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Client Relationship Associate, Design for Food

In a nutshell

IDEO San Francisco is in search of a Client Relationship Associate for our Design for Food studio. This person is a Producer—someone who works closely with IDEO designers and teams to prioritize opportunities, design projects that drive impact for our clients, and help IDEO explore new design challenges, areas of focus, and capabilities. You will also be responsible for designing and expressing compelling presentations and proposals.  

The ideal person demonstrates a combination of business savvy, creativity, and relationship-building skills with both internal stakeholders and clients.

Why is this role important for IDEO’s work?

Client Relationship Associates make the biggest impact by being an ambassador and storyteller. You will help field incoming leads, qualify new potential clients, and collaborate with the broader studio community to ensure qualified opportunities are developed and supported. You will also be engaged in curating a portfolio of stories and assets that showcase how IDEO adds value in using human-centered design to positively impact the food system. 

Once here you will:

  • Collaborate and support the Business Development team and Directors in building a meaningful portfolio of work in the food and beverage industry. 
  • Follow up on all leads to identify the client’s needs and evaluate if the opportunity is a good fit with IDEO’s capabilities and focus. You will need to involve leadership and design specialists from the IDEO community to help determine strategic fit, frame opportunities, scope programs 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 outlining accountability for moving the process forward. You will be the key owner of the tools for tracking and reporting on new leads and relationships.
  • Quickly build cross-discipline relationships across IDEO’s studios in order to effectively help generate and capture written, verbal and visual input from IDEO leadership and design teams in a collaborative way. Business Development at IDEO requires a nimble connector that gets people around you excited about and engaged in the business development process. 
  • Be deeply immersed within a design culture made up of multiple disciplines, where scoping 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 and human-centered approach – are critical.

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. 

About Design For Food

IDEO has a dedicated team of multidisciplinary designers—from food scientists and packaging engineers to architects and organizational designers—who bring IDEO’s human-centered design approach to the world of food and beverage. We partner with change-makers across the food industry—from Fortune 500 brands and governments to hospitality leaders and small disruptors—to help drive positive change in our food system. Our work spans building purpose-led brands and organizations to designing new product pipelines, service offers and ventures, to food movements and system design. We are a team of deeply purpose-driven and optimistic people, determined to design a better food future for all. 

Check out some of our work and perspectives

Relevant experience

Must Haves

  • Background/familiarity in the food and beverage industry and/or design. 
  • 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. Strong presentation skills are a plus.
  • A minimum of 2-4 years of relevant experience in client relationship management and business development, preferably within a creative environment and/or design consultancy. Whether you are starting out your career or further along and looking for a career change, we'll consider your application. Please note this is currently scoped as an individual contributor role, supporting and partnering with a Director and Lead of Business Development. 
  • Comfort with and excitement for engaging with design teams and clients.
  • Strong project management skills with proven ability to prioritize tasks, keep momentum and develop timelines, involve and engage stakeholders, and maintain empathy for both internal and client teams.
  • The ability to create and deliver presentations, proposals, and other assets that clearly communicate an understanding of our clients, and IDEO’s values.
  • Strong critical thinking skills, including the passion for asking good questions, gathering insights, and interpreting information into meaningful and relevant internal and client communications.
  • Familiarity with the Microsoft Office Suite, GSuite, and a presentation application like Keynote or PowerPoint as it will be a part of your daily activities.

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
  • An inquisitive, open-minded nature with insatiable curiosity about IDEO and our clients

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 San Francisco. Moderate travel will be required.

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.

Answer in 300 words or less:What would your Design for Food dream project be? And why? (please upload your answer in the same file as your cover letter)

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.

Apply now
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