The third lecture of the 2020 Roy S. Pung Executive Speaker Series featured John Roescher, cofounder and CEO of Handsome, a holistic experience design agency based in Austin, Texas, discussing human-centered business and decision making with examples from his experience.
“I think that every decision in business should initiate with the question, ‘What about humans?’” Roescher said.
Founded nine years ago, Handsome has launched over 220 projects and has served over 150 clients. Before starting the company, Roescher served in the Marine Corps and worked as a freelance consultant. “I had a love for beauty, art and craft. It is the beauty of elegance and the difficulty of craft to achieve an outcome,” he said.
In his virtual presentation, Roescher highlighted the importance of experimentation in business. For him, many companies focus too much on getting things right the first time when, in reality, failing is progress too. “Make being good at experimentation a competitive advantage,” he said.
Handsome works with high-profile clients, such as Facebook, to eliminate big issues facing the country. “One of the several paths that we wanted to take was to solve the systemic preventative health problem in the United States,” Roescher said.
When asked about what sets Handsome apart from other similar agencies, Roescher’s response was simple: “Business can be human, and business should be human.”
Handsome views humans as crucial to the product development cycle, but in a way that makes them the central decision maker. Take Facebook, for example. The company has a large platform and database that can be used to influence areas of people’s lives, outside of tagging friends in funny videos. This is where Handsome came in as an asset to achieve the social media giant’s goal of positively impacting people’s health.
“We created a product that had Facebook telling you information about preventative health measures and different diseases,” Roescher said. They partnered with highly trusted clinics across the country to help make Facebook a credible source for health information.
Alongside Roescher was Sanjay Baskaran (MBA ’99), a current Broad College board member, client of Handsome and past Pung speaker. Last year, Baskaran connected Handsome’s expertise to the Broad Full-Time MBA program for a hands-on experience. Students and faculty ventured to Handsome’s headquarters to attend a four-day crash course on human-centered business, which gave students real experience in the future of holistic design.
“When my wife and I had committed to working with MSU on digital product management, we couldn’t think of a better choice of individual company to bring experiential learning to life,” Baskaran said.
Roescher added, “It was really great to see MSU Spartans get it right in a short amount of time.”
In addition, Sanjay Gupta, Eli and Edythe L. Broad Dean, and Richard Saouma, associate dean for MBA, EMBA and professional master’s programs, attended the presentation and praised Roescher’s work and Baskaran’s generosity, which has had a positive impact on the learning experience for many Broad Spartans.
More information on upcoming events in the 2020–2021 Pung Speaker Series, as well as information on past events, is available on the Full-Time MBA webpage.