Virtual Design + Business Conference

Saturday March 12 - Sunday March 13, 2022

Creative people

Meaningful connections

Innovative ideas

The best design party around. BLEND is an interactive two day conversation, highlighting how the power of design has become the secret advantage to business success.

Surrounded by creative, passionate people and with the best tools and approaches at your disposal, you’ll have what it takes to lead change and create better business outcomes with design.

Sponsored by

Manulife LogoUniversity of Waterloo Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business Logo

"the perfect mix of theoretical
and practical knowledge that
I could apply to my work"

- BLEND attendee

2022 speakers

BLEND brings experts in UX research, product design, creative strategy, and much more. This year's incredible lineup will excite and inspire all to have a whole new appreciation and understanding of what it means to design for all.

Robert Barlow-Busch headshot

Robert
Barlow-Busch

UX Design Lead
Google
(he/him)

ROBERT BARLOW-BUSCH (he/him)

Robert leads a team of UX designers, writers, and engineers on Stadia, Google's cloud gaming platform. Prior to Google, he held UX leadership positions at both product companies and agencies in Waterloo region. He has been a long-time supporter of the local UX community through efforts such as co-founding UX Waterloo and the Fluxible conference.
@becubed on Twitter

Kaitlyn Barnett headshot

Kaitlyn
Barnett

University Programs Specialist
Google
(she/her)

KAITLYN BARNETT (she/her)

Kaitlyn is a University Programs Specialist at Google Waterloo. Working on the Campus Outreach team, she manages outreach with schools across Canada and is responsible for building a demographically representative pipeline for Google's student internships and entry-level roles. She studied at the University of Waterloo in Kinesiology and Human Resources Management. Outside of work she enjoys walking her dog and golfing.  

Crystal Chin Headshot

Crystal
Chin

Interaction Designer
RBC
(she/her)

CRYSTAL CHIN (she/her)

Crystal is an Interaction Designer at RBC, where she works on building bridges between users and systems. From tech startups to enterprise businesses, Crystal enjoys working with her partners across disciplines and functions to build kinder, more thoughtful products. This is her first speaking gig, and she's excited to be a part of blend 2022.

Chase Denomme headshot

Chase
Denomme

blend host
Design Lead
Disco
(he/him)

Bio coming soon!

Marim Ganaba headshot

Marim
Ganaba

UX Designer
Google
(she/her)

MARIM GANABA (she/her)

Marim is a UX designer at Google Waterloo where she focuses on simplifying complex concepts & tasks in the Cloud space. Prior to Google, she has worked on a number of projects creating mobile app experiences for consumers. Marim is an alumni of the University of Waterloo MDEI program. When not working, she spends her time creating 2D animations, playing retro video games or doing metalsmithing. 

Markus Grupp headshot

Markus
Grupp

blend host
Senior Director, Design
Kira Systems
(he/him)

Bio coming soon!

Jennie Heo headshot

Jennie
Heo

UX Researcher
Google
(she/her)

JENNIE HEO (she/her)

Jennie is a UX Researcher for Google Cloud, working in Toronto. She has degrees in English Literature, Applied Psychology & Human Development, and Digital Innovation. At Google Cloud, she works with enterprise cloud customers to deliver insights on user behaviours and emotions.  Jennie is passionate about storytelling and believes that stories operate as a bridge to help people connect on a deeper level.  

Paul Jurkovic headshot

Paul
jurkovic

Creative Director & Strategist
TWG/Deloitte
(he/him)

PAUL JURKOVIC (he/him)

For almost 20 years, Paul has been a leader and practitioner of human-centred design and design thinking methods for product teams and clients across a wide range of industries. As Creative Director and Strategist at TWG/Deloitte, Paul plays a key role in shaping the direction for the design craft, including leading Ethical Design and Inclusive Design initiatives within TWG. soon!

