Rotman School of Management

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Major in Business Design

The design of business

As the world of business continues to evolve and accelerate, managers need more than just analytic skills to tackle the most complex challenges. Business Design is a creative problem-solving methodology that draws on the designer’s way of thinking and applies it to create business value – from innovative new products and services to creative strategies and models.

Business design is Rotman’s innovation methodology for creating competitive advantage. Drawing upon design principles and practices, Rotman students gain the tools they need to drive innovation in products and services, and discover new opportunities for growth and creativity.

The Business Design major is built around user-centric business design and three pillars that facilitate bringing a design from concept to reality in the marketplace. The three pillars that facilitate bringing the design to reality are i) empathy and user understanding, ii) lensing and problem-solving and iii) change management.

"At its core, creativity is all about figuring out what is meaningful to people."

-Bruce Nussbaum, author ofCreative Intelligence and former assistant managing editor forBusiness Week, in an article for Rotman Management Magazine

Requirements to complete the major

Students pursuing the major are required to take the Design Practicum and at least one course from each of the three pillars that form the foundation of the major:

User-Centred Business Design: How might we design solutions that delight customers and create competitive advantage?

  • Design Practicum (Mandatory)

Empathy and user understanding: How might we better understand our customers and what they really need?

  • Consumer Behaviour
  • Marketing Research
  • Deep Customer Insight: Qualitative Research
  • Marketing Behavioral Economics

Problem-solving: How might we reframe problems to design better answers?

  • Corporation 360
  • Opposable Mind
  • Innovation, Foresight and Business Design
  • Designing in a Whitewater World

Change management: How might we embed new ideas and ways of thinking and practice?

  • Strategic Change and Implementation
  • Leading Social Innovation
  • Marketing Strategy

Career paths

The topics covered in this major will be useful in helping students develop their business design and innovation skills. These can be applied to any innovation 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. Here are some ways to think about your future career in the innovation space:

Roles where you do business design everyday:
Design thinker, business designer, innovation catalyst

Roles where business design is a natural fit:
Consumer insights specialist, entrepreneur, product manager, marketing manager

Traditional roles where business design can enhance your performance:
Operations, sales, finance, strategy

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:

  • 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

Companies that have recruited at Rotman:

A selection of companies where Rotman MBA graduates have worked in recent years::

Flexible Internship Program

The Rotman Full-Time MBA Program provides a unique opportunity for students to integrate and apply management knowledge gained within the program through a 4-month internship. Students are required to complete the course “Applied Management: Placement” in conjunction with a work placement which may be done in the Summer, Fall or Winter terms. Depending on their academic area of concentration/major and career objectives, students will be guided on the best work term option to secure a placement with an employer. Throughout their work placement, students will benefit from enhanced communication with their host employers, tracking of project deliverables and feedback from faculty supervisors.

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:

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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.

Career directions
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