I am CDO, bitch!

Pepsi hires its first Chief Design Officer - Mauro Porcini

Pepsi hires its first Chief Design Officer – Mauro Porcini

Remember the business card that read – I’m CEO, bitch? They actually went on to make a movie on this CEO.

Times are changing.

June 2012 should be known as the month for this change. Latest we saw (not really) a business card that announced – I’m CDO, bitch!

A couple of weeks ago, Pepsi announced Mauro Porcini as its first ever CDO.


Make way for the latest addition to the list of CEOs, CFOs, COOs and more.

Chief Design Officer!

The position is NOT new or something recently introduced. Just that it has not been so common till now. We are witnessing a time when design is making its presence felt on a global scale. More companies are open to design thinking than ever before.

Designsalaries.org defines a chief design officer as:

A member of a company’s executive-level team who sets the overall strategy, vision and direction of the design capability; is responsible for multiple categories of products and disciplines of design; is responsible for organizational development of design including innovation and design sourcing strategies; and ensures that design objectives are matched to strategic corporate intent. This role also includes vendor and talent recruiting, development and leadership.

Is it a mere fad?

I guess not. It is the need of the hour for most.

Not too long ago, Marc Curtis, chief customer officer of design firm Fjord had declared “Get used to the term chief design officer, because they’ll soon be even more important to companies than chief marketing officers.”

We live in an era when most companies are competing neck to neck on technology. Thanks to tech-heavy giants and their affordable offerings, the overall differentiation between a good and better product is minimizing by the day. With a higher level of competition than ever before and almost similar quality of products, the need for design thinking is inevitable.

Pepsico brands

Pepsico brands

Porcini & Pepsi

Pepsi, world’s second biggest beverage company has chosen to invest about $500 to $600 million in advertising and marketing to grow its biggest brands.

“We’ve always valued design, but you’re seeing us taking it up a notch by bringing in a thought-leader,” announced Brad Jakeman, president of PepsiCo’s global beverage group.

Jakeman stated his key reason for deciding in favor of Porcini as his (Porcini’s) understanding on how to build a design culture in a large organization, in addition to him being a design visionary, of course.

Originally hailing from Italy, Mauro Porcini joined 3M at the age of 26 and went on to become its first chief design officer. Ten years later, Porcini will join Pepsi as its first chief design officer on July 02, 2012.

US design compensation comparison

US design compensation comparison

Good news for design enthusiasts?


If you have a quick look at the graphic above, you’d notice the annual salary comparisons for various design heads. With design making its presence felt worldover and more companies adapting it in their core operations, the future is better!

And like they say, design will save the world. It just might do that!

What do you think is the future of design? Do you feel the post of CDO is just a fad or an absolute need?

Looking forward to more discussion in the comments below.

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About the Author:

Himanshu Khanna is the founder of Pixelonomics and a senior designer at Sparklin. If you’d like to connect with him, follow him on Twitter: @SparklinGuy

  • http://twitter.com/mconventi Maurizio Conventi

    Nice post. Probably the “good enough” is not anymore valid. The design becomes even more important and I would add that the “User Centered Design” should be at the center of every product.

  • Martino Liu

    I am doing a reasearch on this subjetc: “I am a Designer, should I aim to become a CDO to save the world?” , please give any thoughts on this matter.

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