IDC/IIDA Leaders Breakfast Biographies

Advocate and Design Enthusiast

Matthew combined his unique abilities and experience with a deep understanding of the confluence of the design, architecture and related manufacturing sectors. He truly believed in the power of design to effect change in the world and worked to demonstrate how creative approaches could have a positive impact on quality of life and the bottom line.

Matthew was President of Searle & Company in Toronto, a boutique marketing and business consultancy that creates innovative business development, branding and marketing solutions for clients focussed on the design and architectural industries. Matthew was on the board of TO DO, the Toronto Offsite Design Festival, directed marketing and business development at lighting design firm, Lightemotion, and was Chief Marketing Officer for the 2017 World Design Summit in Montreal. This event involves the collaboration of 50 international organizations with delegates expected from 80 countries, representing the professional disciplines associated with the built environment.

Previous to this, Matthew was Marketing and Conference Director of IIDEX Canada for eight years; operated his Montreal-based Rapport marketing firm; developed further expertise with Triede, Azure, Canadian Interiors, Blackstock, Beaton Group and SIDIM; co-founded FaxSource based on that emerging technology; and worked with the team at Designers Walk’s Resource Centre after starting his career in making connections with Daina Leja.

Matthew’s travel to design capitals around the world added to his considered viewpoint and his input was always in demand; he served as a juror on the OAA Awards, ARIDO Awards and Best of Canada Awards and was a board and committee member of the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition.

Matthew’s introduction to his chosen field began early and in Winnipeg: His father, Jack Searle, started his career with Ideal Brass before co-founding Sawhill Furniture and subsequently the buying group, Furniture West; and as a young man, Matthew had a part-time job sorting the archives at Number TEN Architectural Group for his uncle, architect Isadore Coop.


President and Creator, Butterfield & Robinson Inc.

George is an entrepreneur, community leader and a world traveller.

His personal and professional life has been dedicated to the intersections between art, culture, business development and leadership.   George and his wife Martha are avid supporters of the cultural life in Toronto.  Theatre, groups, galleries and museums, artists, literary programs, human rights and environmental  organizations,  and educational institutions (both high schools and universities) are benefactors of their time, creativity, hard work and financial support.

In 1963 George received a “Rhodes Scholar Elect” from Bermuda.

George is best known for his leadership of Butterfield & Robinson, an active travel company  which he co-founded with is wife Martha and his brother-in-law Sidney  Robinson in 1966.  2016 marks its 50th anniversary.  B&R grew slowly and organically, experimenting with travel experiences that resonated with the founders who were  most often travelling on a bicycle or walking to learn about and be immersed in foreign cultures and traditions.

Butterfield & Robinson is one of those unique Canadian companies that has succeeded in the thriving American market and attracts well known business and political leaders, professionals, media personalities and movie stars.  It has grown larger than the sum of its parts and has become the hallmark for excellence and creativity around the world.  Travel & Leisure Magazine in its most recent awards in 2015 named B&R as the “World’s Best Tour Operator”.

Until recently B&R’s management and direction has been George’s responsibility.  His style has been marked by his constant search for creative individuals, building a team around them and giving them the freedom to experiment.  For him, “all ideas are welcome…there is no such thing as a bad idea.”

In 2006 George was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada for his contribution to Canadian business and philanthropy.

In 2007 George received an Honorary Doctorate from OCAD University for his leadership in chairing the capital campaign and assembling a team that raised the forty million plus dollars for OCAD U to fulfill its dream of creating the Will Alsop inspired, Sharp Centre for Design.

George loves business start -ups.  There is always a new one on the go, most often with a partner or two.  The fact that the failures outweigh the successes is no deterrent to the “next great idea” and currently his interests are virtually entirely devoted to the environmental sector where he both invests in and advises venture capital start-ups.

George’s other successes include a 15-year stint as Chairman and CEO of a leading food importing business in Bermuda, Chairing the Canadian Club of Toronto, 1983-84; helping to co-found and chair a leading restaurant chain (60’s and 70’s); multiple boards – both non profit and in business.