Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

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Major in Business Design

Designing the next generation of business leaders.

As the world of business continues to evolve and accelerate, managers need a strategic mindset and design toolset to tackle complex challenges, navigate uncertainty and manage change. The next generation of managers are leaders equipped to connect with users, make strategic decisions, and incentivize creativity and opportunities for innovation. These leaders are designed for the 21st century organization. Business Design is a way of thinking and working that applies human-centred design to improving or transforming business activities. It draws upon social science, design and strategy to create business value - from innovative new products, services and processes, to creative strategies and models. It involves developing a mindset to find, frame and ultimately solve business problems.

The Business Design major offers a diverse set of coursework to build competencies required for innovation-seeking firms. Business designers are corporate innovators -- they translate needs into insights, connect concepts across functional departments, and frame solutions into viable business innovations.

Business design is Rotman’s distinctive innovation methodology for finding, framing and solving business problems. Rotman students gain the knowledge, skills and tools needed to navigate, drive and manage the innovation process of new products, services and platforms, and discover new opportunities for growth, creativity and sustainability.

"Great leaders aspire to manage 'by design', with a sense of purpose and foresight. Lessons learned from the world of design, when applied to management, can turn leaders into collaborative, creative, deliberate, and accountable visionaries."

-Moura Quayle, author of Designed Leadership Columbia Business School Publishing.

About the Business Design Major

Students will learn how to find needs/define problems, frame and reframe problems, and solve real world business problems. The classroom experience combines lectures, studio/hands-on learning, online toolkits, and experiential live-case learning. Required courses provide foundational knowledge of the business innovation process and design methods to collect data, inform insights, and prototype ideas into innovations.

Requirements to Complete the Major

You must successfully complete two of the following core courses:

Core Courses

  • Business Design Practicum
  • Business Innovation and Design Study Tour
  • Design Research and Data Storytelling

It is also recommended that students in this major choose two other courses from the following selection:

  • Creativity and Business Innovation
  • Corporate Strategy
  • Strategic Change and Implementation
  • Designing for Equality
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Marketing Research
  • Design, Foresight and Innovation (not offered in 2019-2020)
  • Designing in a Whitewater World
  • Marketing and Behavioural Economics
  • Aligning People and Strategy
  • Leading Social Innovation
  • Strategic Networks

Upon successful completion of these courses, you will receive a letter of completion certifying your Rotman Business Design major.

Career Paths

The topics covered in this major are critical in helping students develop their business design and innovation skills. These can be applied to any innovation and business transformation related role that can benefit from a greater consumer / human understanding and the ability to create new growth opportunities in marketing, new product development, management, consulting and entrepreneurship.

 Business design roles are not found through the usual channels of career building and discovery – they have to be sought out or created. Roles for BD MBA majors span: service designer, customer experience manager, strategist, business analyst, innovation or new product manager, marketing manager, customer research manager, operations director, etc.

Companies that have recruited at Rotman:
A selection of companies where Rotman MBA graduates have worked in recent years::

Where can I get a job as a business designer?
Companies may offer specific roles as a business design specialist, however, you are more likely to find roles that incorporate aspects of the methodology in your day-to-day responsibilities. Some examples of jobs our grads have gone on to include:

  • Business designer, Openbox Innovation Agency, NYC
  • Customer experience designer, CIBC
  • Associate brand manager, Nike
  • Innovation catalyst, Fidelity Investments
  • Senior manager - Commercial Auto, TD Bank
  • Innovation project manager, The Hospital for Sick Children
  • Senior consultant, Monitor Deloitte

    The alumni perspective

    Each year our graduating students have gone on to work for top-tier innovative companies. Here’s what they have to say about business design at Rotman:



    Christine Wheatley MBA '13
    Business Design Consultant, Fidelity Investments




    Brian Moelich MBA '13
    Business Designer, Citrix


    Thought piece - Business Design

    Rotman Design Challenge

    Students come from around the world to tackle a real-world challenge

    Business Design Practicum MBA Course

    In this MBA course elective, students tackle real world innovation challenges.

    Explore other career directions
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