CCAD Stories: Sapna Singh
A new design for the Business, Math & Entrepreneurship program
Sapna Singh was working in the industrial design world as a product designer when she noticed that designers often miss opportunities because they lack broader business skills that make them effective in a creative role within an organization. She decided to switch paths and pursue a career in academia, driven by a desire to help emerging designers and artists understand the importance of the business side of art and design.
Singh was teaching as an adjunct instructor at CCAD when the opportunity arose to lead the Department of Business, Math & Entrepreneurship. The department offers classes in entrepreneurship, marketing, finance, math, and business law. “It was a really great fit for me, one that brought together the design and business sides of my work,” Singh says.
Tell us about your career path and winding road to academia.
I’m originally from India and studied architecture in undergrad at the University of Bombay (Mumbai). I have four master’s degrees. My first master’s degree is in Industrial Design from the Indian Institute of Technology. After I earned that degree, I worked as an automotive product designer. I got married in 2002 and my husband lived in the United States, so I moved here and started working with The Ohio State University as a user experience designer. While working at OSU, I also earned an MBA and a master’s degree in Instructional Media and Technology. After working in the industry for few years, I completed my MFA in Design Research and Development in 2016 and began my career in academia.
What appeals to you about teaching at CCAD?
I’m very interested in the future of design education. CCAD is a progressive and forward-thinking school. CCAD has a great community and offers a lot of opportunities for professional growth. It is a rewarding experience to work with talented students and faculty peers. CCAD curriculum also emphasizes integrating real-world experience with conceptual knowledge by facilitating industry projects–and I believe that’s incredibly important for art and design education. I have the opportunity to teach courses in design, business and a combination of those two disciplines, which is a great fit for my multidisciplinary background.
What’s in store for the Department of Business, Math & Entrepreneurship?
The department offers business courses focused on entrepreneurship to help students develop the knowledge and skills needed to start their own creative practice, studio, or design firm. We are expanding our portfolio of courses to help students pursue innovation and leadership roles, whether they are part of a large organization or running their own business.
Why is it important to learn about business as part of an arts education?
Artists and designers need to know the business side of their creative work. It helps them be effective collaborators, understand the value of their work, and run entrepreneurial creative practices. There is also tremendous opportunities for designers and artists to take on innovation and leadership roles. Nonprofits, big businesses, and startups are all looking for creative professionals to help build their organizations into innovative ones. There’s a lot of design thinking that can be integrated in a non-design context. For instance, a designer can be brought in to design a whole new customer experience. Designers hired for this kind of role benefit from having a better understanding of business concepts and how organizations work.