To call Kristy Derkson’s career “multidisciplinary” doesn’t quite fit the bill. A casual observer might read the word “multidisciplinary” and think of breadth, rather than depth, of experience. Really, Kristy brings decades of multidisciplinary experience: breadth and depth, whether in healthcare communications, corporate communications, consumer marketing, and much more.
But let’s rewind. Like many in agency land, Kristy didn’t start her career in an agency. Instead, she began her career in politics working as part of the British Columbia government.
“I ended up in politics by accident, and I loved it,” says Kristy.
“But even more than that, I loved what I learned—and it was through politics I fell in love with communications.”
It was certainly an unconventional passion considering her schooling. Kristy benefits from an unusual educational background for a communications consultant: a science degree. But thinking like a scientist orients Kristy even to this day, helping her organize and devise strategies with a surgeon-like attention to detail.
With the seed of passion planted, Kristy made a career decision: she knew she wanted to focus on communications and work in an agency.
“I didn’t want to get locked into a certain industry—at an agency, you can do so much. You can work with so many different clients in so many different industries and learn communications skills that will lead you to succeed anywhere.”
And Kristy’s career is a testament to that mantra: she’s succeeded in every corner of the communications landscape she’s touched. That’s perhaps what makes Kristy different from other industry leaders—rather than intensive specializations, she’s spent decades deep diving into multiple service areas. Whether it’s pharmaceuticals, consumer health, consumer-packaged goods, retail, food and beverage, nutrition, technology, or not-for-profit, Kristy has sharpened her expertise across a rainbow of disciplines.
That same rainbow of experiences has made Kristy a master of integration. She’s led large projects with teams from across disciplines with a sharp eye for bringing different services to bear in the pursuit of client goals. Kristy is a master at solving problems; it is what gets her up in the morning. Her passion for new ideas and approaches, coupled with her demonstrated success in leading integrated teams, means her campaigns are always on the cutting-edge. From launching innovative products and programs, to lending her expertise as organizations build their brands and reputations, Kristy has seen and done it all.
As a leader, Kristy wants nothing but to surround herself with the best people.
“You’ve got to know your own strengths and weaknesses, and surround yourself with people who fill the gaps,” she says.
“I want the smartest people, the most capable people, people who want to learn and grow.”
Kristy has built that at GCI Canada. And she only wants them to get better. At the centre of her management philosophy is a drive for the advancement of the people around her.
“You can’t be threatened when the people around you turn out even better than you are—if I’ve helped mentor someone to that level, I consider that a big accomplishment.”
Elevation is Kristy’s vision for GCI Canada—an agency of idea architects, the cream of the crop, matching brilliant concepts with brilliant execution.
“This firm can architect a solution to any challenge,” adds Kristy, “and then execute it perfectly. It defines what we do.”