Irene McAra-McWilliam is Head of the School of Design and Director of Design Innovation at The Glasgow School of Art.
Before starting in Glasgow in September 2005, she was Professor and Business Fellow in Innovation at The Royal College of Art in London and Head of the Interaction Design Department. As Professor of Design Research at the University of Technology in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, she examined ways in which technology can enhance community and social sustainability.
She was Director of Design Research at Philips Electronics in the Netherlands and was responsible for the vision and direction of Philips global Design Research portfolio in areas such as ambient intelligence, interaction design, brand design, and user experience and set up design teams in Philips Research Laboratories world-wide to contribute to the company's long term technology research and innovation strategy. As Philips representative for the European Commission's visionary research activities, she created and coordinated the EC research theme Connected Community, and directed the award-winning project Living Memory.
Professor McAra-McWilliam is a frequent speaker at international conferences and is a consultant to industry and government. She has been voted one of fifty top design leaders by the UK's Design Week magazine and is an expert in design innovation and digital culture.
Professor Irene McAra-McWilliam was awarded an OBE in the 2016 Queen’s New Year’s Honours, in recognition of her work in Higher Education, Innovation and Design. The award recognised the wide impact of her work at The Glasgow School of Art over many years, notably her leadership of the School of Design, the Institute for Design Innovation and the Creative Campus developments in the Highlands and Islands.