Critical Mass Hometown: Heart of The New West, Calgary

Calgary attracts folks looking beyond the New York or San Francisco scenes.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your current role.

My name is Chris Gokiert and as President of Critical Mass, I wear a number of hats. I’ve been with Critical Mass for a long time, and serving our clients is still at the heart of what we do. I support key client teams producing excellent client experiences to ultimately create great work. Being engaged with client leads and accounts across the agency helps ensure we’re creating experiences that improve customers’ lives.


How would you describe the culture of Calgary?

Calgary isn’t what most people expect. The community has Western roots, but we don’t wear it on our sleeve like Nashville or Dallas—with the exception of Stampede (It’s a big deal…Google it). It has most of the accoutrements of a large city, but it’s just over a million strong.  It has a real hunger to be seen as a modern city—Calgary has an evolving culture where technology, innovation, and creativity are changing the face of business. Coupled with that small-city feel, Calgary has different pockets of culture just waiting to bust out.


In what ways does the city of Calgary inspire you?

Calgary doesn’t rest on its laurels. Sometimes Calgary suffers from labels like “too far away” or “way up north.” But it’s these “labels” that light a fire under Calgarians. We’re a city of creative people who know how to get the job done—and do it exceptionally well. With all this energy to feed off of, Calgary continues to grow. And looking out the window and seeing the glorious Rocky Mountains doesn’t hurt either.


Calgary is a hotspot for so many young talents and industry leaders. What has contributed to that?

Calgary attracts folks looking beyond the New York or San Francisco scenes. It’s a big city in a mid-size city body.  In addition to the arts, music, restaurant scene, it’s the perfect place for people who love the outdoors. I’m pretty sure we’ve got more miles of bike lanes and green space than most North American cities. And world-class mountains are just a quick hour away.


What would you say is the most unique aspect Calgary offers agencies?

Calgary offers agencies the chance to build and nurture talent form the ground up. With a higher retention rate than larger cities, the mindset is to invest in your employees early on to help them grow. There is also a sense of collaboration. The start-up and agency markets blend into an interesting offer for young talent and the cross pollination helps agencies stay ahead of the game.


What is your favorite hidden-gem in Calgary?

If we’re talking food, Mirchi is the place to try. It’s a tiny shop, but its rich Indian flavors pack a punch and are great for takeout when you’re grinding late at the office. For a different happy-hour with your team, try Bar Annabelle, where whiskey and wine flow easily and vintage records are always playing.


If you could change something about Calgary, what would it be?

Not much, really. It’s pretty damn fine the way it is.