Veronica Heaven is dedicated to bridging the gap between business and academia. Her latest venture is a collaboration with Iggesund on a “future of packaging” theme. The project challenges design students across the UK with real-life briefs.
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Veronica Heaven, CEO and founder of The Heaven Company.
So, what’s the story with that marvellous name of yours, Veronica Heaven?
“What great luck it is to have such a name! It’s a great name and gives me a lot to live up to. It sounds aspirational with a feel-good factor, so it’s ideal for my business – The Heaven Company.”
“There are differences between how business works and the usual mode of operating in academia.”
Could you give us an elevator pitch version of what the Student initiative, the collaboration with Iggesund, is about?
“Through the Student initiative and Iggesund briefs, we are working on future-themed perspectives and projects with young people who will become the designers of tomorrow. We encourage university students to make the packaging of day-to-day products more sustainable and to look at the possible effects of technology trends on global brands as well as on entrepreneurs and small businesses.”
What is the most challenging aspect of bridging the gap between academia and business?
“There are differences between how business works and the usual mode of operating in academia. In the business world ‘responsiveness’ is a by-word and the general expectation is that things happen quickly or in a timely way. As the facilitators of Student initiative projects, we help to overcome the disparity and bridge the gap between business and university, both from an academic point of view and as a student learning experience.”
More information: Iggesund Academy and the Student initiative
Pasta packaging by Elisha Hook and the Honey twist packaging by Leah Watson both from NUA (Norwich).
What would you say is the biggest difference for the students to work on a brief from a company rather than on a normal university project?
“Our briefs expose students to conditions that require them to tackle both industrial and academic needs within one project. We challenge them to devise and explain their ideas in a way that is expected in a commercial environment. Also, through the Student initiative students are able to work with an actual client. This requires a level of professionalism that they may not normally have to display.”
In the briefs given to the students, emphasis is put on Iggesund’s sustainability work. How accustomed are the students to taking this aspect into consideration in their own work?
“Degree-level undergraduates are involved in the Student initiative and many are hugely bright, engaged individuals who are excited by the opportunity. We find that ‘saving the world’ is a big priority for many Millennials, so the sustainability agenda and Iggesund’s work tap into what they care about.”
What parts of the briefs have been the most difficult for the students to interpret and deliver on?
“Generally, language and tone of voice (visual as well as copy) are tricky areas but we encourage that aspect. The most successful students tend to take their projects further: they have a strong idea and are then able to articulate it visually and verbally.”
Related article: Meet Brian Webb
In what ways is year two different from the first year?
“This year we have introduced a wider business context to each brief. This enables the students to gain insight into some of the complexities of the commercial world and the technological changes, allowing them to become aware of factors in the business environment. We also include assessment criteria, so that participants know what we consider when we review their work outcomes with our industry panel at the formal judging session.”
If you were to dream a little, what would be the best thing that could come out of the Student initiative?
“I would love to see some of the winning work go into production and become a commercial reality. I’d love to build a society of young people who have been through Brief Cases and who could become a hub for recruitment, new thinking and collaborative projects and work as tomorrow’s problem solvers. I’d also like to extend Brief Cases’ international reach.”
TEXT: JOHAN LINDBERG PHOTO: ANDREAS BLECKMANN