WIN Spotlight: Shaye Roseman

Welcome to a fresh cut of “WIN Spotlight,” our ongoing series that celebrates inspirational women in our community. Each interview features a member of WIN who is championing innovation at her organization. We dig into the diverse perspectives, influencers, missions, drivers, and dreams of these leaders, and of course, share practical tips.

This month, we’re honored to feature long-time WIN supporter Shaye Roseman. As a Research Associate for The Forum for Growth and Innovation at Harvard Business School, Shaye brings a unique perspective on problem solving to the WIN community, and kindly educated us on this at our May event at Work & Co. We caught up with Shaye over coffee in Boston to learn what makes her tick. Enjoy!


Who are you and what do you do? 

Hi, I’m Shaye. I’m a creative strategist, scholar, and award-winning entrepreneur. Until recently I was a fellow at Harvard Business School, where I studied innovation management as part of Clay Christensen’s research team. I published new insights for innovation practitioners, and was a regular contributor to the team’s blog and podcast. Before that, I worked at strategy and design firm Fahrenheit 212, and founded a civic technology startup that won New York’s citywide innovation competition. I'll be returning to Harvard this fall as an MBA student.

What are the life moments that most influenced who/where you are today?

My parents raised me on a steady diet of 1970s British and American punk rock. It taught me at a young age to go my own way and not to follow the pack, that nonconformity can be cool. I held onto that idea through high school and college, and even use it today to understand aspects of my professional life. 


If you had to choose one, who is the woman that most inspires you? Why?

My mom is the most badass woman I know. Not only is she incredibly professionally accomplished, she is also extremely well-read and is able to instantly connect with people and make them feel comfortable, even if they’ve only just met. Sometimes I’m surprised to find myself subtly turning into her as I get older, but mostly I’m ok with it because that has really always been the goal. 

What is your creative ritual?

I find exercise to be incredibly meditative. It allows me to access that flow state where I’m barely conscious of time passing. I like to clear my head with a run or a workout, then take an indulgent shower and settle in to work. I also believe that a cluttered space makes for a cluttered mind. I’m an avid knoller and have been known to organize a whole room before I’m able to be creative in it. Finally, it goes without saying: there is no substitute for a good cup of coffee.  

What do you never leave the house without and why?

Sunscreen! I'm very fair and have neglected my skin for a long time, so I’m now trying really hard to take care of it. I also have a pair of Bose noise-cancelling earbuds that I take everywhere. They’re tiny and allow me to shut the world out at will: essential for New York City Subways, long-haul flights, and achieving unshakeable focus in your favorite local cafe. 


What does a typical night after work look like?

I love coming home and cooking an elaborate meal. This is another creative ritual that I inherited from my dad. Lately, I've been working from The New York Times Cooking app and a Smitten Kitchen cookbook that I found used at a favorite local bookshop. 

What is the last book you read and why?

I read The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander because I am trying to educate myself about mass incarceration and the history of racism and racial control in America. Before that, I read Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential – see my “typical night after work” above. 


What is your favorite podcast and why?

I loved Slate’s Slow Burn and MSNBC’s Bag Man, hosted by Rachel Maddow. Both tell the lesser-known stories surrounding Watergate (and the Clinton administration’s scandals) that, a generation later, have largely escaped the collective conscience. Solid, stranger-than-fiction entertainment. 

I also have to give a shout out to The Disruptive Voice, a Harvard Business School podcast that I host occasionally. Recent favorite episodes include one that I recorded with personal idols Todd Rose and Bob Moesta – if you want to dive really deep into the theoretical foundations of design research, give it a try.

What is your favorite innovation and why? 

The Measure app on my iPhone is truly impressive and endlessly handy. They’re certainly hiding a lot of sophisticated technology behind that simple interface.

Name a fundamental human truth you recently realized.

Even if you feel like an impostor, you are probably not. Most people (even many of the experts!) are just making it up as they go along.


What product, service, or industry do you think is most ripe for innovation? Why?

Healthcare in this country is incredibly expensive and opaque to patients. Other regulated industries such as financial services have really embraced customer-centricity and technological innovation. That is now beginning to happen in healthcare, though I think we still have a long way to go.  

What unique perspective do women in innovation bring?

So many different ones! Innovation thrives on a diversity of perspectives and women are not a monolith. We should strive to bring as many viewpoints as possible into the process. Otherwise we end up with cars that are safer in collisions for men than for women.

If you had an innovation magic wand at work, what would it do to help you be a better innovator?

It would gather all of my favorite collaborators in one place so that we could all harness the power of each others’ brains on demand. Actually, I have a Slack channel that does this pretty well...


What is your favorite quotation?

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” —Hunter S. Thompson

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Advocate for yourself. Don't expect anybody else to do it for you.


Photos & interview done by Katie Burwick

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