Bill Burnett

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

After years of drawing cars and airplanes under his Grandmother’s sewing machine, Bill Burnett went off to the University and discovered, much to his surprise, that there were people in the world who did this kind of thing everyday (without the sewing machine) and they were called designers. Thirty years, five companies, and a couple of thousand students later Bill is still drawing and building things, teaching others how to do the same, and quietly enjoying the fact that no one has discovered that he is having too much fun.

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. He 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.

Dave Evans

Lecturer, Product Design Program at Stanford, Management Consultant, and co-founder of Electronic Arts

From saving the seals to solving the energy crisis, from imagining the first computer mice to redefining software — Dave’s been on a mission, including helping others to find theirs. Starting at Stanford with dreams of following Jacques Cousteau as a marine biologist, Dave realized (a bit late) that he was lousy at it and shifted to mechanical engineering with an eye on the energy problem. After four years in alternative energy, it was clear that this idea’s time hadn’t come yet. So while en route to biomedical engineering, Dave accepted an invitation to work for Apple, where he led product marketing for  the mouse team and introduced laser printing to the masses. When Dave’s boss at Apple left to start Electronic Arts, Dave joined as the company’s first VP of Talent, dedicated to making “software worthy of the minds that use it.”

Having participated in forming the corporate cultures at Apple and EA, Dave decided his best work was in helping organizations build creative environments where people could do great work and love doing it. So he went out on his own; working with start-up teams, corporate executives, non-profit leaders, and countless young adults. They were all asking the same question. “What should I do with my life?” Helping people get traction on that question finally took Dave to Cal and Stanford and continues to be his life’s work.

Dave holds a BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford and a graduate diploma in Contemplative Spirituality from San Francisco Theological Seminary.

Susan Burnett

Susan Burnett

CO-Founder and CEO of Designing Your Life Consulting, Chair, Board of Directors, Rising International, Start-Up Advisor

Susan’s design life started in high school where she learned to design and make her own clothes when there wasn’t a big budget in the Burnett household for new stuff.  After graduating from Simmons College, she went on to her dream job teaching middle and high school kids, and her pursuit of design surfaced again.  Susan received a Master’s in Instructional Design from Teacher’s College, Columbia University.   Pursuing a new Odyssey, she made a career change into industry, becoming the first instructional designer ever hired by HP to design and deliver the next generation of Corporate Training programs.

Susan has dedicated the last 35 years of her corporate career to designing for individual and organizational transformation and growth. She held executive roles at Hewlett-Packard, Gap Inc. Deloitte and Yahoo!, where she designed and led large-scale business changes, cultural renewal, employee engagement, and leadership development. She also led the effort to build Deloitte University – a center for leadership and culture.

Susan co-founded DYL Consulting with the belief that empowering people with the life design process, tools and mindsets can lead to new and healthier ways to work and live in a chaotic, unpredictable, and ever-changing world.  She is a regular speaker, consultant and author on these subjects.

Kathy Davies

Kathy Davies

Designing Your Life Workshop Leader

Kathy Davies is the Managing Director of the Life Design Lab at Stanford University, where she teaches Product Design and life design courses, and shares life design trainings with educators globally.  She is also the co-founder of Designing Your Life Consulting and a commercial Master Trainer.

Kathy has 15 years of industry experience developing electromechanical and software products, and proudly holds five patents. She consults with Silicon Valley companies, teaches design thinking, conducts ethnographic research, and develops product strategies and concepts. Her prior experience as an engineer and product manager and leader of engineering teams gives her particular skill in understanding and connecting with technical audiences as they learn life design tools.

Kathy believes design thinking and life design can empower social change, especially around equity for women.

Andrea Ciafardini

Mindfulness & Meditation Instructor, DYL For Women and Founder, Holistic Connections

Andrea Ciafardini is the Mindfulness and Meditation Instructor for the DYL for Women experience.  As Founder of Holistic Connections, Inc., the company’s mission is to create transformative experiences for individuals and groups allowing for a deeper level of connection, awareness, and presence through unique integrative practices.  These include the Enneagram of the Narrative Tradition, Kundalini yoga, meditation and breathwork and Emotional Polarity Technique as ways to unwind outdated narratives in order to connect with and reveal one’s authentic voice.

