Led by Principal Heidi McCulloch, and supported by a team of experts with the diverse competencies clients need, HMSD combines rigour and analytics with the fresh divergent perspectives of design thinking to drive innovation.

All associates abide by the principles HMSD has come to be known for:

TRUST: At HMSD, we deliver what we promise.
LEADERSHIP: With HMSD, you get guidance from a position of expertise.
OPTIMISM: At HMSD, we constantly strive to find a way to carve new paths.

Heidi McCulloch


HMSD Design Research & Strategy is led by Principal Heidi McCulloch. Heidi brings a diverse work experience to the practice, which culminates in a unique standard of rigor and creativity. A serial entrepreneur, HMSD is Heidi’s fourth independent business.  Being in the trenches, placing bets and seeing the outcomes of those bets serves to bring a strategic perspective that can’t be reproduced.  With more than 20 years of professional experience, Heidi has held marketing roles on the client side, in hospitality with The Sutton Place Hotels Group and in finance technology with Newcourt Financial (now CIT Group). Moving into the communications field, Heidi spent 15 years in Strategic Planning, most recently at the Vice President level, leveraging customer-centric principles to help build some of the world’s biggest brands with global leading agencies of TBWA Chiat/ Day (Apple, Nissan), MDC Partners (Corel Corporation), and McCann (General Motors, Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, Intel, MasterCard, World Vision). 

Heidi is a design thinker, and a systems thinker; she is highly collaborative and explicitly user-centred.  Her core competencies are in the use of hybrid design research methods, translating complex information into meaningful insight for strategic direction, and facilitating organizational mindsets to make new strategic paths possible.

Heidi has an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Western University in London, Ontario, Canada, a Master of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation from OCAD University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and half of a Master of Art in Psychology from Yorkville University in New Brunswick, Canada.

Elizabeth Takasaki


Elizabeth is a skilled researcher, strategist and facilitator with more than 20 years experience working across a broad range of categories. Elizabeth inspires trust and epitomizes leadership with her unparalleled level of organization, imaginative perspective as well as the unique ability to translate strategy into implementation.

Elizabeth is a graduate of the University of Toronto and trained as a qualitative moderator at the RIVA institute in Rockville, Maryland.

Rubina Shaikh


A strategist with ten years experience, Rubina has a specialized competency for understanding the modern digital landscape and leveraging insight for technology applications. She began her career with Deloitte in Business Analytics, moving to the McCann group and most recently was with Mitch Joel’s Mirum Agency.

Rubina has a Bachelor of Commerce from Ryerson University.