Meet Giles Phillips!

Hello everyone and welcome to another great year! I just got back on campus so I thought I’d dive in with another brief interview from someone amazing I was introduced to this summer. This will start a brief series of pieces about MIT alumni that are meant to show how alumni and community members can get involved with the amazing work the PSC and IDEAS/GC are doing. So without further ado, here’s a brief excerpt of an interview with Giles Phillips.

Here’s a bit about Giles:

Giles is an MIT alum (‘07) and accomplished Product Designer: he is currently Director of User Experience at Brightcove, where he is responsible for global product design, information architecture, and user research for Brightcove’s market-leading Online Video and Content Application Platforms for publishing content, including both publishing tools and end-user experiences.  Prior to joining Brightcove, he was Director of Innovation at Giles is an alumnus of the Design and Computation group in the Department of Architecture, and performed his research in the MIT Media lab, where he investigated exploratory and educational systems to support participative design.
What’s specifically is your role in MIT IDEAS/Global Challenge/PSC? Has this always been your role, or has it changed over the years?

I first got involved with IDEAS while I was a graduate student at MIT.  I was volunteering at the PSC – helping out with a few of their websites – and was immediately intrigued by the diverse set of explorations, as well as the hands-on approach afforded by the IDEAS Competition format.  So I got involved in supporting the competition.  A few years later, I found another opportunity to get involved in IDEAS: as part of an ongoing Innovation initiative that I spearheaded during my time at Monster Worldwide.  Working closely with the IDEAS staff, I created and championed a  “Monster Innovation” challenge, which provided to student teams additional prize funds for any projects that successfully addressed the critical problems facing individuals in any economy who are seeking gainful, safe and secure employment, or even trying to stay competitive in their careers.  Folding the IDEAS competition format into our corporate innovation program proved to be an extremely rich and engaging opportunity for the Monster team to get involved with, and learn from students – and vice versa!  Since then, I’ve stayed involved with IDEAS as a Judge, coordinator, and global challenger.

What drew you to be involved with IDEAS?

The IDEAS competition is about more than ideas, it’s about taking an idea and making something out of it.  The entire competition format has been designed to enable hands-on, real world learning and discovery to happen – each team learns by doing, and learns from the process of collaborating to build things, the successes as well as the failures.  I think that is what drew me to the competition initially, and is what makes it truly unique – it’s all about taking action.  In my own life and career, this is the approach I have tended to take – if I get what seems like a good idea, I want to roll up my sleeves and see what I can make happen.  So the learning that happens there, and the reward of having built something, that’s where my affinity for IDEAS comes from.
What role can alumni and community members play in supporting IDEAS’s goals? How would you recommend that alumni get involved?

For alums and the broader MIT community, I think that the Global Challenge is really a great way to start getting involved.  And it’s easy! Depending on your interests and background, you can participate as a mentor, a challenger/stakeholder, or as a coordinator.  The thing that’s great about IDEAS and the Global Challenge being so diverse, rich, and multifaceted is that there is always a number of different ways to get involved.  So, if you’re interested in meeting smart and passionate people, learning new and interesting things, and helping to solve tough problems, then all you need to do is take the competition’s spirit to heart: take action. The one constant over the years is that it has always been educational and rewarding.

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