About Me


You're here because you're curious to know who I am and what I do. To know more about me.

I self identify as a global nomad, defined by the late Norma McCaig as "children who by virtue of their parent's profession, spent a significant amount of their developmental years, outside of their passport country". This is a very specific choice of words, as we global nomads tend to have more in common with each other, growing up as we do, dancing between cultures, than with our peers in our designated homelands.

I started my global journey at the age of 4, growing up in the expat bubble in the ASEAN tiger economies, where I completed my O Levels in the Pure Sciences at the British School, followed by an American high school diploma from the International School of Kuala Lumpur. Then I went to study engineering in Bangalore, followed by a stint at the National Institute of Design as the only woman in my graduate Product Design program. In the year 2000, I decided to undertake the intensive 11 month fulltime MBA at Katz GSB, University of Pittsburgh where I majored in Strategy with a minor in Marketing/Product Development.

I lived and worked on three continents - Singapore and New Delhi, Chennai and Pittsburgh, Chicago, San Francisco, Helsinki, Nairobi and The Netherlands...wait, that's four continents ;p I've worked for companies you have heard of - Hewlett Packard and McCann Erickson, The Second City of Chicago; and for design studios and startups you won't recognize. Somewhere in there is the Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology where I was Director of Graduate Admissions, responsible for all things students, and Aalto University in Finland, where I found a home in the Design Factory.

I started something I call the Emerging Futures Lab (EFL) back in late 2007, as a way to capture the imminent changes I could see happening across the African continent, particularly with the advent of the mobile phone.  Depending on the project at hand, EFL has had employees, partners, sub contractors, a wide and varied team, or, as the case maybe, sometimes its just me.

I apply methods from Human Centered Design to explore and understand the uncertain and unknown. Drawing upon my experience, and the basics of design planning, I synthesize vast amounts of disparate data in order to identify immediately actionable insights that inform your consumer facing market strategy including conceptual direction and design of products, services and business models.

My work is best described by the diagram here. And below is the formal bio I tend to use.

Welcome to our collective emerging future.

Niti Bhan integrates her multidisciplinary background in business, design and engineering with a global perspective to offer immediately actionable insights and strategic directions for successfully entering emerging economies and frontier markets in Africa, Asia and the EU. Full LinkedIn profile with references.

6th annual WIPO conference, Warsaw Stock Exchange, March 21st 2013

With Prof. John Keith Hart at the Informal Economy Symposium, Barcelona October 2012

© UNESCO/Gulser Corat -  Closing Plenary Townhall at the Women's Forum for the Economy and Society Global Meeting 2010, in Deauville, France on 16 October 2010. From L to R: Ms Niti Bhan, founder and owner of Emerging Futures Lab, Ms Orit Gadiesh, Chair, Bain & Co, Ms Irina Bokova, Secretary General, UNESCO and Ms Alison Smale, Executive Editor, International Herald Tribune.

Nordic Delegation, representing Finland at Women's Forum for the Economy and Society 
Global Meeting 2010

Invited inspiration at Better World by Design October 2009, RISD

With Erik Hersman and Ken Banks at Better World by Design October 2008, Brown University

Closing Plenary at the CHI 2007 conference, San Jose
Confederation of Indian Industry/National Institute of Design Summit 2006

The Atlantic September 2011 Launch of inaugural issue of Makeshift Magazine "RECULTURE"

IDSA Design Bytes newsletters July 2010, November 2010, November 2010
PC World November 2008  Mobile Finance: Indigenous, Ingenious or Both?
US News & World Report January 2008 Innovate or Else! 6 Thinkers Ideas
ICSID November 2007  Design 21 Advisory Board Members announced
BusinessWeek February 2007 India's Designs on Innovation