CEOs of Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment and Wealthsimple named DesignThinkers of the Year for 2018

RGD announces Michael Friisdahl, President & CEO of MLSE and Michael Katchen, Co-Founder at CEO of Wealthsimple as DesignThinkers of the Year for Eastern Canada in 2018.


The DesignThinker of the Year award is awarded to Canadian corporate leaders who have incorporated design thinking into their organizations to achieve business objectives and drive innovation.


"We are thrilled to recognize leaders from two more companies this year that display purposeful investments in design," says Wendy Millard, RGD's President. "Wealthsimple's dedication to putting humanity into their branding strategies and MLSE's customer-centric design approach to thoughtful campaigns demonstrate their ongoing commitment to design thinking and an appreciation for the value of design in business."


Michael Katchen, Co-Founder at CEO of Wealthsimple


Michael Katchen's nominator explains, "When building Wealthsimple, Michael Katchen and his co-founding team believed and invested in the idea of building a human-focused brand in financial services. Being human meant building a brand that people could relate to and understand, even if they didn't know a lot - or anything - about investing. Design thinking became a way of helping create a brand that people could love and a product that they could easily use."



"Katchen's personal philosophy is that innovation is a process, not a product, which has influenced the way Wealthsimple thinks about design and how it relates to the people who use our services. The design team is constantly experimenting, reiterating and testing ways to make our clients' experience as smooth, simple and intuitive as possible."



Michael Friisdahl, President & CEO of MLSE


MLSE is one of North America’s leading providers of exceptional experiences. Their desire to create winning teams – and deliver championships to its city and its fans – has driven MLSE to strive to continually grow, develop world-class venues and be at the forefront of innovative ways to bring fans to their feet.  


"We think of every single element of design as it impacts our fans," explains Michael Friisdahl. "We take a customer-centric approach, so we try to think of the customer journey at every part and touchpoint and gives us an opportunity to impact and influence that conversation"



MLSE's design team also won two Awards of Merit in RGD's 2016 In-House Design Awards for their outstanding work on the Toronto FC Pop-Up Shop and the Toronto Raptors In-Arena Presentation.


"From the design of our ticket packages to the basketball court, it was really thoughtful design and really important in the execution of the campaign."


The Awards will be presented at a Ceremony on October 24 as part of the 2018 DesignThinkers Toronto Conference at the Sony Centre, in the presence of 2,000+ professionals and students from the creative industry attending the event.