Mina Hezarkhani

When she joined Namahn as a Business Developer, Mina had not set foot in Belgium, let alone the Namahn office in Brussels. A native of Tehran, the ‘four seasons city’, where she lives and works, Mina is passionate about her home city, country and the huge potential she sees in Iran for human-centred design: “This is not a niche market!”

Do you have a design background?

Until now my focus has been more on technology. My first degree was in business management and computer engineering. To pay my way through university, I worked in the IT department at Mahan Air. On graduation I joined their Enterprise Software Development Team as a Systems Analyst. Although this involved working with internal customers to identify their software needs and helping systems architects and software engineers in the process of understanding and solving those needs, I still missed the ‘human’ aspect. So I embarked on a Masters in Human Resources Management at Tehran University. Mid-way through my masters I realised that the role of Systems Analyst was not for me, so I left Mahan Air and spent the next few months thinking about what to do next.

What led you to Namahn?

In 2015, Tehran University invited Namahn to give a lecture on human-centred design. During that visit, the university introduced Joannes to Mahan Air and six months later he came back to Tehran to give a workshop there on Systemic Design. I was lucky to participate. Until then, I’d never heard of human-centred design. I was immediately hooked! Because I had already left my job, I had time to accompany Joannes around Tehran and help him explore the business possibilities. My business development role followed on from there. Today, I am responsible for introducing Namahn to the local market and vice versa: opening the eyes of Namahn to the possibilities existing here. In a way, I’m helping to build bridges between Belgium and Iran.

Why does Namahn tick all the boxes for you?

It’s everything I am looking for in one place: technology, business, creativity, design and the human aspect. I can use my studies and professional experience while learning more about systemic design, which is totally new in Iran. It’s also an international role. As a child, I went to the English Institute in Tehran for four years to learn English, but the most progress I’ve made has been in the first months of working with Namahn!

What makes Iran fertile ground for human-centred design?

As an illustration: we have a new hospital in Tehran with excellent infrastructure, well-trained people and state-of-the art equipment. However, they don’t yet know how to deliver services in the best way to patients. All the elements are there; they just need service design (and Namahn) to optimise them. There are many more examples like this…

Would you describe yourself as an entrepreneur?

During my studies I bought and sold designer clothing in Tehran, but that was more of a hobby. Above all, I love meeting new people so business development is suited to my character. And of course, it would be great to establish a Namahn office in Tehran one day! Iran is a huge country and a totally different marketplace to Europe. We need local designers who speak the language and understand the culture to serve this market in the future.

Your greatest achievement so far?

Next question please. I still have lots of things to achieve!

What motivates you in life?

To make the world a better place to live in, first for myself and then for others. You cannot make the world a better place without working on yourself and being a good person each day.