Ben Kim headshot

Ben
Kim

Sr. Consultant
CIBC
(he/him)

BEN KIM (he/him)

Ben is currently a Sr. Consultant at CIBC on the Enterprise Authentication program, creating secure and frictionless customer interactions.  Previously, Ben was a Manager of Service Design and Strategy at TELUS, where he lead a team that developed great end-to-end journeys for its customers.  Ben also has a lean six sigma background and previously as a product manager, he was responsible for launching several industry leading customer programs.

Julie McClement Headshot

Julie
McClement

Senior Product Designer
Code for Canada
(she/her)

JULIE McCLEMENT (she/her)

Julie is a Senior UX Designer at Code for Canada. She also volunteers in the civic tech community, working on initiatives for the Ontario Coallition of Rape Crisis Centres and The Inclusive Safety Project.

Vedant Patel headshot

Vedant
Patel

GBDA Student
University of Waterloo
(he/him)

Bio coming soon!

Jenn Pretti headshot

Jenn
Pretti

UX Lead
Google
(she/her)

Bio coming soon!

Kelly Riback-Small headshot

Kelly
Riback-Small

Chief Creative Officer
Intents & Purposes Inc.
(they/them)

KELLY RIBACK-SMALL (they/them)

With nearly 20 years of leading major brands to proven success, Kelly’s driving philosophy is that purposeful work can happen anywhere. A Master of Design graduate and affiliated design researcher with Emily Carr University, Kelly is also a professor of design ethics at the George Brown School of Design and mentor with The RGD, The One Club for Creativity, and OCAD University. Kelly is currently writing a book about practical ethics for a youth audience to be published by Groundwood Books in 2023.

Richmond Sedcole Headshot

Richmond
Sedcole

AVP, Human Centered Design
Manulife
(he/him)

Bio coming soon!

Katherine Serwin headshot

Katherine
Serwin

Director, Behavioural Economics
Sun Life
(she/her)

KATHERINE SERWIN (she/her)

Winner of Sun Life’s 2021 CEO's Award of Excellence, Katherine worked her way from an entry-level position to running the behavioural economics practice at Sun, where her team’s work simplifies decision-making for millions of Canadians.  Katherine first became interested in BE while completing her MBA at Wilfrid Laurier University. She’s passionate about helping her colleagues learn about behavioural barriers and has trained dozens of practitioners through her BE bootcamps.

Melissa Tomko headshot

Melissa
Tomko

Senior UX Designer
Sun Life
(she/her)

MELISSA TOMKO (she/her)

With a background in ecommerce and financial services, Melissa brings a behaviour-based, data-driven approach to experience design – collaborating with Product, Engineering, and Marketing teams to help simplify complex decisions for millions of Canadians.   Melissa holds an Honours Bachelor’s of Science in CCIT and Psychology from the University of Toronto, as well as a Masters of Information with a focus in Knowledge media design from the University of Toronto’s iSchool.

Linn Vizard headshot

Linn
Vizard

Founder & CEO
Made Manifest
(she/her)

LINN VIZARD (she/her)

Linn is one of Canada’s leading advocates of service design, and co-founded Service Design Toronto in 2013. She currently runs a boutique consulting practice,Made Manifest, leading transformational service design projects with a wide range of clients. Clients have included organizations like TELUS, Shopify, Instacart, the City of Toronto, WSIB and OCADUCO. She also writes the popular ‘Ask a Service Designer’ newsletter. She loves glitter, dancing, and cats, and lifting very heavy things.

Rob Williams headshot

Rob
Williams

AVP, User Experience Design
Sun Life
(he/him)

ROB WILLIAMS (he/him)

Rob has over ten years of experience leading teams across financial services and tech in the design and delivery of digital experiences. Today Rob leads the UX Design practice at Sun Life Canada, working with a team of designers, writers, researchers, and recently behavioral scientists in the design of experiences to simplify the needlessly complex world of digital health and finance. Rob holds a Master’s in Communication Design from the University of Waterloo.

