Magazine Contacts

Yasuyuki Hayama

AXIS inc

24 January 2022 — 4 minutes read

The Doctoral School of Politecnico di Milano allows activating Executive Doctoral programs that enable companies to train their employees through a doctoral path. The training path is built in agreement between the company and the Department and is divided into training and research activities.

Executive Ph.D. students can frame their Ph.D. path within the company’s vision to ensure interaction and integration between the university research and the development and innovation of the company.

The goal of the Executive Doctorate is precisely to intersect the research activity carried out at the university with the needs of companies so that the research can have faster and more effective fallout in production activities.

The company employee who undertakes the Executive Doctorate is offered an opportunity for high-level training and strong personal and professional growth with the possibility of keeping his or her job.

Today we meet Yasuyuki Hayama, an employee of Company AXIS inc who did an executive doctorate in the Department of Design in 2019.

This is a note. It may be short or long.

Hi Yasuyuki, could you tell us a few words about yourself?

Sure. I'm Yasuyuki Hayama, Yasu in short. I am a PhD candidate in the executive course. I work for AXIS, a Japanese design and media company, which publish international design magazine and serve design consulting project, and at the same time, I’m developing my research activity as a PhD candidate.
As a part of the company’s global strategy, I was assigned to undertake research and networking activities with international design specialists in Europe. Since I used to be a master student in PoliDesign, I knew about Politecnico di Milano’s excellence not only in terms of cutting-edge research and education but also in collaborating with many international companies. It is challenging and exciting for me to work with people who gather in this environment. Through diverse collaborative activities, primarily through research activities and projects, I hope to contribute to the long-lasting global constructive friendship between Italy and Japan.

Why did you choose an Executive PhD?

As I explained briefly, I knew that Polimi was a high stimulus environment for research, education, and project works at the global level. I was pretty sure that developing a collaboration with Polimi could positively impact various dimensions on the company’s strategic status. Many professors and colleagues are highly talented and open to collaborating with foreigners, and the university staff is very welcoming. Many companies gather here from all over the world to find opportunities for research and practical projects. Polimi is a so-called “excellent academic and professional ecosystem”, where positive and motivated people gather from around the world. Also, it was my dream that I had long ago to become an academic researcher to contribute to scientific knowledge creation in the international academic world. Lastly, I fell in love with Italy since I was studying in the master course!.

Can you tell us about your PhD area of study?

My research topic is related to design and innovation within the company. More and more companies turn to design as a competitive resource for creating innovative products and services. As a strategic design practitioner and researcher, I am trying to contribute to a deeper understanding of the nature of design and its use in the company’s innovation context, which is becoming more complicated and uncertain. I strongly believe that design can be seen as a “powerful weapon” for companies eager to sustain innovation in the long run. The term “design thinking” has opened the eyes of managers to use design as part of a company’s toolset. However, design has many more essential attributes, which are still in the middle of long journey to theorized both in academic and practical contexts. As an academic designer, I am eager to contribute to producing knowledge through academic design research activities, including both my PhD dissertation and collaborative research work with many other colleagues. Through the creation of academic knowledge, I am eager to contribute on companies’ innovation projects and culture development.

What did you learn during your PhD programme that helped you in your job in your own company?

I am trying to contribute on how knowledge and networks can support a company’s business. It is not like a medicine which has an immediate impact after taking it: knowledge and networks are considered as long-term impact. Nurturing good relationships among us would be the basement for a company’s long-term success.

What was an average workday like for you when you were in the executive doctoral program?

We PhD students must be as much autonomous and self-sustaining as possible. We work on multiple tasks, such as your literature review, workshops, educational works, projects and so on. In my case, I try to be as flexible as possible, making a monthly and weekly schedule. As a PhD student my own research work takes a significant portion of my daily workday. Participating and contributing to educational projects and collaborative projects always gives me dense stimuli, and I always open my mind and try to find time to engage in those activities as much as possible.

Do you have a fond memory of your Design Dept. experience?

I remember fondly the summer school we organized during my first year, together with various universities from all over the world, including the US and other countries of Europe. “Design research prototyping” was the most unique and exciting work: it changed my mindset as an academic researcher. Design research has its own traits: as a future design scholar, that international and stimulating experiment focusing on prototypical research activities gave us a fundamental attitude and a design research mindset.

Would you recommend the executive doctorate?

Of course, yes. If you are highly motivated and have a tough and strong mind and energy, I recommend taking on the challenge of the executive doctorate. It will not be easy, and I am still in the middle of the journey, so I cannot give a complete guide of the journey. If you believe that this path is part of your journey, you can take a further step toward your life as an academic professional.

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