Michael believes that building genuine connections with people is the heart of successful research. With over 15 years’ experience social work, design, experiential marketing and communications, Michael believes in a multidisciplinary approach to solving challenges, where all the voices are heard and considered throughout the design process.
Michael has worked on successful behaviour change communication and experiential marketing campaigns for Africa’s most dynamic markets such as Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, DRC, Zambia, Tanzania and Uganda.
In his previous capacity as Creative Director in a pan-African marketing agency, Michael led creative processes to develop successful campaigns for some of the continent’s top brands such as Diageo, Nestle, Safaricom, Visa, MTN and Tigo.
Michael attributes his track record for successful creative concept development to innovative research methods that generate unique insights. He has pushed the boundaries of ethnographic research by opting to embed himself in the environment of the people he designs for to build empathy and learn from them. This has seen him live for extended periods in remote and informal settlements, becoming part of the community and building long-lasting relationships that uncover latent needs, wants and behaviours that would have otherwise been missed.
Mr. Ngigi has extensive experience conducting immersive, ethnographic research with vulnerable groups to improve acceptance and access to services, products and rights that improve their lives. Most recently, Mr. Ngigi spent four months in hard to reach areas in rural Tanzania conducting ethnographic research and co-designing with adolescent girls in a project aimed at increasing acceptance and uptake of family planning in the rural-coastal strip.
Michael also leads the internal project technical support component for Thinkplace projects in Africa. His role is to provide support and build capacity of our teams in field to deliver quality outputs as per Thinkplace methodology and expected project outcomes. As technical lead Michael is constantly on call to address any technical queries that the teams may raise as they execute a project in any part of the world.
Michael also develops interactive qualitative research tools both as a hobby and also as part of his role at Thinkplace. One such tool he developed was Thinkcards (thinkcards.org) which are meant to help in breaking down communication barriers between researchers and research participants. These have also proved to be valuable in breaking the ice during facilitation and as such they have been translated into Somali, Swahili, French, Mandarin and Portuguese.
Mr. Ngigi currently serves as a technical advisor (Youth SRHR) on the Board of Advisors to the HCD Global Health Forum facilitated by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and U.S. Agency for International Development, and aimed at bringing together donors, implementers, and innovators to explore the linkages between Human-Centered Design and Sexual and Reproductive Health. Mr. Ngigi has contributed to the development of an exchange platform (www.designforhealth.org) which aims to support global health practitioners who are trying to better understand how to engage design in their work.