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Business Development Associate

In a nutshell

IDEO San Francisco is in search of a Business Development Associate for our Design for Change studio who will field incoming leads, qualify new potential clients, and collaborate with the broader studio community to ensure qualified opportunities are developed and supported.

Why is this role important for IDEO’s work?

New Business Associates make the biggest impact by being an ambassador and storyteller.  You will be the first touch for new potential clients, ensuring a positive initial experience with IDEO. You will be engaged in curating a portfolio of stories and assets that showcase how IDEO adds value in relation to different markets, industries, and design challenges. You will also be responsible for designing and expressing compelling project proposals.

Once here you will

  • follow-up on all leads to identify the client’s needs and evaluate if the opportunity is a good fit for IDEO’s capabilities and focus. You will need to involve design specialists from the IDEO community to help frame opportunities and articulate next steps for a given client.
  • be responsible for improving and maintaining visibility and transparency in our pipeline and new business process. This involves ensuring regular updates on in-process and emerging leads and accountability for moving the process forward. You will be the key owner of the tools for tracking and reporting on new leads.
  • quickly build cross-discipline relationships in the Studio in order to effectively help generate and capture written, verbal and visual input from IDEO leadership and design teams in a collaborative way. New Business at IDEO requires a nimble connector that gets people around you excited about and engaged in the new business process.
  • be deeply immersed within a design culture made up of multiple disciplines, where the scoping of design projects and creating learning opportunities for project teams is paramount. Because of this, an openness and desire to understand all the various aspects of design – and specifically IDEO’s design thinking approach – are critical.

Relevant Experience

Must Haves

  • A strategic mindset to identify, evaluate and frame client opportunities that are aligned with IDEO’s capabilities and focus.
  • Exceptional writing and communication skills to effectively and efficiently bridge between IDEO and its clients.
  • A curiosity of about how organizations work and what might make them more innovative places overall
  • 2-4 years of relevant experience (e.g., business development, strategic/management consulting, public relations, marketing/communications, journalism)
  • Familiar with Microsoft Word, Excel, and a presentation application like PowerPoint or Keynote.
  • Flexibility and ability to travel occasionally for client meetings
  • The ability to multi-task, work efficiently and effectively in a dynamic, fast-paced environment

Nice to Haves

  • In-depth experience in conducting research (via data gathering and conversation) and synthesizing this data into meaningful and relevant internal and client communications
  • Facility and comfort with developing connections with people inside and outside of an organization
  • Strong presentation skills are a plus
  • An inquisitive, open-minded nature with an insatiable curiosity about IDEO
  • InDesign experience is a plus

Our work environment appeals to self-directed, flexible team players that have great interpersonal skills, learn quickly, embrace ambiguity, prototype new thinking and relish the opportunity to guide potential clients and project teams in translating challenges and questions into opportunities for innovation. This role requires design sensibilities, business acumen, and client empathy.  

The position will be based in IDEO’s San Francisco Studio. Moderate travel will be required.

What does IDEO offer you?

IDEO is a place unlike any other. It’s a place where you can solve diverse, complex challenges for our clients or the organization, alongside thoughtful, intelligent individuals who lead with curiosity, empathy, and optimism. Sure we work hard, but we also intentionally craft moments that allow our community to pause, create, and connect. We encourage our community to bring their whole selves to work, respect the need for work-life balance, and allow for autonomy in the design process and your career.

The Design for Change Studio, within IDEO, is focused on helping organizations be more purpose driven and building an organization's innovation capabilities.

Check out some Design for Change projects 

Application requirements and instructions

Please apply with a resume and cover letter (yes, we read cover letters).  And, please make sure to answer our Pop Quiz question, it helps us get to know you a bit better.


Equal Opportunity Employer

IDEO is an equal opportunity employer; applicants are considered for all roles without regard to race, color, religious creed, sex, national origin, citizenship status, age, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, marital, parental, veteran or military status, unfavorable military discharge, or any other status protected by applicable federal, state or local law.