Papers and Presentations


Raymond Turner has been described as ‘a thought leader’ (Sean McNulty, Chairman, Dolmen-design and innovation, Ireland); ‘a design legend’ (Clive Grinyer, Director of Customer Experience, Barclays Bank, UK); ‘an inspiration and mentor to many’ (James Berry, Director, Woods Bagot Architecture, UK); ‘one of the few who have dominated the profession of Design Management’ (the late Peter Gorb, Life Fellow of the DMI and Professor of London Business School); and having had ‘an illustrious career in design, design management and design leadership’ (Robert Blaich, former Design Director, Philips, USA).

Raymond’s book, ‘Design Leadership -– securing the strategic value of design’ has been hailed as ‘a Masterclass on the how and why of design leadership’ that ‘takes design off its pedestal and places the thorny issues of design management and design leadership in a modern business context’ (Mike Ganderton, Senior Creative Director, The LEGO Group). William Hannon, Founder, Design Management Institute, USA, says ‘Turner treats design issues

in a refreshingly holistic manner that avoids the trap of fragmenting design into unrelated pieces. This book belongs on every executive desk, not on drawing boards.’

So, what is the basis of these accolades?


For Raymond Turner, Design Leadership is a commercial and social imperative, integral to what makes business successful, government effective and society safer and more enjoyable for everyone. He sees a clear distinction between Design Leadership, the means by which we can envision the future, and Design Management, the means by which we create it.

For over 40 years he has helped companies secure strategic value from their design investments. His whole career has been focused on making design work. He is one of the few design professionals who has held senior posts on both sides of the client-designer divide. Raymond was Design Director of two companies, London Transport, the provider of public transport services in the capital, and BAA, the world’s largest airport company. He has also been Managing Director of two international multidisciplinary design consultancies, Kilkenny Design in Ireland and Wolff Olins in London.

For 15 years from 2002 he ran his own consulting business, Raymond Turner Associates – consulting in design management and leadership.His particular emphasis was on helping companies use design to realise corporate objectives, delivering enhanced customer experience and developing design awareness in the thinking of business leaders and managers.

Raymond was the Senior Design Management Consultant for Eurotunnel, the transportation system connecting England and France. As a design director, he has steered the work of design teams for major infrastructure projects, including Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport and the Heathrow Express high-speed rail link to London. For Roca, the world’s leading ceramic company, he led a team that developed a business transformational program based on Design Leadership. As part of the New West End Company’s management team, Raymond helped give direction to the development of a Masterplan for central London. Its focus was on giving back the streets to pedestrians. Later, in Ireland, he designed a revised Masterplan for the centre of Galway City, giving it a new urban heart.

He has been design advisor to many companies, large and small, and mentor to individual senior design leaders.


Raymond Turner’s career began as a technical apprentice in 1963 with the Marconi Company, a subsidiary of English Electric, UK. He left early to study design for four years, after which he worked for Redfearn National Glass, UK, designing bottles and jars, and then Reckitt and Coleman, UK, designing packaging for household and pharmaceutical products. In 1974 he joined the Gillette Company’s research and development laboratory as Senior Creative Designer. He worked with a small team responsible for the design concepts of many of the group’s new products, including those for Braun, Germany; Gillette Appliances, USA; Papermate, USA; and S.T. Dupont, France.

In 1978 he moved to Ireland to take up the post of Industrial Design Manager at Kilkenny Design, the newly established Irish National Design Authority. His brief was to establish industrial design as an integral part of Ireland’s design capability. Here, he began to explore the conceptual difference between‘designing things right’ and ‘designing the right things’. Within a few years he was appointed Head of Design Consultancy and Assistant Chief Executive. Under his leadership Kilkenny Design expanded into an expert multidisciplinary design consultancy service. The work covered private, public and semi-state organizations in Ireland, as well as companies in Europe, USA, The Philippines, Nepal and China.

Raymond left Ireland in 1986 having been approached by London Transport to join the company as its first design director. He was responsible for developing the group’s design policy and guiding its implementation for London Underground, London Buses and the Docklands Light Railway. Reporting directly to the Chairman/Managing Director, at 39 years old Raymond was the youngest director ever employed by the company. He became a member of the London Transport executive committee and its Design Policy Group, and board member of two subsidiary companies, London Transport Advertising and London Transport Museum.

