Head of Customer Engagement and Digital Agency 2019: Dianne Wilkins

There's an old adage that contends you can find out a lot about a person's true character during a round of golf. For Dianne Wilkins, CEO of Critical Mass, she discovered her digital design agency, thanks to golf.

While pursuing a career as a golf pro, her passion for the game led her to a series of instructional CD-ROMs that were designed by a digital agency named Critical Mass. Sensing that there was more to the agency and the burgeoning world of digital marketing than met the eye, Wilkins joined the agency 20 years ago and continues to follow her instincts.

Under Wilkins’ leadership, Critical Mass and its affiliate organizations have grown from 25 employees in Canada to more than 950 employees working in different locations around the world by focusing on client-centricity and designing digital experiences that make things easier, faster, simpler, more rewarding and more entertaining for customers.

One of the Campaign award judges raved about her work on gender equality at Critical Mass, which has offices in Canada, the U.S., Europe, Asia and South America as well as a talent development tool called "Liquid Talent." 

When Critical Mass recruits for a position, the emphasis is placed on the person’s relevant experience as it pertains to the client’s specific needs. A recruit’s location is a lesser priority. This distributed workforce, not only enables superior client service, but provides Critical Mass with outposts or "bureaus" where they may have lacked a presence.

"Liquid Talent is an interesting approach," said one of the Campaign award judges. "[Wilkins] sounds like a uniquely lower profile leader in this business which was refreshing and makes her memorable." 

Since joining Critical Mass, Dianne has been actively involved with clients such as Citi, P&G, Nissan/Infiniti, AT&T, adidas and others.

In 2019, the agency billed more than $151 million for the first time (representing 12 percent revenue growth over the previous year) and collected nine new business wins. Critical Mass is also proud to point out that no clients left them in 2019, a rare feat in these tumultuous times in the industry.

She is known in the industry for mixing equal  amounts of strategic thinking, client service and a humble, humanistic approach to all clients. The industry has noticed: Despite her desire to fly under the radar, Critical Mass’s stellar work has collected numerous industry awards throughout her tenure. 

Noted another judge: "Putting up actual numbers when it comes to gender equality is impressive; the ratios at Critical Mass as well as the growth and glowing reviews from employees paint the picture of a focused and empathetic leader."  

The judges’ take synches up nicely with Wilkins’ own philosophy.

"I’m a big believer in being positive, and so I’d like to think that "human," at its best, connotes open-mindedness, passion, drive and a desire to be better as designers and as ethical people who want to use the immense power of digital experience design to make life better for others," she once wrote.