Volunteer of the Month for April 2022

The RGD thanks Ian Chalmers RGD, Founder and Design Director, Pivot Design Group, for his contributions to the RGD community.


"Ian is an all-star. He always has the best advice and is always the first one to raise his hand to take on more tasks. He is a champion of our RGD community, lifting others up through his work with mentorship, new Member orientations and the firm owners virtual community." 

   - Elyse Maxwell RGD, Chair & VP, Membership Committee


How long have you been volunteering with the RGD and in what capacity?

I've been a Certified RGD since 2009. I started volunteering in 2010. As a volunteer I’ve had the benefit of a number of mentoring opportunities, supporting portfolio reviews, volunteering and speaking at DesignThinkers and I'm involved with the Membership Committee sub-committee where we host a semi-monthly ‘Welcome Wagon’ virtual event, another initiative is looking at new ways to curate our existing web content for Members. One of my favourite initiatives has been helping to run the Firm owners' Virtual Community. This was during the COVID-19 lockdown and very much needed. All very rewarding work.


What contribution are you most proud of? What experience/memory stands out for you?

I really enjoyed my mentoring experience, working with newly-minted Member designers to help improve their confidence, organization and preparedness and emphasizing the importance of career patience. It's definitely a learning experience for both the mentee and the mentor. I greatly value the community discovered through the firm owner meet-up group — it has been cathartic. I am grateful to the RGD for making this happen.


What is the most surprising/unexpected thing to come out of volunteering with the RGD?

Some important learnings came from mentoring the younger designers who were at the beginning of their careers and trying to figure everything out. When meeting with the firm owner group, I also was surprised at how similar our experiences are and how much we can learn and help one another through dialogue.


What have you learned about the industry since volunteering for the RGD?

We have a great deal more to gain by being together rather than apart.


Based on your experience volunteering with the RGD, how would you describe the role of the organization in the industry?

The first thing, you need your community. And your community needs you. The RGD is all about strengthening our professional practice, educating our industry and representing and speaking up for the Membership. Supporting some of our core values; diversity, equity and inclusivity. And challenging certain assumptions made by the government, business community and organizations around the issue of professional design practice in Canada.


What have you gained from being an RGD volunteer and why would you recommend it to other members who might be thinking of getting involved?

I've gained a better appreciation of my peers, the next generation of designers, our design community at large and how design fits in our Canadian landscape.


Do you have thoughts on what you might like to do as a volunteer with the RGD in the future?

I will be stepping down from the Board this year to pursue other areas of interest. That said, I’ll continue to volunteer and stay connected to the RGD community. The organization is growing and improving with every new Member who joins us!


Ian Chalmers RGD is the Founder and Design Director of Pivot Design Group. He is also the founder of DesignMeets, an industry forum for multidisciplinary professionals to share ideas and explore ways for creating meaningful design solutions for everyday life. With more than 25 years of experience in the fields of design and design research, Ian is an acknowledged leader and provider of creative design solutions for Canada’s public and private sectors and the academic community.