After studying art history, Chelsea Omel (MBA ’15) decided to attend Rotman for her graduate schooling. With her background in the arts, it is perhaps appropriate that Chelsea came to specialize in Business DesignTM, eventually finding a position with one of Canada’s largest companies. We recently met with Chelsea at the Rotman Design Challenge, where we asked about her background and the aspects of Business Design that she finds compelling.
Chelsea Omel, MBA '15
What made you want to be involved with the Rotman Design Challenge?
“I’m a Rotman alumna myself. When I came here, I was really focused on design. I spent a lot of time with DesignWorks, I was a participant in the challenge when I was a student, and I was part of the BDC executive. So it’s something that had always been on my radar, and it’s always been a very fun weekend. Once I joined TELUS and started to work with the service design team (which is the design function within TELUS), we were in a position to think about sponsoring, and it seemed like a chance to strike while the iron is hot.”
How does your current position intersect with the business design community here at Rotman?
We are a fast-evolving team and we’re also growing, so there’s a couple of reasons why this was a really good fit, in terms of an event. We are trying to build our profile as a team within the broader design community. When people think about getting into Business Design, TELUS isn’t necessarily top of mind, but we see this as an opportunity to start planting those seeds amongst the students at Rotman, but also in a broader context, particularly with the international nature of the competition.
How does your Service Design & Strategy team function?
We work kind of like an internal consulting group, partnering with other teams across TELUS to deliver on specific projects and initiatives We have been working on an initiative with our People & Culture team, so we saw this as an opportunity to bring in those business partners and give them a design experience, some exposure to business design and this community
As an alumna, what is your perspective on the work being done here at Rotman?
I love coming back to design events at Rotman—I get to see a bunch of my favorite people, professors who were influential. It’s exciting from an energetic perspective—it’s exciting to see all these students come together, and more and more teams applying each year. I’ve seen it evolve. We’re seeing teams from schools that don’t have design programs, but they’re still thinking about business design. So it’s cool to see this sort of thinking percolate. As a practitioner in the field, the profile of this type of work and this kind of function is increasing, and this competition is a bit of a barometer for that.
The challenge of the competition this year was all about human resources: attraction and retention of top talent. Can you tell us more about why that particular issue was of interest to you?
The nature of the challenges that have historically been put forward is generally quite broad. As large organizations in mature industries, how do we continue to engage this workforce? There’s a lot to unpack in that question. I know that we are not unique in this—you can name other service-based industries that are in this position, even if they’re not telecomm. So that’s something that continues to draw people.. And with the judges who come in from other businesses, it’s interesting to see those other perspectives. What we take away is great inspiration and insight from the solutions that are proposed.
What value do you see in interacting with current Rotman students?
We have students working with us now on an independent study project, and we are able to give them guidance along the way. You get these fresh minds that are unencumbered by the biases of the business, in the best case. They’re bringing a different perspective, different demographics than the rest of the business, and there are definitely interesting opportunities for more of that.
In your world of Business Design, how do you measure success?
The reality of the business environment is that you need to be measurable. Our team does a lot of work that is very qualitative. There are lots of ways to get at the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of doing something, but understanding why a user is taking an action is really helpful to being able to design solutions that are feasible, viable and desirable. But that can be hard to get at that with strictly quantitative methods. So if we get an insight that gives us a whole new framing for a problem, and we prototype [an idea], the next question is ‘how do we know this is working’? We do strive to find ways to measure our impact in terms of metrics, but we also look at the individuals and the teams that we work with and how their approach to problem-solving shifts or changes as a result of participating in the design process.