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Brooke Barker has joined ThinkPlace USA

ThinkPlace USA is growing

This will be fun.

It’s a great way of approaching any challenge and it’s a mindset that the newest member of the ThinkPlace USA studio makes her own.

“I take my work seriously but not myself and therefore I aim to approach challenges with a 'this will be fun' attitude and opportunistic outlook,” Brooke Barker says.

ThinkPlace USA is growing. After opening our first American studio in Washington DC earlier this year, we are adding our first American designer to the team.

Brooke is American-born but has spent most of the past six years working in West Africa and India.

“I’m passionate about examining and tackling complex challenges using a community-centered empathetic approach,” she says.


ThinkPlace USA designer Brooke Barker

She has deep experience with inclusive business modeling, microfinance and rural enterprise development as well as project management. She seeks out environments where human-centered design can make impact, scaling interventions, improving economies, and reducing poverty in emerging markets.

Brooke holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and International Business from Iowa State University and a Master’s degree in Emerging Economies and Inclusive Development from King’s College London.

We sat down to ask her a few questions…

TP: Welcome to ThinkPlace. Tell us a bit about yourself…

BB: Thank you!  

I adore traveling, challenging myself, and learning from different perspectives and ways of life. A strategist by training, I’ve worked with a number of diverse clients to help them define their visions and values and design strategic plans toward achieving their missions.

While I enjoy the comforts American life brings such as 24-hour supermarkets and good coffee, some of my happiest and most fulfilling moments have been living and working in remote villages around the world.

I’m also a strategy and design nerd who spends a lot of her free time reading books and articles about our craft--someone stop be from enrolling in another course about Innovation Design!


ThinkPlace USA designer Brooke Barker


TP: Complete these sentences!

When I’m not at work you’ll find me… reading, exploring, or hanging out with my cats

Good design is…  making complex ideas clear, simple, and inspiring

One thing most people don’t know about me is… I was a dancer for 14 years

What really matters to me in life is… my family, my friends, and having adventures

My heroes are… Amartya Sen, Nelson Mandela, Hillary Clinton


TP: What will you be doing at ThinkPlace? What is your role?

BB: As a Strategic Designer at ThinkPlace USA, I’ll be applying human-centered design methods and processes to create healthier environments and improve health behaviors in some of the poorest and most underserved countries in the world.  

I’ll be using co-design and user-driven approaches to ensure solutions are designed to meet both the expressed and the latent needs of many different stakeholders, making their lives easier, healthier, and more fulfilling.


TP: Why ThinkPlace? What attracted you to this company and this role?

BB: While initially I was attracted to the breadth and variety of design challenges ThinkPlace has spearheaded, I was ultimately drawn to the incredible work culture of creativity, collaboration, innovation, and freedom ThinkPlace has cultivated across its studios.  

I also love how field-focused ThinkPlace is, realizing that so much of what we do requires understanding complex conditions and being right in the thick of them to be impactful.  

Plus, we have an incredible team of dedicated, thoughtful, and fun people! Who could say no to working here?


TP: You’ve worked in many different countries all over the world. Is there a moment or two that stands out, when you realised the power and potential of what we you do as a designer/project leader?

BB: Last year I worked with a health technology start-up in Delhi who was interested in expanding their business model beyond their initial focus on air pollution but did not know where or how to concentrate their efforts to drive the most impact based on beneficiary needs and their own capabilities.  

After three days of intense design co-creation, we emerged with a business strategy so innovative and unique, it exceeded all of our expectations around what it means to be a healthcare services provider and create better health for all. Those inspiring moments are what makes being a designer so interesting--guiding people from a place of little to no direction to ending with an audacious solution they never imagined possible.


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