Strategic Design MBA

Hybrid Thinking in Action

In the Strategic Design MBA, cohorts of high-potential professionals work as teams throughout the program, gaining experience and skills together. These teams of Hybrid Thinkers benefit from their cohort network, immersive industry partnerships and connections, and international exposure throughout the program.

This active, collaborative structure gives Hybrid Thinkers preparation to be leaders in today's world.

Industry Partners and Projects

We have worked with an incredible array of industry partners to make innovative improvements in the companies of today and tomorrow. During these projects, teams of Strategic Design students work alongside representatives from leading companies, solving real-world problems with a hybrid-thinking approach. Some of our partners include:

Our Partners Include

  • The Abington Art Center
  • The Agrarian Group
  • Art Sanctuary
  • Boeringher Engelheim
  • CertainTeed
  • Common Practice
  • D’Agostino Fashion & Textiles
  • Fare & Square (of Philabundance)
  • Generocity
  • Girl Scouts
  • Independence Blue Cross
  • iPraxis
  • Lichtenstein
  • Medecision
  • The Painted Bride Art Center
  • Philadelphia Gas Works
  • The School District of Philadelphia
  • Verizon
  • Vynamic


If your company would like to partner with the SDMBA program, please contact Program Director Natalie Nixon at

IBM Partnership: Philanthropic Outreach

SDMBA IBM Partnership

Strategic Design Thinkers Bari Fisher, Nikia Hill and Scott Reed partnered with On Demand Community, the philanthropic corporate citizen initiative branch of International Business Machines Corporation (IBM). Through interviews with employees and stakeholders and exhaustive secondary research, the team gained insight on the current status of the outreach program and identified opportunities for the program to forward the IBM brand.

By improving community contributions and impact, the On Demand Community branch can make a larger positive influence on the overall IBM Corporation.

The team’ plan proposed to better align the program with the IBM brand, develop a cloud-based platform, and develop a new tech product to accomplish their goals.

CertainTeed by Saint-Gobain: Rebrand and Expansion

SDMBA CertainTeed Partnership

Strategic Design Thinkers Carla Mandell, Ayanna Matlock, Liina Sommer and Adam Sanphy partnered with CertainTeed by Saint-Gobain, a building products manufacturer, to rebrand and the company to all constituents through the customer chain, extending their brand and reputation beyond the direct consumers of contractors, dealers and installers to establish a relationship with building owners and occupants.

The goal of this rebranding and overall brand expansion is to differentiate CertainTeed from other manufacturers, build awareness and inspire purchase intent, extending the company’s market share through a refined and recognizable reputation.

Additionally, the team’s research established a plan to maintain CertainTeed by Saint-Gobain’s position as a market frontrunner by forecasting impending changes in industry norms and making recommendations for staying ahead of the curve.

Design and Dine
Speaker Program

The Strategic Design MBA program invites guest speakers from across industries to share their insights to hybrid thinking, the 21st century work world, and the future of global business—all over dinner.

Guest speakers have included:

  • Harold Hambrose
    President, Electronic Ink
  • Christine Cox
    Co-Founder, BalletX
  • Farrah Bostic
    The Difference Engine
  • Terry Schwartz
    Director of Global Design, Campbell’s
  • Bob Schwartz
    General Manager of Global Design, GE Healthcare
  • Sarah Brooks
    Director of Insight and Design, Veterans Administration
  • Alina Wheeler
    Brand Strategist
  • Bob Aretz
    Founder & Principal of Paragraph, Inc.
  • Bob Moul
    Venture Capitalist & CEO at Cloudamize
  • Brian Lobley
    Senior VP, Marketing & Consumer Insight, Independence Blue Cross
  • Gordon Hui
    Vice President of Strategy, Smart Design
  • Thaddeus Squire
    President, CultureWorks of Greater Philadelphia
  • Steve Wilcox
    Principal, Design Science

See Where We’ve Been

The Strategic Design MBA emphasizes international understanding and exposure as an essential element for career growth in today’s globalized world. Our Hybrid Thinkers visit and work with people across the world that employ design thinking practices, on unique projects that fuse the practices in design and business.

Helsinki, Finland
A design research project on “the future of work”

Twelve students traveled to Helsinki, Finland to partner with students from Aalto University’s International Design Business Management program. Through a series of provocations, talks from policy makers and designers in Helsinki, and a visit to strategic design firms in Tallinn, Estonia, students developed “future state stories” that captured key drivers businesses would have to factor into ways of organizing companies, schools and neighborhoods. Upon their return, our Hybrid Thinkers co-facilitated a charrette with business leaders from a range of companies and non-profits in Philadelphia region to help them think through the future of work.

Mexico City, Mexico
A design research project focused on the issue of redesigning access to food

In this food systems design project, thirteen of our Hybrid Thinkers collaborated with students from CENTRO in Mexico City using iterative prototyping, a distinctive canvas to map insights, and a cool hunting trip to Tijuana, Mexico. Our colleagues at CENTRO produced this short video, “In Terra Incognita,” summarizing our design research process.

Florence, Italy
An exploration of Renaissance arts

“Self Portrait” was an immersion process through exploration of the Renaissance arts. In partnership with Impara Studies, 20 Hybrid Thinkers journeyed to the heart of Florence and explored leadership, the self, and their professional trajectories by engaging in studios, covering fresco painting with Paride Moretti, ceramic restoration with Artemente, culinary arts with Florence Food Studio and lithograph print making with Il Bisonte.

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