Perspectives on Post-COVID Business from a Quarantine Hotel: Jennifer Fuqua on the Challenge of Change

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Welcome to EPISODE THREE in a series of conversations with some of the makers and speakers of EPIC2021—a global, virtual conference and community promoting ethnography for impact in business, organizations and communities.

In this episode, Luc Aractingi talks with Jennifer Fuqua, Director of Experience Design, North Asia, at Ogilvy. Jennifer is one of five panelists presenting the The Future of Business in a Post-COVID Landscape.

We look forward to Fuqua's perspectives from Hong Kong, where she has been working with businesses and brands in Asia to help them grow and look into the future.


Luc: Hello and welcome to EPIC People, a series in which we'll be interviewing the makers and hosts of the upcoming conference, EPIC2021. This year our theme is Anticipation and we'll be interviewing today Jennifer Fuqua, who is an experienced designer at Oglivy. Jennifer thank you for coming.

Jennifer: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Luc: Well, we're very excited to have you in today. To get us started, I was wondering if you could describe your job to a stranger for us?

Jennifer: Sure. In general, I will say that my job is to help companies innovate. And what I mean by innovate is really to help the companies uncover insights, and then from there design new products or services that help the business grow and help them to look a little bit more forward and future proof. The other part of it is to help them evolve their way of working. This part is particularly important in the last a year and a half. Since the pandemic started, a lot of clients are asking us to help them evolve there. We are working to be more customer-centric, to become more creative in problem solving and become more experimentation mindset.

Luc: That's fantastic. Thank you. On the topic of innovation this year, you'll be part of our panel on the future of business with and after COVID. I was wondering if you could tell us more about your hopes for this panel discussion and more about your setting, because I did hear you're in a quarantine hotel at the moment, so that's very much part of the new normal, I guess, with COVID.

Jennifer: That's right. I'm currently sitting in a quarantine hotel. This is my day eight, in a hotel in Taiwan. I am not allowed to go out of the room or open my window. It's really an extreme experience of solitude. This is the new normal that we are experiencing, especially in Asia, everywhere we travel, we have to serve the time in quarantine. Part of my hope for this EPIC panel is that, hopefully I can join a panel out of my quarantine. That's the first thing, but, on a more serious note, I'm on a panel with a lot of very interesting people, including a futurist, including journalists, including ethnographers, anthropologists. So, I just really, I'm really grateful to be part of it.

Part of my fear is that, would I be able to keep up with all the minds? What my hope is really to bring a unique perspective since I am based in Hong Kong and have been working with businesses and brands in Asia to help them grow and look into the future. So I hope to bring that perspective to the table, to have a meaningful conversation with the rest of the panel.

Luc: Do you have any advice or anything you would recommend us to start thinking about before joining the panel?

Jennifer: Not really advice, but it would be an interesting reflection for everyone to really think about, the observations in your reality, what are the changes that is happening since the pandemic and, what are the, how have the businesses behaved differently? How have individuals in society behaved differently? And then secondly, what is here to stay, right? Some of the behavior will bounced back and some of the behavior will become part of our habits, and then part of our new normal. So what are those. I really believe that our reality in our view are, should be drastically different depending on where we are around the world. That will be very interesting to hear as well.

Luc: Well, that's fantastic. I was wondering if you had any advice or any experience you would like to share regarding your time or working during COVID?

Jennifer: Yeah, I think the major, interesting thing that I have seen as mentioned earlier, is our clients demand and in their urge to change because all the businesses also realize that...the old way of doing business is just not enough anymore. Right? So they really need to think of a way to pivot and become more agile. I think that awareness and that desire to change is really promising, right. And it's really interesting to see how, especially big companies that have a hundred years of legacy, right. There are a lot of cultural and historical behaviors that a big organization—it's a little bit harder to change, but with that desire and that drive, I do believe that we are getting to a better place.

Luc: Well, this is fantastic. Thank you so much. We really look forward to see you at the conference and thank you again for coming today.

Jennifer: Thank you so much.

Jennifer Lee Fuqua is an experienced design leader of global design teams. She is passionate in the crossroad of user-centered design and business strategy, to help client create experiences where logic meets magic. Jennifer has 15+ years of experience in the design & innovation field, with deep expertise in design strategy, program management, design research, and workshop facilitation. Prior to joining Ogilvy, Jennifer was heading the Fjord Hong Kong studio, where she is responsible for overall design quality and client delivery. Prior to Fjord, Jennifer worked at frog design, a global design and innovation consultancy, where she led cross-functional teams to solve complex business problems with design. Jennifer is a certified Change Management professional and have practiced human-centric design to help organizations build innovation capabilities and transform cultures.

cartoon/avatar of Luc AractingiLuc Aractingi holds an MA in social anthropology and art history from University of St Andrew's, and a BA in economics from Grand Lycée Franco-Libanais Beyrouth. He's worked on a range of insights projects and speaks Arabic, English, French and Italian.

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