Geke van Djik
A female who has mentored and inspired me: Geke van Djik, co-founder and Strategy Director of STBY in London and Amsterdam. STBY is specialised in design research for service innovation, and works for international clients in industry and public sector. Geke has a background in ethnographic research, user-centred design and services marketing. Since founding STBY in 2003, she has been one of the early pioneers in the field of Service Design. 

Geke regularly publishes and presents papers on Service Design and Design Research. She is the initiator and chair of the Service Design Network Netherlands, and an active member of the international Service Design Network. She is also a co-founder and active member of the REACH Network for Global Design Research.

🔥 Woman to watch

Loren Hansi Gordan
Loren is a Senior Service Designer at TPXimpact. Her multi-disciplinary practice encompasses design, writing, and art curating. Storytelling and a deep curiosity about the human experience are at the heart of all she does.

She is a design-thinker with training in ethnography, user research, and service design. She brings experience in strategic communications and stakeholder engagement and over a decade of writing and publishing about art and culture.

She’s previously held positions at leading institutions such as Tate Modern, honed her entrepreneurial mindset at a start-up SME, and founded an international residency programme for artists. She is passionate about the possibilities of creating meaningful change through inclusive, strategic design. 

Nina Rattenbury, Design Director at designlabb and Brand Marketing Lead for munevo GmbH👇

💛 Who inspired me

Michal Hidas
Michal is Fashion Designer and Founder of Hidas / Forbes 30 under 30. I worked with Michal at munevo GmbH (where she also led the People and Culture division within the organisation at the time). Through her own pursuits within her fashion business and guidance at munevo, Michal inspired me to be relentlessly authentic and courageous in pursuing a voice and belief in the world through the expression of design, whilst also succeeding in business (with purpose). Her designs were originally developed and inspired out of the need to tell the story of what was happening in Gaza at the time, where she teamed up with a local architect to create the prints. With an interior design background, I felt very connected to this and equally inspired by Michal’s vivacious pursuit within her ambitions as a female entrepreneur. 

🔥 Woman to watch

Leonor Babo
Head of Brand and Creative Director at Noocity. I met Leonor at the House of Beautiful Business where we were part of a group who ran a conference workshop in developing a ‘Fund from the Heart’ (supporting purpose driven business and social enterprises within the notoriously difficult venture capital raising series A stage). Through this, I got to know about her business Noocity, which is a wonderful initiative and business to watch out for - for the future of our cities. Her experience in Brand Strategy and how this is applied to the development of Noocity is inspiring and innovative. I find Leonor to be a true artist at heart who has the potential to create sustainable impact within her work and business. 

Patrice Speed, VP Executive Creative Director at OC Sports + Entertainment

💛 Who inspired me

Pamela Axtell
While I've been fortunate enough to work for many incredible women throughout my career, one of my first bosses left the largest impression. As a junior art director, I worked for a creative director named Pamela Axtell who led by inspiring example. She not only showed me the ropes of everything from large client meetings to multi-week photo shoots, she demonstrated how to balance being a creative leader with parenthood and other challenging aspects of life. Her empathy and creative prowess inspired a lot of my approach to managing teams. The trust she had in me as a budding creative helped jump-start my career and I still look to her work for inspiration even today.

🔥 Woman to watch

Jenny Beatty
Another woman who inspires me and pushes the boundaries of design work is Jenny Beatty. She's a fantastic creative leader with a sharp intuition for strong design and elevating brand work through experiences and interaction. Jenny not only has strategic and visually compelling work, but brings a lot of empathy and care to the teams that she leads. Whether it's through mentoring younger designers, or providing frameworks for better work environments, Jenny is thoughtful and thorough in her approach. I appreciate her strategic approach to elevating brands and the detail that she puts in everything from concepts to design systems. She is truly a design leader to watch.

Lizi Hamer, Global Executive Creative Director at Octagon, ECD No2ndPlace

💛 Who inspired me

Adah Parris
Adah is a highly sought-after keynote speaker, polymath, anti-disciplinary artist, tech futurist, and activist who is dedicated to inspiring individuals and organisations to embrace new ways of thinking and doing. She is the Chair of Mental Health First Aid England and the advisory group for the Centre for Cultural Value, and she has also been recognised as a TED Talks Global Emerging Innovator. Her work explores the anatomy of transformation and innovation, and she focuses on changing how we experience the world by asking the question, “What type of Ancestor do you want to be?”. Her cutting-edge philosophy, Cyborg Shamanism™, merges ancient wisdom, living systems, traditional ecological knowledge and practices, and digital technologies, and she provides individuals with the tools and practices to bridge the gap between where they are and where they want to be through her consulting and her Ancestors Retreats.

🔥 Woman to watch

Trishal Ghelani
Trishal is the CEO of Beti.Beta, an impact-driven education platform that empowers equitable futures within the APAC region. She thrives on bouncing between the “why” & “why not”. Having been a strategist that’s worked with Fortune 500 companies to non-profits, she serves to serve others. When the future feels fuzzy, she connects the dots. When systems feel unjust, she gets a fire in her belly. “Beti” means daughter in Hindi as an ode to our ancestors and “Beta” is our commitment to always iterate. We exist due to those before us and we create for those who come after us. Our ethos is that the future of innovation lies in the intersection of curiosity and complexity tinged with humour, reflection and empathy. To us, being radical is to be human. Intentional futures begin with the right question.

Thank you for inspiring all of us

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