Andrea’s fulfilling 15-year career is a testament to her dedication and passion for emotional and spiritual health.  Her journey has also led her to develop and facilitate workshops on forgiveness, emotional wellness and all aspects of meditation throughout the U.S and globally.  Whether in a virtual or in-person workshop, Andrea creates a compassionate, loving and safe space for participants to unwind, let go, and relax into a deeper relationship with one’s Self.

Catherine Dalipe

Catherine Dalipe

Business Relationship Manager, Designing Your Life Consulting & Fieldbrook Advising; Partner, Global Ed Professionals

Catherine has reinvented herself and pivoted on numerous occasions and in several countries starting in her early adult life and well into the current chapter of her odyssey.  Her life design journey started when she decided to leave the nest (Guam) to attend university in the US ‘mainland’, changing majors in college as a biology major (pre-dentistry!) then switching when she took the leap to study abroad in Spain.  Pivoting again, she landed her first job with the Environmental Protection Agency, and then decided to pursue her Master’s in International Policy Studies adding Japanese to her language tool kit.  With a desire to re-design again, she was drawn to working with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures, and landed in a rewarding 30-year career in international education management where she held senior leadership roles at EF Education, Study Group/Embassy English and Amerigo Education overseeing multi-site global operations leading divisional startups, organizational changes and leadership training and development initiatives.

As the Business Relationship Manager for Designing Your Life and Fieldbrook Advising (DYL Certified Facilitators), she is a passionate advocate for design thinking as a methodology to empower people to design a life and career with more joy, clarity and engagement.

Catherine is also a Partner at Global Ed Professionals, a non-profit consultancy group that provides internationalization solutions for educational institutions and organizations which seek to better serve and prepare their students, campuses, and communities.  Additionally, she collaborates with The Global Leadership League & Lead5050, both award-winning organizations in international education and study abroad that offer a vibrant platform for community, knowledge and dialogue for women to learn from each other and advance their careers.

Origin Story

The core ideas for the Designing Your Life class and the other classes that have resulted at Stanford are almost eight years in the making. It all started when Dave Evans asked Bill Burnett to lunch to pitch him an idea about a class to help his product design students “find jobs.” Dave hypothesized that these students, being in a very multidisciplinary and unique major, might have more trouble than most finding their first job. Dave describes the meeting this way, “I thought this was going to be a multipart discussion and that I’d have to have a couple of meetings to sell Bill on this idea. Within 15 minutes, I had the deal done!” Bill’s version is simpler, “Dave hit on need that I’d been working on for 15 years in office hours, one student at a time. Given Dave’s experience teaching a class on vocation at Berkley and his success as a business guy and an executive coach, when he suggested teaching a class together I jumped at the chance to work with him.”

Practicing what they preach, Dave and Bill decided to run a quick, low resolution prototype of the design thinking material they were considering using. Bill invited eight current and former advisees to a 2 hour, two night session over the summer. The Wednesday session went great; the Thursday session just wouldn’t stop. After the two hours of planned exercises, the students took over the discussion. Around eleven, when Bill and Dave insisted that they were done, one of the students turned to them and said, “No, we are not done yet. This is important stuff and you don’t understand. We don’t have any place in our lives where we can talk about this stuff!”

Zoom forward to today where Dave and Bill teach an open enrollment class at Stanford, one of the most popular electives on campus. They’ve refined the design exercises again and again to make them more efficient and actionable. The method has been the subject of two PhD theses and had demonstrated significant results in helping people design the life they want. The method is centered on the principles taught in the Product Design Program and the d.school at Stanford. Called “design thinking”, it is a process and a way of thinking about tough-to-solve problems. Most importantly, the class provides a “place to talk about this stuff.” We hope this website will become a place for that same conversation.