Associate Consulting Professor
All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them”. (Galileo Galilei). This quote best captures Zia’s approach to learning and discovery. His background, both professional and personal, reflects an eclectic mix of experiences and career choices that have led him to an interest in design thinking and its application in a corporate environment and within a software design context.
Zia was born in Pakistan (but married to an Indian- a small contribution to world peace), and did his undergraduate in International Affairs and Economics from Macalester College, followed by a MS in International Affairs from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Following Georgetown he worked for several years for the World Bank- initially focused on designing health care systems in Southern Africa then engaged in the area of political risk insurance and project finance topics in South and East Asia. Following this he did his MBA from Harvard Business School and joined Goldman Sachs in New York as an investment banker.
Not being content to live in an “Excel” world, Zia joined SAP in 1999 and has thrived on being an Intraprenuer within SAP having started and co-lead SAPMarkets, a b2b company focused on electronic marketplaces, and founding several new concepts and teams including SAP’s Corporate Strategy Group and Design Services Team (DST). The DST has been a forerunner in exploring the application of user led design techniques in the development and delivery of enterprise software. This experience led to the collaboration with the d-school and the creation of the course titled “Software Design Experiences” that he co-taught with Hasso Plattner (co-founder of SAP) and Terry Winnograd. He is now co-teaching a course titled “Designing Liberation Technologies” with Joshua Cohen and Terry Winnograd.
Zia recently completed a 10 year career as Executive Vice President at SAP AG – the global business software leader. He is currently CEO of Streetline Inc. – a start up focused on sensor based smart city solutions. Zia is also co-founder of Imuka Singers – a Tanzania based social enterprise community music group and a board member of DIL (Developments in Literacy) – a non-profit that builds schools for girls education in Pakistan.
Zia has two daughters that insist they are “half Indian, half Pakistani and half American”. He enjoys biking, late night C-SPAN, cricket and helping to shape the world we live in!