Episode 12


Episode 12 - 17 May 2018

The next need

As Global Lead of Philips’ Trend Lab and Materials Innovation, Corien Pompe’s ingenuity transcends the disciplines in which she works, so that she can follow her vision wherever it wanders. And in a world of endless technological advancement and innovation, she chooses to put the human element first.

Like riddles? Well wrap your head around this: “If you’re living in the future, well…fast forward: actually, as we speak it is the past, right?” Welcome to the mind of Corien Pompe, and specifically, the kind of ‘years ahead’ reality she lives in at work and in her career. It’s this kind of thinking that triggers a spark of inspiration for Corien.

“Sometimes I forget that I’m living in the here and now,” says Corien. “That I’m not there yet. But we have to live ahead to understand people’s next need.”

Philips’ mission is to improve 3 billion lives. There’s nine 0s after that 3, and dedicating a career to that mission can seem certainly seem overwhelming. But Corien isn’t stuck in the problem; she’s already delving well into the future, looking back at how we’ll get there.

In her role she’s responsible for gauging some of the nascent trends and innovation in materials that develops in culture today, that will one day be the ‘next big thing.’ Anything from concepts, touching upon all senses, to new technologies and materialized implementation, that’s Corien’s game.

First up she wants to dispel one myth: “Industrial design is not about art,” she says. “It’s about bringing the dots together.”

“Industrial design is about bringing the dots together.” 

“And it’s about knowing the customer and knowing your technologies.”

For anyone immersed in what the future will be – from scientists to statisticians to sci-fi fans – the present time can be a disorienting place. We are constantly handed hopes and fed fears but Corien considers it as an extremely interesting melting pot of influences.

And within this general state of ‘future movements,’ Corien in her career has seen enough of the past to see clearly ahead. Yet the path of a pioneer is often a troubled one.

A career in innovation


 “If you are in the field of innovation, it’s not just given,” she explains. “It’s not a path that has been travelled already – it’s a new path.”

“So you have to open up all your knowledge and all your creativity to make it work.”

Corien embodies the interdisciplinary spirit. Not only does she see the connecting threads between wildly diverse forms such as music, art, drama, technology and engineering, but the connections between art and science are so integrated to her that she doesn’t even question it.

If anything, she questions why people continue to think of things as segregated and distinct.

Corien loves a clear picture and a white canvas, and in her small painting studio she can simply empty her head and "create room for the new.”

“I nurture my spark by being open to reframing and inspiring signals I can receive in contact with people” 

People often like to belittle things that they can’t understand. Corien has no such inclination. She is, after all, the daughter of architects; those who stand on pillars of art and science, confident enough in their knowledge of both that they don’t have to choose sides.

“We were educated and raised in a very open way,” she explains. It was a childhood home where “’develop your talents and enjoy the uniqueness of people’, was the main objective.”

Corien loves a clear picture and a white canvas, both in the literal and figurative sense. And fortunately, she has a small painting studio where she can do both.

Corien says it’s a place where you can just “empty your head and create room for the new,” exploring potentials, materials and colors from a different perspective. “One can learn a lot by expressing your inner life and confronting yourself with the limits, and researching the elements of influence,” she says.

But what’s that got to do with innovation at Philips? Well, we like people who aren’t afraid of what’s in them, and have the courage to do something with it. People who are crossing disciplines as naturally as they would cross a street, and who’d like to get their inventions out of their heads and into their hands.

People like Corien; the one here now and the one in the future she’s working towards. 

Set a vision for your future career, by following these tips from Corien:

  • Be people-centric – almost everything we do starts with the need of people

  • Work together with people and enjoy their diversity

  • Aim high and go fast

  • Take ownership for your working life; nobody else will

  • Enjoy the ride, no matter how hard it gets

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Listen to the podcast to hear Corien’s this story, including a visit to her studio, the role of drama in collaboration, and nurturing creativity.

What sort of future would you paint for yourself, and the rest of the world? Check out Philips for a career that might just surprise you.

A dynamic career that no one could have planned.
Even you.

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