Richard Perez

5 May

Founding Director of the UCT School of Design Thinking (


“Richard is currently the founding director of the UCT School of Design Thinking ( at the University of Cape Town. Funded by Hasso Plattner the is a unique offering in South Africa that leverages the network of both Potsdam, Germany and Stanford, United States. It is the only African School of Design Thinking that is officially affiliated with Stanford and Potsdam, drawing on the unique expertise, research and networks of these two institutions. Previous to this Richard spent 3 years at the City of Cape Town as the Director for World Design Capital 2014, where he had the unique experience of working to embed a culture of design-led innovation in a government administration. During this time Richard led a transversal team within the City to unlock collaboration, creative thinking and innovation towards developing effective models for delivering services that respond to the needs of users from local communities across the socio-economic spectrum. Before that he spent 10 years as a partner and director in an award-winning Cape Town-based New Productl Design agency developing consumer products, services, systems and user-centred research in emerging markets for diverse local and international clients. He is also an external examiner for UCT’s Engineering Design course and spent a number of years lecturing UCT Architecture students on the Theory of Structures. Richard’s education includes a Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Cape Town, a Masters in Innovation Design Engineering from the Royal College of Art and Imperial College of Science and Technology (London) and an Executive MBA (awarded with Distinction) from the UCT Graduate School of Business.”


Why do you want to be part of UCT Upstarts?
“It is critical for students to become familiar and experience the process of innovation, co-creation and human centred design, specifically in the context of social innovation. Whether they then leverage this skill to start their own business or take it into an existing organisation, this exposure is the foundation to developing creative confidence within the student to be think differently and really make an impact on the world.”

How would you ‘Re-educate Education’?
“This is a complex challenge not to be taken lightly. There is no single solution but to make an impact we should follow an iterative design led approach to understand the complexity and develop and prototype interventions that will have a lasting impact on the overall system.”