He tells an amusing story about his first day with the company. One meeting was with the Managing Director of London Underground, an older man very experienced in building and running railways. Raymond was greeted with a welcoming smile and an outstretched hand. However, the MD’s opening words were ‘Although I am very pleased to meet you, I think you should know that I did not support your appointment. As a functional, rather than an operational, director, I think you are going to get in my way for making change!’ Steadying himself on the back of a nearby chair, Raymond replied ‘Thank you for being so frank. Let me be equally frank in my reply. You can take it from me that I will not interfere with any relationship you or your managers have with any of your designers unless, of course, I don’t think you are getting value for money!’ Both men went on to develop a strong working relationship that extended well beyond Raymond’s tenure at London Transport.

This belief that design and business are inseparable was at the heart of Raymond’s encounter with the MD of London Underground, and is something that has dominated his pioneering approach to design management and design leadership ever since.

While at London Transport, he guided the design development of new rolling stock for London Underground’s Central Line, the passenger information system and the later stages of the Underground’s station refurbishment programme. In addition, he established a range of design standards and a system for managing design called ‘Making Design Work’.

Three years later Raymond moved to one of Europe’s most renowned branding consultancies, Wolff Olins, where he was a member of the Group Board, Managing Director of its corporate identity business and the principal consultant for many major clients. Outstanding among these roles was his work on the Eurotunnel project, the historic first rail link under the seabed between England and France. He was Principal Design Management Consultant for four years, leading the English and French design management teams. Responsibilities included strategic design direction of the architecture and interiors of terminal buildings, plus the industrial design of tourist and heavy-goods vehicle rail shuttles. His team was also responsible for the design management of information and wayfinding systems, staff uniforms and the branding of its operating service.

Because so many design consultancies were involved in this massive project, he quickly learned the valuable lesson of providing firm direction but with a light management touch.

In 1993, for the second time, Raymond was approached to take up the post of Group Design Director for BAA, the world’s largest privately owned airport company, with operations in the UK, USA, Italy and Australia. He reported directly to the Board, his brief embracing the overall vision, direction and leadership of design, while ensuring its strategic focus and co-ordination across the group’s airport and non-airport activities.

At BAA Raymond set himself two groundbreaking objectives:

  • that design would be used to provide a clear and practical link between the decisions of the company’s main Board, its investment programmes and day-to-day operational activities,

  • that every pound spent on design would be used to manifest an aspect of the company’s strategic purpose.

When asked if these objectives were met he replies, simply, ‘This is something I must wonder about and others must know!’

One thing is certain, under Raymond’s leadership BAA developed a much greater awareness of the strategic role of design, particularly when creating and managing customer experiences – the foundation upon which corporate reputation, and subsequent success, is built. The design standards, management systems and culture that he put in place were all focused on delivering strategic business benefit as well as enhanced experiences for staff, passengers and business partners.

One of his particular concerns at BAA was trying to understand what the airports of the future needed to be like, not for academic reasons, but to help ensure that ‘what was designed today would be relevant to the world of tomorrow’. To this end, he initiated a programme of practical study, ‘A view from the future’. The results proved to be a critical influence on many subsequent projects. One was Heathrow Express, the high-speed train service between London and Heathrow Airport, and more particularly BAA’s largest- ever capital investment project, Heathrow’s £4.5 billion ($6.3 billion) fifth passenger terminal, which opened in 2008. For this, Raymond provided design leadership to a team of 650 designers and engineers, including five architectural practices.

In 2002 Raymond Turner took the courageous decision to leave corporate life and set up his own consulting company, Raymond Turner Associates – consulting in design leadership and management. As he puts it, he started to ‘work for himself, but never by himself’.

One of the drivers for this change in his professional life was his fundamental belief that the money spent on design was the largest single sum of money the board of most companies knows the least about. It was this awareness that he wanted to bring to a wider client base, made possible by running his own business.

This consultancy, based in the UK and Ireland, concentrated on helping companies improve their performance in three ways:

  • Maximizing strategic value from their design investments, directing and managing design on major infrastructure projects, and helping smaller companies to use design more effectively.

  • Delivering enhanced customer experience through envisioning, design, communications and behavioral change.

  • Developing design awareness in business leaders and managers.

