I’m the son of a Creative Director who grew up in an advertising agency.

I have over 20 years experience creating the strategy, concepting and design for award-winning integrated global advertising campaigns, building multiple global Fortune 500 brands and innovative digital experiences. As a leader, I have 15+ years experience creating multiple agency and client-side purpose driven, idea led, world-class teams with cultures that foster innovation and leadership.



Global Head of Design at Citi.

Lead and helped to create Citi Design which is a team made up of multiple in-house design studios and external agencies creating global experiences in digital, branding and advertising for Citi FinTech, the Citi Innovation Labs and the Citi Global Consumer Bank. A few of the team’s projects have included the on-going re-designs of, re-designing the Citi mobile app, updating the Citi brand, creating a new digital design language used across all Citi digital experiences and working with IDEO to create a unique version of Design Thinking with agile methods just for Citi.

I was one of the 40 founding members of Citi FinTech which is a small start-up inside of the Global Consumer Bank dedicated to creating mobile-first solutions to a variety of problems and working as the tip of the spear to change the way the company thinks and operates. The Citi innovation labs work to design and prototype new ideas and emerging technologies from a variety of external partners. The team also works on all aspects of the global consumer bank to create a unified design and creative vision across the entire consumer bank.

SEPT 2006 – JUNE 2015

VP, Global Brand Design and Innovation at Starwood Hotels.

I led the digital design, content, and film & video teams for Starwood Global Brand Design for all 10 of their brands as well as leading all design for the Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program. Over the course of my time at Starwood, I transformed these teams from production focused service organizations into world-class creative teams who were responsible for some of the biggest recent digital innovations in the hospitality industry. I did it by establishing all new standards and culture that drove innovation and built the trust with our clients and the C suite that allowed those innovations to launch to consumers.

Notable innovation included Aloft in SecondLife, the state aware design of the SPG smartphone and iPad apps, SPG Mobile Check-in and SPG Keyless Entry for iPhone and Apple Watch. Apple featured this work in 8 keynotes, 4 TV commercials, on, in Apple Store, in the Human Interface Guidelines and more.


I’ve also worked as a Creative Director for McCann Erickson, 3D animator, junior letterpress operator and more.

Before Starwood, I worked as the Digital Creative Director at Temerlin McClain (part of McCann Worldgroup ) where I led work rebuilding the American Airlines brand after the attacks of September 11th as well as creating integrated global advertising for Subaru, Nationwide Insurance, Verizon, Cathay Pacific, ExxonMobil and more. I was literally born into design and advertising with a father who was a creative director and a mother who was an artist. I learned typography on a cast iron letterpress in the basement of our house and I’ve been working as a designer since I was 13. I cut rubylith, studied Computer Graphics at Syracuse, worked as a 3D animator and then blended all of those skills into my digital work.


“Stephen has some unorthodox sources for creative inspiration that are paying off big”

I sat down with Fast Company magazine for an interview that covered everything from my childhood growing up as the son as a Creative Director to how I seek creative inspiration from talking and working with some of the world’s best chefs.



My work has been recognized with over 150 major design awards.

Including Cannes Cyber Lions, Webby Awards, Web Awards and others. My work has also been recognized with other honors including Apple featuring my work in 8 keynotes, 4 commercials, in Apple Stores, on the iTunes Store and in the Human Interface Guidelines.

• Webby Awards ( 3 finalists and 9 honorees )
• Cannes Cyber Lions
• ACM SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Pioneer Award (1 of 7 awarded worldwide)
• Apple has featured my work in 8 keynotes, 4 commercials, in Apple Stores,, iTunes App Store and the Human Interface Guidelines.
• Mobile WebAwards (3 awards including the 2014 Best Travel app)
• Communication Arts ( 2 Site of the Week, Interactive Annual, and Design Interact interview )
• ADDY Awards ( 29 local, regional and national awards including the first campaign to ever win Best Integrated Campaign and Best of Show Regional with no TV in the campaign )
• WebAwards ( 24 awards )
• Adobe Site of the Day ( 6 awards )
• Featured 5 times on Behance Web Design and App Design Served Sites
• Chosen by the editors of MediaPost and OMMA magazines as one of three 2009 Online Marketing All Stars
• Chosen as a member of International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences



“Stephen was the vanguard for our thinking”

– Frits Von Paasschen, former Starwood CEO


Partner and advisor to the world’s most innovative companies.

