design x convergence conference

In May 2018, I served as a team leader for a group of Parsons students who created and organized a strategic design conference. Design x Convergence: Strange Proximities & Unexpected Conversations took place at multiple venues across Parsons’ New York City campus, bringing together thinkers, makers, and artists from radically different backgrounds to discuss off the wall topics. We asked: How does an open and curious mindset, like that of an artist, help us adapt to the unknown?

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Jimmy Hagan Octopus Panel Moderator

in need of a direction

The annual Parsons Strategic Design and Management conference needed to change or risk cancellation. Previous versions relied too heavily on faculty support and struggled to find a compelling vision. In order to succeed, we needed a diverse and inspired team of graduate students committed to a unique conference purpose and identity.

A feast of talent and thought. And a killer value.
— Attendee
Jimmy Hagan Facilitation

We built something new together

I facilitated design thinking workshops to find a common purpose and conference identity. We decided we would bring diverse professionals together to discuss offbeat topics in technology and business. In the process, we would make an argument about what the role of the designer could be in the future; a facilitator of key conversations. We called it Design x Convergence. I worked to keep us motivated and on vision.

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Assembling Presitigous & Diverse professionals

My responsibility was to head programming for the conference; I had to design the panels and invite guest speakers. I looked to bring together people from diverse disciplines and backgrounds. We assembled architects, sound designers, artists, marine biologists, entrepreneurs, astrophysicists, ethnomusicologists, and community activists. Panelists came from companies and consultancies like IBM, Frog, Conde Nast, Gensler, and Arup. Our key note speakers were Kevin Bethune, formerly of BCG Digital Ventures and Valla Vakili of Citi Ventures. Speakers also hailed from universities like Harvard, Princeton and MIT.

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Engaging, thought provoking, inspiring
— Attendee

executing at a high level

In addition to curating the panels and speakers, I took a leadership role on our executive team, a group consisting of members from 5 countries. As a team, we oversaw marketing, visual design, funding, and event logistics. We worked closely with university staff and outside vendors to coordinate, even managing 30+ day of volunteers. Prominently, we teamed up with NYC x Design Week to promote.

Definitely an eye-opening experience
— Attendee

changing minds about the role of designers

The conference was attended by more than 300 guests from 5 continents. In a post event survey, more than 70% said they left with a better understanding of strategic design and saw new opportunities in unexpected places. And 80% believed strategic designers lead conversations that create new ideas.



Jimmy Hagan Panel Moderator

Designing like an Octopus

How can the distributed mind of the octopus teach us to be a better artist, entrepreneur, and designer? I served as moderator for the panel.


How Will the Future Sound?

Listening to what the future can sound like with ethnomusicologists, concert experts, and astrophysicists


The Human in the Room

Investigating the importance of emotional intelligence and empathy in shaping a more human focused tech revolution


Crossing Boundaries

Understanding the boundaries of disciplines and the value of technical capacities.


Schedule May 12, 2018


Design Sessions

Conversations about how planetary scale thinking can change how we understand climate change, explorations of ancient letter locking techniques, and mixing design thinking with VR. See more on Thinking Visually session with ImageThink.

Design x Convergence Schedule of day