Q&A with Keller Center Alum Dalia Katan '15

The Keller Center recently caught up with alum Dalia Katan ’15 who is now a Designer and Innovation Consultant.  In her four years post-graduation Dalia has packed in some amazing career and life experiences.  This may be due to the fact that Dalia continues to ask questions rather than only looking for solutions. Her current favorite question to ruminate on is “What might life look like if it were designed around curiosity?” Which made us curious…

KC: Dalia, so good to connect with you.  What have you been up to since graduation?

DK: It’s always wonderful to connect back with my roots at the Keller Center. What have I been up to? Well, I left the consulting world five months ago to embark on a creative sabbatical, seeking to answer the question: what might life look like if it were designed around curiosity? What I thought would be a temporary hiatus from full-time work has become the beginning of a new life design -- one that challenges the 'normal' path that's been set for many of us and that has helped me reconnect with the most human side of me: the creator, contributor, and chaser of curiosities. Now entering the third chapter of my sabbatical, I'm turning the learnings from my play and exploration time into a financially sustainable alternative to the 9-5 or freelance world -- an alternative that I hope can be a model for others, too, on their own life design journeys.

KC: Probably not the path you thought you’d take while a student here. What advice would you give current students?

DK: Nurture curiosity, make time for play, and cherish creativity's best friend: boredom! 

In your creative endeavors, remember to always look around you: not only for inspiration, but also to find your community and your champions.

KC: How has the Keller Center played a role in your life after graduation?

DK: I had first heard of the Keller Center my sophomore year through Professor Strigl's Entrepreneurial Leadership class. By my senior year, Keller's entrepreneurship program became more than half my course-load, as well as inspiration to several of the events and conferences I organized. As thesis time came around, the Keller Center gave me a grant to do post-thesis intern work in Israel, where I worked at two Israeli-Palestinian peacebuilding organizations that were focused on bridging divides through integration in the high tech workplace. 

Fast forward a few years, and it's pretty amazing to reflect on the impact the Keller Center had in my life and how it continues to influence my path forward. For example, my coursework with Professor Lidow in Creativity, Innovation, and Design (which I loved so much that I’d end up taking the course twice) on design thinking helped me move into the innovation consulting practice at Deloitte, as well as to now embark on my creative sabbatical and start several of my own businesses.

Perhaps most impactful of all, however, was my Keller-sponsored internship experience, as it enabled the passion and knowledge that led me to be an intrapreneur during my time at Deloitte. Combining human-centered design, my thesis research, and my internship experience, a colleague and I (both junior staff at Deloitte) developed a program for companies all over the world to better integrate refugees and immigrants in the workplace. We were able to raise $400K from Deloitte to execute it after over a year of pitching our work to different leaders at our firm - including our Chairman of the Board! That summer experience showed me what an incredible impact meaningful workplace design can have on business revenue, societal wellbeing and cohesion and led me to continue using workplace integration as a tool to create meaningful impact on building bridges through the private sector. 

KC: Thank you for your time Dalia, stay in touch and keep asking questions! Read more @ DaliaKatan.com