Keynote

Jack Morgan

Product Design Lead
Duolingo

Jack Morgan is a British designer based in the United States, with a focus on solving large scale problems. Formerly the Design Lead for Google’s education division, he designed the Google Academy London – a purpose-built facility on Buckingham Palace Road dedicated to helping people improve their tech skills. Recently, he produced an Oscar-qualifying documentary about Syrian refugees watched by over 1 million people and endorsed by the United Nations, and is currently designing an adaptive AI Testing platform that helps thousands of foreign students get a college education.

 

Get to know Jack Morgan

Tell us about a project or accomplishments from the past 10 years that had a major impact on your life or career.
I produced, art directed and designed an Oscar qualifying documentary called Something Like Home, which explores the impact of language and free education on the lives of four refugees. I’m a designer, not a filmmaker, so I asked my team to film everything for posterity, but I kept my plan to turn the footage from our journey into a documentary a secret from them until later — because I wanted the audience to feel like they were really in the room with us, not like they were watching a movie. The film has since been endorsed by the United Nations, played at festivals around the world and been watched by more than 1 million people.

What is your favorite color, and why? Pantone numbers and Hex codes totally allowed.
Nothing gets the heart going like #ee0000.

What keeps you going when you’re focused on a project? Is there a particular saying or song that gets you moving?
We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our discipline.

What’s your superpower, or one you wish you had?
Obsessiveness with a healthy dash of ADD — anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

What design or career advice would you give to your younger self?
Sleep more.

If you were given the opportunity to see into the future, what would you want to know?
What happens during the next Industrial Revolution. What does life look like beyond what you can imagine life looking like?

How do you think design impacts your everyday life? The community?
Big wins can be undermined by tiny mistakes. Air travel is a big win for everyone, but the experience is fraught with tiny mistakes for almost everyone. The same goes is true when designing anything – cities, garments, gadgets, societies – and the bigger the win is, the harder it is to correct those tiny mistakes.

If you hadn’t ended up in the career you are in, what do you think you’d be doing?
Probably something reckless like Biathlons (the combination of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting) or chess boxing (Google it).