Nifemi Marcus-Bello, MDes, BDes Product Design student at the University of Leeds

Nifemi Marcus-Bello

What have you been doing since finishing your studies? 

Since finishing in 2013, I returned to Lagos, Nigeria, to carry out my mandatory year of service under Nigeria’s National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) program. After completing my service year, I worked with award-winning architectural firm, NLÉ Works as a Product Designer, before moving to my current role in mobile phone design.

What company are you working for, what is your role and what does it involve? 

I currently work as a Lead Industrial Designer at the Nigerian Headquarters of Chinese telecommunications giant, Techno-Mobile. As a member of Tecno’s emerging markets (Africa, Asia, and the Middle East) Phone and Accessory Design team, I design affordable smart phones and accessories suited to the local market. 

What experiences at Leeds do you think have particularly helped with your career/will help with your future career? 

With a focus on user centred-design, my degree equipped me with the problem-solving and analytical skills required for tackling real-life design projects, through coursework and taught sessions which included team projects, case studies and problem-based learning.

My Leeds experience also helped me acquire the critical soft skills required for a career in the dynamic industry of global design. I found the faculty - particularly informal sessions with tutors - extremely helpful in learning how to manage my time, and got my fair share of hard work and hard deadlines to put my time management skills to the test! Another key skill I gained was communication, as it was encouraged to meet regularly with tutors and professors. I found that team projects used as part of module assessments, helped refine my teamwork and interpersonal skills, and with tutors that were always on hand to guide the team, indirect learning outcomes often included understanding more effective ways to communicate ideas and being a better team player.

Looking back, why did you choose to study your particular course and why did you choose the University of Leeds? 

Growing up I was always fascinated by design - the congruence of form and function. As I got older and began to see just how profoundly design affects human life, I decided to pursue a degree in product design to see how I can give back to society by enhancing lives through design. After numerous open days, I went with the University of Leeds based on the even balance of engineering and design, as well as the project based learning that the course promised.

What was the best aspect of the course/the University and why? Any highlights?

The best aspect was working on team projects with other product design and engineering students, as it provided concrete learning examples that helped apply knowledge gained in the classroom to real-life situations, and also (through peer- and self-assessment)  helped me quickly identify what strengths and weaknesses to work on. 

What other activities outside of your studies were you involved in? 

I got involved in numerous activities while at Leeds, the Product Design Society, RAG Fashion Show, and the Product Design Society. The highlight of my extracurricular experience at Leeds was a 6-day bicycle ride from Leeds to Paris to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital, London.

What would you say to students thinking about studying the same course at Leeds/thinking about the same career? 

Studying at the University of Leeds was a fantastic experience. I felt lucky to have professors who were always willing to offer advice on projects and career goals. As a design student, I was able to work with engineering students of various backgrounds, which is something I now do daily and therefore consider invaluable exposure for any aspiring design professional. As an international student, I felt completely supported by the University’s  International Student Office, as I received help with Visa applications and any questions I had, which is quite important when you’re far away from home!