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  • Maurits Montañez

  • First-Year Curriculum, Strategic Design and Management (BBA)

    Maurits Montañez, interim director of the BBA Strategic Design and Management program (and Parsons Paris alum), explores projects and spaces where technology, design, and culture meet. Applying purpose-driven creativity and his background in computer science, he guides his students to employ a grounded, analytic approach in their design and entrepreneurial work. 

    Maurits Montañez, Interim Director, BBA Strategic Design and Management

    At the start of his career, Montañez founded Manuvo, a company that helps cultural practitioners become changemakers who harness creativity to tackle the world’s biggest problems. Manuvo began developing apps and digital tools to promote cultural content and attract audiences, partnering with organizations like museums and publishers in Mexico. Later the company expanded its operations to Colombia, France, and the United Kingdom. In 2016, the MIT Technology Review included Montañez in its Innovators Under 35 list. Yet as his business continued to grow, Montañez felt he needed something more. His education had taught him how to build things. Now he was more interested in asking: What should we build? 

    Drawn to the idea of using design thinking as a development tool, Montañez decided that Parsons’ Global Executive MS (GEMS) Strategic Design and Management program—now called Strategic Design for Global Leadership (Exec MS)—would be the key to transforming his already successful career. The program brought him to Paris and forever changed his entrepreneurship. “For me, the most interesting and significant outcome of the program, beyond new knowledge and skills, was deeper confidence in my work, along with connections I made with people,” he explains. “These connections are crucial for developing new ideas and opening up business opportunities.”

    Montañez began teaching at Parsons Paris soon after completing the GEMS program. He taught courses in quantitative reasoning and futures thinking, encouraging students to engage with design thinking tools broadly and strategically. “When you develop a set of skills and a body of knowledge that allow you to articulate problems from a human-centered approach, you can create breakthrough ideas,” he says. These methods can be applied in a variety of industries and are essential to creatives in today’s workplace. “It’s about the creative sector’s discovery journey and how you can leverage all of these tools to solve some of the most interesting challenges.”

    Social awareness is another important element in Montañez’s classroom. He challenges students to introduce new approaches, models, and brands to tackle society’s most pressing problems. “I try to encourage students to not just come up with the next bag,” he says. “Discovery of purpose is incredibly relevant in today’s world, and I think our students understand that. When they learn to use design in a broader way, I think, that’s when they discover a whole new universe.” 

    Like all great educators, Montañez learns from his students. He prefers to set up prompts and then collaborate side by side with his students as they solve a variety of design problems. “For me, it’s important to consider what students think, to understand what they care about, to know the dreams and frustrations they have,” he says. “It’s essential to understand so that we can build better things for the future.”

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