Alumni Spotlight: Lauren Olaya ’10

Lauren Olaya headshot

Lauren Olaya has been with the Coca-Cola Company for over 12 years, rising through the ranks from industrial designer to design manager and then senior design manager. Two and a half years ago, she was named Coca-Cola’s Senior Manager of End-to-End Experience Design. She studied industrial design in Auburn’s School of Industrial and Graphic Design (SIGD) and graduated in 2010.

In her current role, she is responsible for developing project tools and processes that influence how design managers operate in-house as well as creating design strategies and briefs and managing agencies for the projects themselves. Her team creates ownable brand ecosystems guided by strong design principles executing touchpoints that include logos, typeface, key visuals, influencer kits, photography style, social media content, pop up environments and more.

Lauren Olaya smartwater

Olaya recently led the newly refreshed Global Identity System for Smartwater. She says that working with so many aspects of design keeps her on her toes throughout her busy days. “My job has evolved over the last 12 years, from merchandising design to beverage dispensers, structural packaging and brand identities,” she explained. “It is a broad spectrum of consumer touchpoints that keeps things interesting. In my day-to-day work, experience design is basically designing anything that a consumer might interact with. Every day is different!”

Olaya likes to think of industrial design not so much as “people who design things” but as more of a mindset. The design team she works with includes a mixture of talent ranging from Graphic Design Managers to Multidisciplinary Design Managers, many of whom have industrial design backgrounds. The project teams she works with consist of Print Managers, Engineers, Marketers, Project Managers and Researchers. “We all put our heads together to push the work forward and keep a consumer-driven approach,” she stated. She says that one of the strengths of Auburn’s Industrial Design program is its emphasis on problem solving and empathizing with the needs of end users. “When you’re focused on solving opportunities for people, it eliminates a lot of opinions and swirl,” she stated. “The Industrial Design Methods class helped me the most in staying on track with tight project timelines and process.”

Olaya advises current students to gain a wide range of skills and experiences while in school so they can become better team members when they begin their work in industry. “Learn how to talk design to non-designers. Look for internships. Do the study abroad. Take a business class or two. Communication skills are just as powerful and important as your rendering and sketching skills. Always be curious and ask questions!”