Claudia Nicolai

Claudia Nicolai

Claudia Nicolai

Co-director and Academic Director | HPI School of Design Thinking in Potsdam

Dr. Claudia Nicolai is co-director and academic director of the HPI School of Design Thinking in Potsdam. Together with her team, she designs the academic programs for participants, the design thinking coaching programs, develops innovation projects with partner institutions (companies, non-profit organizations and research institutions) and conducts research on business design, innovative workplaces, leadership and teamwork.

Claudia is also responsible for collaborating with international academic institutions in design thinking and related fields. She has co-created the Genovasi D-School in Kuala Lumpur / Malaysia and the HPI D-School at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, as well as the international Biothinking program at Charité.

She is currently involved in the development of Design Thinking schools in Central and Latin America (Mexico and Chile). She teaches as visiting professor / assistant professor at the University of Witten / Herdecke, RWTH Aachen University, Berlin University of the Arts, openlab / Stockholm and Elisava School of Design / Barcelona.

In addition to teaching and learning, she leads design thinking research at HPI D-School with three funded research projects in the areas of innovation networks, future of work and team leadership. She also strives to impact future education, change management, and entrepreneurship through close collaboration with schools as well as international leadership programs (e.g., Montessori schools, Melton Foundation’s Young Global Leadership Program). She serves as a mentor at Startupbootcamp, Impact Hub, and various startups.

Claudia studied Business Administration, Economics and Social Sciences and received her PhD in “Strategic Innovation”. She has gained experience by founding her own companies as well as by working as a strategic consultant and as a business manager in the consumer goods sector. She loves to encourage participants and professionals to become innovators, entrepreneurs and change agents.

Areas of Expertise

Consumer Ethnography – Innovation Management – Business Design

Design Thinking Program Development & Teaching – Project Management

Team Management – Collaboration – Creative Spaces – Cross-Cultural Management