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Zaana Howard

Senior Expert, Melbourne
Leads customer experience, design, and capability building, delivering strategies for health, public, and social services

About Zaana

With over 15 years of experience working in both consultancies and in-house within innovation and design, Zaana is a recognized leader in human-centered design, organizational capability building, and ethnographic research. She brings together customer, employee experience, and service operations to deliver differentiated experiences and improved outcomes for people.

Since joining McKinsey in 2017, Zaana has developed a track record for driving customer-centric strategies and services for government, health, and social services organizations across the Asia Pacific region. She currently leads McKinsey Design for the Australia and New Zealand offices.

Zaana’s recent work focuses on using human-centered design to drive customer experience and business operations transformations, improve organizational culture, and design new futures. Some examples include the following:

  • leading the design of a world-class, digital-first patient experience strategy including informing built environment, digital enablers, and operating model for a new hospital in Southeast Asia
  • leading the customer experience design for a new digital health and wellness ecosystem in Southeast Asia
  • leading the development of multiple customer-centric design and strategies for government agencies across Asia Pacific to improve the delivery of government services and citizen outcomes
  • leading the future-state customer experience for a first-in-country, digital pure-play life insurance product and service in Southeast Asia, from customer research to implementation

Prior to joining McKinsey, Zaana worked in consultancies and internal design teams as a design leader delivering customer-centric transformations, built organizational design capabilities across private and public sector organizations, and built a leading human-centered design academy.

Outside work, Zaana is active within the design community. She regularly presents at industry and academic conferences and events, is an industry advisor at Swinburne University, and a peer reviewer for several academic design publications. Zaana recently contributed to McKinsey's 'The New Possible' insights as part of the core leadership team for this work.


From dinner to dining: the evolving role of the designer”, LeanUXNYC2014, 2014


Automation in government: Harnessing technology to transform customer experience,” McKinsey & Company, September 2020

Transforming health care using human centred design,” HealthDirect, May 2019

Preventative care to cure health spend woes,” The Mandarin, April 2019

Exploring the role of mindset in design thinking: Implications for capability development and practice,” Journal of Design, Business & Society (Vol. 1, Issue 2), October 2015


Manager, design capability strategy

Huddle Design
Huddle Academy lead

Queensland University of Technology

Swinburne University of Technology


Swinburne University
PhD, doctor of philosophy, design

Monash University
Master’s, information management and systems, information and knowledge management

Monash University
Bachelor of Fine Arts, painting