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Greg HolderfieldExecutive Director, Segal Design InstituteCo-director, MMM ProgramPentair - D. Eugene and Bonnie L. Nugent Clinical Professor of Design Innovation


Greg Holderfield is the Executive Director of the Segal Design Institute and Co-Director of the MMM program, which is a dual degree graduate program focused on innovation within the McCormick School of Engineering and the Kellogg School of Management. 

At Segal, Holderfield collaborates with Segal leadership, setting priorities, overseeing resources, designing student experiences, and establishing the strategies necessary to deliver design approaches to problem-solving that complement core engineering skills and mindsets at McCormick and Northwestern. He is responsible for Segal programming and experience, oversees teaching faculty and staff, teaches undergraduate and graduate level design innovation coursework across the Segal portfolio, and collaborates with McCormick – developing and driving messaging and point of view, internally and externally.  

Holderfield works closely with Dean Julio M Ottino of McCormick to set a collaborative trajectory within the school of engineering and with the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Kellogg School of Management – creating a “design innovation for all” platform for Northwestern University. He also collaborates with the Kellogg Co-Director and the MMM Student Executive Council (MMMSec), setting priorities, managing resources, designing student experiences, messaging, recruitment, curriculum, external partnerships, and faculty. 

Holderfield's role as a faculty member at Northwestern University is to create the best conditions for learning, which his research has shown to be based upon a studio culture that supports true multi-disciplinary collaboration, the sharing of ideas, constructive critique, curiosity, creative expression and making. Additionally, he is a hands-on educator who leverages his years of professional practice to authentically inspire and challenge students to go deeper in their own work by pushing boundaries, asking tough questions, and ultimately discovering and developing meaningful solutions that inspire. 

While Segal embraces design from all perspectives and domains, Holderfield’s personal expertise is focused on human-centered and aesthetic/emotional approaches to innovation, which are universally applicable to any area of the human experience. These approaches leverage design thinking methods, a maker culture, creative exploration, and business perspectives. 

Holderfield further claims that these approaches are best learned through highly interactive and contextually engaging experiences that enable and empower students to understand the actual underlying problem. It starts with putting students directly in the context of the problem space, where they understand stakeholder needs first-hand. This deep understanding allows them to gain empathy, which ultimately frames the opportunity in a way that is meaningful to people. These opportunity frameworks inform the generation of conceptual ideas, which are then prototyped and tested, and iterated upon using constructive feedback loops. Lastly, students build outcomes that are not only original but desirable, feasible, and viable. 

Ultimately, these approaches are deeply personal, interactive, and iterative. A student's ability to learn comes about through a deep and rigorous immersion that is facilitated through project-based experiences, rather than theoretical simulations. 


PhD, Design, Coventry University, Coventry, UK

MS, Product Design and Development Management, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

BFA, Industrial Design, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL

Teaching and Research Interests

Design thinking, business design, cultures of innovation, organizational leadership, product and service design and design strategy.


Professor Holderfield also holds 44 design and utility patents.


View PDF of Holderfield's CV.

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