2022 Schedule

This year's lineup of speakers features an incredible group of design and business leaders ready to inspire. Sessions include a live QA session.

SATURDAY, March 12, 2022

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10:00 AM

Welcoming Remarks

10:15 AM

Designing with Diversity - How Focusing on Accessibility Helped Us Become Better Designers

While working together as members of the TELUS Service Design team, when Ben & Linn were given the opportunity to focus on retail accessibility, they were nervous and excited. The experience of this project was transformative, and pushed them to become better and more inclusive designers. The lessons learned and insights gained from this work have continued to inform their approach to design, and evolved our practice.

In this talk, Ben & Linn will tell the story of what they learned, and how they continue to apply these lessons in order to engage diverse groups in their design process.

Ben Kim
Sr. Consultant, CIBC

Linn Vizard
Founder & CEO, Made Manifest

11:00 AM

Design Against Domestic Violence

A variety of technologies can be used by abusers to harm others. This session covers the ways technology can be implicated in psychological abuse, financial abuse, and stalking, and will address how those working in tech can create products which take domestic violence into account.

Julie McClement
Senior Product Designer, Code for Canada

11:45 AM

Lunch

12:15 PM

In conversation with... The Conscious Creative

It can be difficult to live according to our values in a complicated world. At a time when capitalism seems most unforgiving but the need for paying work remains high, it is important to learn how we can be more mindful and intentional about our impact — personal, social, economic, and environmental.

As designer and creative director Kelly Small had to navigate a crisis of ethics and burnout in their career in advertising. We can admit our complicity in problematic systems and take on the responsibility of letting our own conscience guide our decisions.

Kelly Riback-Small
Chief Creative Officer, Intents & Purposes Inc.
Author of The Conscious Creative

1:00 PM

Did we just become best friends? Bringing Behavioural Economics and UX together at Sun Life

Rob Williams
AVP User Experience Design, Sun Life

Katherine Serwin
Director, Behavioural Economics, Sun Life

Melissa Tomko
Senior UX Designer, Sun Life

1:45 PM

Waterloo Warriors Streching Break

2:00 PM

Google UX Careers Panel

What have Googlers learned about having a career in UX? Join us as Googlers share lessons learned from their own journeys, on topics such as workplace culture and inclusive design. The panel will include Q&A, so bring your questions about the industry and how to build a career in UX.

Kaitlyn Barnett
University Programs Specialist, Google

Robert Barlow-Busch
UX Design Lead, Google

Marim Ganaba
UX Designer, Google

Jennie Heo
UX Researcher, Google

Jenn Pretti
UX Lead, Google

3:00 PM

Manulife Design Showcase + Networking Session

Hear from Manulife designers about current projects and how they apply design for all throughout their organization. Following the showcase, network with the Manulife team and fellow attendees in small breakout sessions.

Richmond Sedcole
AVP Human Centered Design, Manulife

Sunday, March 13, 2022

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10:00 AM

Welcoming Remarks

10:15 AM

Find the Friction

Our gut tells us to eliminate friction to design great user experiences, but what if friction is necessary to create more impactful designs? As designers, we should instead use friction - good friction - to help guide us towards better solutions. Embracing the hesitation, uncertainty, and tension can not only help us build intentionally and thoughtfully, it is an instinct that can help us identify key forces and skills that takes our practice to the next level.

Crystal Chin
Interaction Designer, RBC

11:00 AM

Designing Ethically - Designing for the best interests of humanity

The products and experiences we build can have far reaching impacts on the well-being of an individual, society and even our planet. As decision makers, we have a responsibility to consider the consequences of our work, both positive and negative. In this session we'll explore Ethical Design and how to incorporate more thoughtfulness into our process so we may design for all humans, and ensure our work reflects the values of a society and planet we want to live in.

Paul Jurkovic
Creative Director & Strategist, TWG/Deloitte

11:45 AM

Closing Remarks