I work to find real sociological insights, understand consumer needs and create concepts that use technology to influence consumers, drive revenue and meet business goals. It is the heart of all of my work which is why it can blend world-class design with experiences that get results. As a result of this work, I have been asked to work with brands like Apple, Google, IBM, Adobe, and others to design some of the first experiences on Apple Watch, iOS, Apple Passbook, Google Glass and more. I also regularly work as a beta tester and advisor on apps and products like IBM Watson, multiple releases of Adobe Creative Cloud, Astropad, Adobe Project Comet and more.


I’ve worked with Apple as a launch partner for Apple Watch, iOS and Apple Wallet. They have featured my work in 10 keynotes, 4 commercials, in Apple Stores,, the iTunes App Store, the Human Interface Guidelines and my work has been chosen to their ‘Best of’ yearly app list.

I’ve worked with InVision in a few different ways. I appeared as a speaker at their Design+ Finance event in New York City, I am in the process of writing an article for their blog and I’ve worked as a beta tester and advisor for InVision Studio.


I was one of the world’s first designers to receive and launch an app on Google Glass with the SPG App for Google Glass and have worked with them on refining their Material Design language.


I’ve worked with Adobe for over 10 years as one of 15 members of their Consumer Advisory Board for Creative Cloud helping them shape the strategy of their creative apps. Also worked as an advisor and beta tester on their Touch Apps and Adobe XD.


My work has been featured in over 300 international press outlets.

Across top-tier national, tech, travel and broadcast press. Notable coverage has included The New York Times (print and online), CNN, WIRED, Fast Company, USA Today, CNBC, China Daily, The Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, MacWorld, TODAY show, Re/Code, Financial Times and many others.

Recent professional press highlights

• TIME – Tim Cook Just Revealed More Apple Watch Secrets – read the article
• Engadget – Apple Watch will unlock your hotel room door – read the article
• Fast Company – Starwood’s App Driven vision for the hotel of the future – read the article
• Engadget – Starwood’s app for Google Glass will let you search and book hotels – read the article
• Wall Street Journal – The new hotel key: Your smartphone – read the article
• USA Today – Smartphones to replace room keys at select Starwood Hotels – read the article
• Luxury Daily –Starwood dominates L2′s hotel digital index – read the article 

Recent personal press highlights

• New York Times – For Some, iPad Pro Can’t Match PC Strengths – read the article
• Fast Company – Your Next Innovative Idea Could Be A Restaurant Visit Away – read the article
• – The Workspaces Of Men Who Are On Their Game – read the article
• MacWorld – How developers are making apps for an Apple Watch they haven’t seen yet – read the article
• Resource Magazine – Starwood VP Stephen Gates Reveals His Secrets – read the article
• The Next Big Design – The Bad Boys of Design – read the article
• Adobe success story – Engaging travelers near and far – read the article  |  watch the video


I’m an accomplished international speaker.

I’ve spoken internationally to tens of thousands of people ranging from small sessions for companies like IDEO, Apple, GE, Adobe, L’Oreal and Saatchi to large international keynotes alongside speakers like Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Nest founder Tony Faddel, Martha Stewart, CEO Tony Hsieh, designers Stefan Sagmeister and Karim Rashid. My talks about creativity, design, and leadership are consistently scored by attendees as one of the best talks at every event. I believe that the audience should walk away with specific, concrete ideas they can immediately implement to make them more creative and effective. I’ve been named an Adobe MAX Master speaker as one of the top 20 speakers at the conference for 2015, 2016 and 2017 with those sessions received an average score of 4.9 out of 5 from over 3,000 session attendees. I’ve also been a guest lecturer at Yale, Princeton, SVA, Parsons and I’m an IDEO trained Design Thinking trainer.



I’m an IDEO trained Design Thinking instructor.

I am trained IDEO Design Thinking instructor who has worked with senior members of IDEO to build a custom Design Thinking curriculum and then taught 5 day, 3 day and 1 day intensive workshops alongside with their team and then by myself under their supervision until I had mastered the material and their teaching style. Since then I have taught hundreds of people all over the world in a wide variety of settings and class sizes.