Busy Burr shares how human-centered design and empathy can help us become more intentional with our creativity and designs for seniors.

About the speaker

Busy Burr is Vice President at Humana and Head of Healthcare Trend and Innovation, based in Silicon Valley. In this role, she leads a 50+ person team driving cross-company efforts to deliver transformational solutions that improve health outcomes, create superior member experiences, and bend the trend on health care costs. The HTI team drives External Discovery, Innovation Partnerships, Product Development and Trend Product Portfolio Management for the company.

Before joining Humana in 2015, she was Managing Director of Citi Ventures and led large-scale business transformation efforts as the Global Head of Citigroup’s DesignWorks. Among her accomplishments at Citi was the digital, process and client experience transformation of Citi’s Global Private Bank, which received innovation awards as Spear’s Private Bank of the Year and Euromoney’s Best Overall Bank. She is the author of From Ideas to Impact, a playbook for executing innovation in a global enterprise.

Busy’s innovation bug started early. When she was in the 3rd grade, she built a time machine out of a refrigerator box. It was a disappointing failure, but it marked the first of her many adventures into disrupting the status quo. Since then, her inspirational leadership and passion for customer experience has resulted in several ground-breaking businesses and products, and she holds patents (some pending) in mass-customization, alternative currency and social payments.

Busy’s unique blend of skills and her wicked sense of humor have been honed as a technology investment banker, a global brand marketer, an entrepreneur-in-residence and as the founder and CEO of a Silicon Valley startup. She spent seven years in investment banking at Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse First Boston executing IPOs and M&A deals for some of the best companies in the technology space. As Vice President of Global Brand Management at Gap, Inc. she was responsible for aligning the product, retail, online, advertising and merchandising efforts for the four Gap brands around the world. As Entrepreneur-in-Residence at eBay, she led the creation of an innovative social e-commerce platform.

At Humana, Busy founded the company’s strategic investing practice, Humana Health Ventures, and built a world-class team and reputation in healthcare venturing and innovation in a single year. In 2017, she was named to the Global Corporate Venturing (GCV) Powerlist, placing her among the top 100 corporate venture leaders in the world. Every year, she and her team meet with hundreds of healthcare startups, innovators and investors to identify the most-promising partners and innovative opportunities for Humana. In addition, she established and directs the work of the new products foundry to design, build and commercialize platforms and solutions that promise to generate a return on health.

Busy holds an MBA from Stanford and a BA in Economics from Smith College. She was named one of Silicon Valley’s Women of Influence and has been honored as Frost & Sullivan’s Innovator of the Year. A sought-after speaker and collaborator, she is also a long-time performing member of the Bay Area improv troupe Subject to Change.

Favorite quotes from this talk See all

To design for seniors, we have to be looking in ourselves more. Design to that emotional truth. Design to that timeless you inside of you. You are not your meat suit. You are the vibrant, alive, breathing, loving, engaging, whole, thoughtful, hilarious, joyful you. — Busy Burr

Don't design for some mystical, cute, little old neighbor lady because that's the wrong frame. You're designing for a jazz musician, for a college professor, an airline pilot, for a soccer coach, a navy commander. Because to design, to delight, you need to design for emotional reality, which is the truth of who they are. — Busy Burr

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    2012 04 14 16.13.07 corte

    Yes, baby, you timeless being right there - LET´S SEE OUR AMAZING BEINGS THROUGH FLESH AND CLOTHES!!! Millenium challenge! I began to practice, or better saying, I´ve realized that when my mother came with ELA. it was hard but was the most impressive, extraordinary moment of living above appearance.

    Silvia Fittipaldi
    Brant pensive in b w

    You are not your meat suit…until you are.

    When your meat suit starts to fail, which is the very hallmark of aging, then it becomes increasingly difficult to identify with the ageless you inside. At its very core, designing for “seniors” (a word we don’t like, by the way) means designing for the failing meat suit, with its trembling hands, incontinence, lack of mobility, poor eyesight, dementia, and all the rest.

    The ageless me inside is still doing somersaults through the sprinkler. My meat suit, whose commanding voice grows louder with every year, has other ideas. If you don’t get that, really get it, then you are unqualified to design for the aged.

    Finally, designing in Silicon Valley, where greyhairs like me are as rare as Trump supporters, is like designing for Eskimos in Florida. How many of the 50 people who work for you are over 65?

    That is the question.

    Brant Huddleston