This has been the main focus of Raymond’s professional life for the past 15 years, during which he has worked for many high profile companies across a wide range of industries. These have included transportation, local and national government, construction and city planning, and public broadcasting, as well as the manufacture of household and leisure products. His ability to work with multidisciplinary teams has enabled clients to maximize design effectiveness within strict financial and time constraints.

How design leadership could help direct the development of town planning projects has been a special interest. He worked on two schemes. The first was concerned with creating more space for pedestrians and residents in the West End of London, particularly in and around Bond Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street – all without compromising necessary vehicular access. The second was providing a planning concept for extending the city centre of Galway, Ireland, utilising unused land to create a vibrant new waterside destination. Masterplans for both schemes were produced and key elements from them have been incorporated into the development plans of both city authorities.

Raymond has served as Non-Executive Chairman and Non-Executive Director of two design consultancies and has been a design mentor to several, European based design leaders.

Most recently he chaired the Design Vision Steering Group for HS2, the UK’s most ambitious capital project in over 100 years. This high-speed railway system will open-up investment potential countrywide for many generations to come,

Raymond’s qualifications include electrical and mechanical engineering and a First Class Honours degree in Industrial Design from Leeds College of Art, UK. He is a graduate of the Advanced Management Program at Tuck Business School, Dartmouth College, USA. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Technology from London City University and an Honorary Master of Arts Degree from the University for the Creative Arts, UK. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Society of Designers, UK, has been a member of the Design Management Institute for 25 years and a Research Fellow at Lancaster University, UK.

As well as being employed in full time, and very demanding roles, Raymond also held a number of other posts. These included Design Advisor to the Bank of England and a member of IBM-UK’s Design Board, the only non-company person at that time to have done so. Also, for a number of years he chaired Design Dimension, an educational trust based in Yorkshire, UK, and was Chairman of the UK’s Design Business Association’s Design Effectiveness Awards for five years. He has been an external examiner and advisor for many university-level design courses including London’s Royal College of Art, the Surrey Institute of Art and Design, UK, and the School of Design, part of Glasgow School of Art, Scotland.

Throughout his career, Raymond has spoken regularly at universities and conferences on three continents. His theme has usually been the strategic value of design leadership and management to business, government and society. Also, he has been a frequent contributor to international design journals with papers such as ‘Design and Business – who calls the shots?’; ‘Milestones in design management’; Transformational Synergy’; ‘Selecting Designers – one client’s way of auditing an entire industry’; ‘Design and Business DNA’; ‘Designing the Future’; and ‘Design Leadership – a commercial imperative’.


Raymond’s many achievements in design can be summarised as follows:

1/  Emphatically pioneered Design Leadership and Design Management in business, particularly in large corporations, having been a thought leader in defining the differences between the two disciplines.

2/  Acknowledged throughout the design industry as an activist in securing the strategic value of design in business, government and society.

3/  Held director level posts with two large commercial organisations and two international design consultancies, as well as being a practising designer for three manufacturing companies.

4/  Ran an independent consultancy in design leadership and management for 15 years.

5/  Provided strategic direction for design teams of major infrastructure projects, largely related to transportation.

6/  Pioneered a better understanding of the role of Design Leadership with respect to its role in envisioning the future, shaping and managing customer experience and helping line managers develop design skills.

7/  Created a national capability of Industrial Design in Ireland.

8/  Contributed enthusiastically to education, bringing his experience into the learning environment through his roles as examiner, lecturer and mentor.

At the beginning of 2018 Raymond chose to end his commercial practice, Raymond Turner Associates – consulting in design leadership and management. On a selective basis, he would continue serving as a non- executive director, mentor or strategic design advisor when required. He says, ‘It is very hard to think I can suddenly walk away from nearly 50 years of involvement in design! I may well write some more and lecture if asked to do so.’

He hopes this life change will give him more time to spend on the other things he is so keen on, such as fly-fishing, fell walking, playing the piano and listening to music, reading and art appreciation.

However, perhaps the last word on Raymond Turner should come from Tim Selders, Director of Sharp Panda (Netherlands) ‘Your leaving the industry will be sad for the industry – we may not just let you wander off!’

Raymond is married and lives in Dublin, Ireland and Winchester, UK.

He is author of: ‘Design – securing the strategic value of design’ published by Gower, ISBN 978-1-4094-6323-8.

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