Utley worked at a consulting firm before going to Stanford for his MBA. While in business school, he took some design courses that changed his outlook on life. "It's given me a sense of permission and emotional freedom," he says.
He took a class on entrepreneurial design and extreme affordability, for example, which helps students learn about alleviating extreme poverty with product and service innovation.
After graduating he returned to his job, but was soon called back to Stanford to do a teaching fellowship in the design school and continued to teach there once the fellowship ended.
"Being at d.school actually helped me realize that what I really love is teaching and helping people see themselves in new ways," he says.
At MIT, students can take a design course while in business school or pursue a master's degree in system design and management, which is offered through the school's engineering and business schools. The joint program caters to engineers and often helps graduates become product managers or chief engineers in a company, says Steven D. Eppinger, a professor of management and innovation at MIT.
"They don't get the whole MBA," says Eppinger. "Instead they get some business education and some engineering education."
[Learn how female MBA candidates can thrive.]
He says there are a few skills designers have that MBAs can use. One skill is finding many solutions for a single problem, something most people don't do, he says.
People often think of a single answer and then proceed with it, but "the first solution you think of isn't likely to be a very good one," he says.
In the product design and development course he teaches with other professors, the class Markle took, Eppinger covers understanding problems by talking to customers, prototyping and other topics.
MBAs with a design background can have a range of job opportunities, says Kevin Frick, the vice dean of education at the Carey Business School.
"I don't see it as something that necessarily limits students to a particular track on the business school side," he says. "Many of the students see it simply as a different way of differentiating themselves from the competition."
Searching for a business school? Get our complete rankings of Best Business Schools.