Shiz Kobara

Director of Client Relations

San Francisco

Shiz Kobara


Relationship builder helping startup and established companies envision their goals. Always thinking about the intersection of user experience, business goals, and manufacturing reality, my role is to integrate the various disciplines of design, engineering, and research to serve our clients.


I have over 35 years of experience as a design leader and educator. I served as Global Design director at Hewlett Packard, influencing the industrial design and user interface across all of HP’s product divisions. While at HP in my early days, I designed the visual 3-D look and feel of the OSF UNIX user interface still used around the world 30 years later on most workstations. After retiring from HP in 2007, I was recruited to teach graduate-level industrial design at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. I established user interaction design as an essential part of the design curriculum as well as taught sponsored design and UX courses for Samsung, Nissan, TeleNav, NASA, and Monster Audio, to name a few. I also served as UX group manager at Intuit, UX director at LUNAR, and business development director at Cosmo while teaching at the Academy. I have been a speaker on design strategies in Europe, Asia, and across the U.S. and a frequent speaker on design thinking to international students and business delegates.


I’m interested in all things technology — not just modern technology, but also industrial technology from the past 300 years to understand how we got to where we are. I have great interest in how things were made and how they worked in the past.


I not only love design but love DIY on my home and cars. In my free time, I love to work on my home — DIY as much as I can do including remodeling my kitchen, installing cabinets, appliances and walls all by myself. I love classic American muscle cars — buying, fixing up, and cruising in them. It’s the mechanical beauty that draws me to working on anything that moves. On weekends, I am usually covered in grease by day and dabbling on my guitar in the evenings.

First experience in design thinking

Well, ever since I had access to a screwdriver and hacksaw, I was modifying everything I owned from ruining, painting, and melting my Lionel train sets as a kid to change their shape, to cutting and changing my bicycle to resemble a chopper motorcycle with four-foot-long pipes out front for the forks. When I started driving at 16, I modified my first Datsun as much as I could to improve the handing and power. I was lucky that my parents (and neighbors) were very patient with the grinding noise coming from the garage at 1 a.m. on any Saturday night. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I guess I always thought things could be improved or at least mangled by my imagination.

Shiz Kobara
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