Digital 40 Over 40 2017: Donald Chesnut, Global Chief Experience Officer, SapientRazorfish

Liz ValentineDonald Chesnut
Global Chief Experience Officer, SapientRazorfish

For Donald Chesnut, people are the sum of their parts—and more. As chief experience officer at SapientRazorfish, Chesnut is less concerned with how technology can reach people than how it can actually improve their lives. With more than 20 years of designing brand experiences across a host of touchpoints for a host of blue-chip brands, Chesnut has boiled his philosophy down to two words: "People First."

Though a technologist by trade, Chesnut believes true innovation comes from how that technology affects human behavior. Whether it’s working with artists to put content on a 9-story, 23 million pixel, ultra-HD display in Times Square for Vornado, or creating an Apple Watch app to provide up-to-date flight information for harried travelers for Lufthansa, it all comes back to creating something consumers have never experienced before.

At SapientRazorfish, Chesnut puts the "people first" concept into practice by encouraging the agency to seek out diverse perspectives. He’s an executive sponsor and founder of the agency’s "Potential Realized in Diverse Experience" program, which promotes workplace diversity, as well as its "Career Returns" program, which encourages hiring managers to consider both work and life experience, understanding that time-off from a job isn’t time-off from life. 

An early gradate of NYU’s pioneering Interactive Telecommunications Master’s Program, which focused on the convergence of media, technology, art and commerce, Chesnut literally wrote the book on the convergence of innovation, design and customer experience ("UX for Dummies"). In a world that never stops innovating, he’s now exploring how virtual reality and artificial intelligence are fitting into that bigger picture. 

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