Designing Minds: Lisa Hsiao ’91


A director of strategy at Gensler, one of the world’s largest design firms, Hsiao describes herself as “a process geek who loves working in the fuzzy boundaries between user experience, the digital, and the physical environments.” Based out of the firm’s San Francisco headquarters since 2008, she helps global and Fortune 500 clients in business, technology, and education assess and analyze their design needs, and then works closely with architects and others to develop strategies and solutions. “My sweet spot is leading clients to new ideas,” says Hsiao, whose work has won numerous awards, “and orchestrating the teams so that strategy becomes reality.”

Education: B.A. (Architecture), Wellesley College; M.Arch., Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Examples of her work: As the director of strategy, Hsiao performs the analysis that informs the design of a space. She serves as the global consulting lead for Accenture, Gensler’s ninth-largest account, and has worked with Nokia, Symantec, Google, Department of Homeland Security, Stanford School of Engineering, and Hyatt Hotels, among numerous other clients.

Favorite places on campus: “Scott Hall. It was an interdisciplinary stew of space where science, theater, and art were all mixed together. It was a really great space for me to understand how these influences could come together. It also served as the pristine architectural brick backdrop to the lion statue. That was a visual I remember, and it was pretty special. The pond was also important to me. It was iconic, and full of those petri dish experiments (thanks to Doc Gow), but it was also where you would transition from classes to sports practice, across the bridge, which was always a nice moment.”

In her own words: “We took a spring break trip to Italy with Marcia Reed, and I must have taken 10 rolls of film. And when I brought them home and developed them my mom noted that I only took pictures of buildings.”

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