My Career Path: How I Became a Business Development Lead

A series on the unique career journeys of the IDEO community.

Emily D’Arco
Business Development Lead, IDEO


This is part of a series on the unique and circuitous career journeys of the IDEO community. Read more articles on career development and mentorship on the IDEO U blog.


What’s your role at IDEO?

I work as a Lead on IDEO’s Business Development team. I’m specifically focused on fielding incoming opportunities that help potential clients design more human-centered financial systems.

When clients come to IDEO with design and innovation challenges, I shepherd the process of collaborating with them to understand how we can help them and if we’re compatible partners. From there, I plan what the scope of the work would look like and ultimately help transition the relationship from the Business Development team to the Design team, who will tackle the client challenge.


“My biggest career advice is to maintain a log of the feedback you receive and of your accomplishments and learn-from-failure moments.”
Emily D’Arco


How would you describe your career path?

I'm currently based in San Francisco. I went to Georgetown University for college and majored in Justice and Peace Studies and minored in Business and French. My favorite part about living in DC was how profound everything felt—the Lincoln Memorial was a regular stop on my runs and I never got used to it!

After graduation, I moved to NYC and worked for a little over 3 years at a digital marketing agency called Kepler, another kyu company, before coming to IDEO. I did a lot of client relationship management, digital marketing strategy, data-driven storytelling, and project management across a number of different industries, but the highlight of my time there was probably working with The New York Times on executing their The Truth is Worth It brand campaign.

Emily standing by a river.


What career advice would you give others?

While I’m still fairly early on in my career, my biggest career advice is to maintain a log of the feedback you receive and of your accomplishments and learn-from-failure moments.

As I’ve advanced in my career, having a repository like this to refer back to has painted a much clearer picture of where my strengths and opportunities lie which, in turn, has helped to inform my career trajectory. It’s also so easy to forget the things you’ve worked on, so having a tangible record of the progress you’ve made facilitates opportunities to reset during challenging times and to guide reflective moments.

Emily standing in front of flowers.


Learn about IDEO’s approach to business design in our online course Designing a Business.

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Business Innovation - IDEO U Certificate
Human-Centered Strategy Certificate