Aug 17. 2021

Mr Evans, Please Take a Chair - Introducing PDR’s Newest Professor

Jarred Evans, Director at PDR, is now a Professor of Applied Design Innovation. As news of his title breaks, Jarred shares his thoughts...

An old rugby coach once told me; ‘If you want to get better, make sure you play with people better than you.’

While my rugby career was somewhat short-lived, this teaching has been one of the mantras I’ve followed throughout my career. Seeking out the very best companies, the most challenging projects and the most talented colleagues to work with wherever and whenever I can.

Perhaps it is this that has underpinned my recent success in being awarded a Chair in Applied Design Innovation at Cardiff Metropolitan University. I now find myself in esteemed company that is both daunting and hugely exciting.

My day to day job is unchanged, and my focus remains on managing and driving PDR to the next level. To work with the very best, tackle challenging problems and produce work that truly makes a difference to those we engage with. While nothing changes superficially in this mission, there is a huge opportunity to learn, develop, grow and collaborate with Professorial colleagues from around the world who are recognised experts in their fields.

I see the new title as not only a recognition of achievement and a great honour, but also a powerful opportunity to learn and develop both myself and PDR further.

Jarred Evans | Director | PDR

The last ten years in particular have seen PDR grow significantly. We have achieved substantial international significance and reach, we have secured a steady flow of prestigious research awards, won over 50 major international design awards and attained a number 1 in the UK and a top 25 spot globally in the International Forum Design Rankings.

It’s brilliant progress we are justly proud of, but I find myself as hungry and as evangelical as I have ever been (perhaps even more so...) about the power and impact that truly great design innovation can have.

I see the new title as not only a recognition of achievement and a great honour, but also a powerful opportunity to learn and develop both myself and PDR further.

The process to be awarded this is daunting and involves many months of preparation prior to a detailed review of my work, its quality, impact and esteem by leading academics and industry leaders from around the world. If deemed of sufficient standard, it is then further reviewed and analysed by an awarding panel at the University itself.

My focus is not only the generation of new knowledge and insights but crucially the application of this knowledge to make a positive difference.

Jarred Evans | Director | PDR

The Professorial title (equivalent to Full Professor in the United States) is awarded to someone who has made a significant and important contribution to their field. The applied innovation I have undertaken, underpinned by strong research but very much focussed on impact and engagement within the wider community, was seen to be of importance to society, industry and to the University.

I have to say that the award itself has left me with mixed feelings.

I rarely get accused of false humility but I have questioned if I really belong in this somewhat exclusive cohort of people.

Other Professors I know in this space are people I respect deeply. They are without doubt experts in their field. They are definitely more academic, they have a significantly stronger research pedigree and are without doubt more published.

I am certainly not an academic in the traditional sense. There are no students or teaching responsibilities and my focus is, and always will be, about not only the generation of new knowledge and insights but crucially the application of this knowledge to make a positive difference.

It’s a reflection of Cardiff Metropolitan University’s commitment to world class applied research and impact that it has supported and recognised this work; a perspective for which I am grateful.

So what next? The Professorship is a marker of recognition on a longer journey and never a destination in itself. I will continue unchanged in my role at PDR. Our work is the best it has ever been and we have the best team we’ve ever had... but there is so much more to do, so much more we can do.

The Professorial title not only helps me to ‘raise my game’ further but gives me an opportunity to reflect on the responsibilities it brings and to learn from my more academic colleagues. It carries a responsibility not only to continue to hold and drive the highest possible standards, but also to give back to the subject of applied design innovation I love so much and the future generations of practitioners.

All of us at PDR are very proud of Jarred’s achievements and wish to congratulate him on being awarded this very well deserved Professorship.

Professor Andrew Walters | Director of Research | PDR

“Jarred’s Professorship comes in recognition of a long history leading the innovation missions of both PDR and Cardiff Metropolitan University.

“In his leadership of PDR, Jarred has sought ways to develop very high performing teams across both our commercial consulting and academic research operations, ensuring that research rigor informs design practice and that design practice informs research agendas. The effectiveness of this relationship has seen PDR recognised as one of the world’s top design consultancies and a leading authority in design research, demonstrating Jarred’s leadership regarding contemporary academic missions around innovation and impact beyond academia.

“All of us at PDR are very proud of Jarred’s achievements and wish to congratulate him on being awarded this very well deserved Professorship.”

- Professor Andrew Walters, Director of Research at PDR