Bill Burnett – Keynote Speaker

Executive Director of the Design Program at Stanford, Adjunct Professor & Mechanical Engineering

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Specialist Subjects

  • Designing Your Life
  • The Art of Innovation
  • The Future of Work: The Solution to Non-Stop Disruption is Non-Stop Design
  • The Human in the Room: The Post-Pandemic Imperative to Make Work More Meaningful
  • People Management and Retention
  • College is over—now what?


  • English


Bill Burnett is the Executive Director of the Design Program at Stanford. He directs the undergraduate and graduate program in design at Stanford, both interdepartmental programs between the Mechanical Engineering department and the Art department.

Bill Burnett got his BS and MS in Product Design at Stanford and has worked professionally on a wide variety of projects ranging from award-winning Apple PowerBooks to the original Hasbro Star Wars action figures.

He holds a number of mechanical and design patents, and design awards for a variety of products including the first “slate” computer. In addition to his duties at Stanford, he is a on the Board of VOZ (pronounced “VAWS – it means voice in Spanish) a social responsible high fashion startup and advises several Internet start-up companies.

Bill Burnett is the author, along with Dave Evans, of Designing Your Life and Designing Your New Work Life.

Popular Talks by Bill Burnett

Designing Your Life

The question “What do I want to be when I grow up?” is one that never truly goes away. Whether you are a college grad entering the workforce, a forty year-old shifting careers, or a sixty-eight year-old trying to define an encore career, the search for a fulfilling life never stops. In this riveting keynote that can be adapted to a hands-on workshop, award-winning product designer Bill Burnett teaches audiences how to look at career and life planning through the lens of design. Participants are given the tools to build their way forward and to develop various life scenarios just like a designer tests multiple prototypes. This approach fosters creativity and adaptability and allows audiences to accept that there is never just one right path.

The Art of Innovation

In today’s fast-paced markets, every organization needs to master the Art of Innovation. Stanford’s Design Group has been teaching and researching this topic for over 50 years and Bill Burnett, a graduate and the former Executive Director of this program, can help your team understand how to organize for innovation and teach you how to create a Culture of Creativity. His talks include some neuroscience, some theory, and some very practical ideas for how to shift your thinking to make innovation a regular part of your portfolio.

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