Leadership


Country leadership

Sheila Wisniewski

President and CEO, Canada
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Sheila Wisniewski is President and CEO of Hill+Knowlton Strategies Canada.  She has over 20 years’ experience in public relations, and is a nationally recognized expert in the areas of corporate communications, consumer marketing, and influencer engagement.

Sheila joined the firm in 2003.  She became general manager of H+K’s largest Canadian office and headquarters in Toronto in 2015, and was appointed president and CEO in 2018.  With sectoral expertise in technology, consumer goods, healthcare, and retail, she has led integrated national accounts for such diverse clients as Whirlpool, Coca-Cola, HP, and IKEA.

Sheila holds a bachelor of arts (honours) degree in English and political science from Trent University, and graduated with honours from Humber College’s public relations certificate program. She is passionate about social issues and is a driver of H+K Canada’s national CSR program, Inclusion+.  Sheila is proud to serve on the Board of Directors for the Sinai Health Foundation.

 


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Hilda Kinross

Senior Vice-President + National Lead, Innovation + Integration
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Adopting an ‘always in beta’ philosophy as H+K Canada’s Innovation and Integration Lead, Hilda is responsible for adapting and deploying new proprietary innovation tools and approaches across the national network, providing strategic counsel on large national files and integrated new business opportunities.

She brings over 20 years of experience in planning and executing integrated communications and marketing programs in a wide variety of sectors including, Consumer technology, CPG, Entertainment, Fashion and Retail, Food and Beverage, Consumer Health and Leisure and Travel.

Before joining the firm, Hilda spent several years directing national public and media relations efforts in the technology marketplace, with a focus on consumer marketing. Her background includes event management and, in her prior years of practice, managing direct mail and employee communications campaigns. While living in South Africa, Hilda managed the external communications programs for a leading wireless company and headed up a global sponsorship project for an international telecommunications company.

Hilda holds a bachelor of arts and an honours degree in business from WITS University in South Africa. She also studied international relations at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel.


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Chris Davies

Senior Vice President + Executive Creative Director
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Chris brings more than 20 years of experience — including more than a decade’s worth in creative leadership roles — at a wide range of agencies to H+K. He has worked extensively in every medium imaginable, including print, television, direct response, radio, social, digital, online video, CRM, shopper marketing and e-commerce. He has also worked with clients in almost every category. ​

Along with a well-honed instinct for harnessing compelling ideas, Chris deeply understands the importance of seamless integration and has a sixth-sense for how every part of the marketing mix can work together. Passionate about the work and progressive in his approach to creativity, he helps drive thought-provoking programs for clients while ensuring that they are executed with the highest level of craft. Chris sees the big picture, but he also sweats the details. ​

Chris previously served as national creative director at H+K from 2014 to 2016. He rejoined H+K in 2018 from Traffik, where he was executive creative director. Prior to 2014, he held creative leadership roles at TAXI, BIMM, ACLC and Sharpe Blackmore Euro RSCG (now Havas). ​

Chris started his career as a copywriter. His work has been recognized by several Canadian and international awards shows and publications, including the CMAs, the Shopper Innovation Awards, the Promo! Awards, Applied Arts, the Caples, D&AD, the Ovation Awards, the DMA Echos, Lürzer’s Archive and the London International Advertising Festival. He received a bachelor of arts in English from McMaster University in Hamilton and has taken the intensive management for creative directors course developed by VCU Brandcenter — a division of Virginia Commonwealth University.


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Kristy Payne

General Manager, Toronto
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As General Manager of the Hill+Knowlton Strategies Toronto office and a member of the agency’s Canadian leadership team, Kristy oversees the operations of the office, driving a culture of collaboration, and delivers strategic counsel to clients drawing on her marketing and communications experience.

Before joining H+K, Kristy spend a decade at Plan International Canada, most recently as Chief Communications Officer, responsible for the organization’s media and public relations, youth engagement and school fundraising, corporate communications, brand, advocacy, as well as digital communications.

Prior to Plan International Canada, Kristy managed public affairs and communications for Coca-Cola where she was responsible for leading the partnership with the World Wildlife Fund, launching Coca-Cola Canada’s first Corporate Social Responsibility report and travelling across Canada managing media relations during the Vancouver 2010 Torch Relay and Winter Olympics sponsorship.

Kristy started her career in communications for a school board and then managed the marketing acquisition and research arm of a publishing company producing niche lifestyle magazines and television guides. Kristy also worked for the Ministry of Education in Alberta where she integrated leading-edge digital learning resources into K–12 curriculum.

She has travelled extensively including a year teaching English in South Korea and holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree in International Business and Marketing from the University of Alberta, a French language certificate from Laval University, and an MBA from Queen’s University.


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Isabelle Verreault

General Manager, Québec
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Isabelle has been providing leadership oversight to H+K Canada’s teams in the Montreal and Quebec City offices since May 2016. She has more than 20 years’ experience in project management and communication, the last 13 of which have been in the fields of urban development, land use planning and public participation.​

With her exceptional ability to quickly grasp the dynamics of different environments, Isabelle plays a key role in major projects in the energy, mining, real estate and infrastructure sectors. She advises major public and private institutions in the development of information, communication and consultation strategies that will enable them to interact with the various stakeholders involved in their complex projects. With her comprehensive knowledge of various regulatory bodies, Isabelle helps steer project teams through municipal, provincial and federal approval processes and prepares them for public hearings.​

Prior to co-founding Acertys, Isabelle spent ten years in the banking sector, in marketing communications and call centre management, and as an agency account manager. In the early 2000s, she joined an organization that supports local cooperative initiatives in the Montreal area where she collaborated on numerous urban revitalization initiatives and helped develop and implement public participation processes for major real estate projects.

Isabelle has a Bachelor’s degree in political science and has completed graduate studies in management. Isabelle is very involved in her community and she is a board member of SOVERDI and Technoparc Montreal. She is also involved in the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2), and she often gives talks and training workshops on the challenges associated with public participation and social acceptability.

 


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Stephen Smart

General Manager, Western Canada (Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina)
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Stephen brings 20 years of communications and media experience to his role as the General Manager of Hill+Knowlton Strategies’ Vancouver office and as a member of the agency’s Canadian leadership team. Focused on delivering strategic counsel to clients across a range of sectors, Stephen is a trusted resource for strategic media relations, public affairs, issues management, as well as stakeholder relations advice. He is also regularly engaged by both government and corporate leaders for crisis or issues management counsel across North America as well as executive level media training.​

Stephen stepped away from agency work for two years to serve as the Press Secretary to the Premier of British Columbia and then as Executive Director of Communications and Issues Management for British Columbia’s Official Opposition Caucus. ​

Before moving into communications consulting in 2014, Stephen spent 15 years as an award-winning journalist with several of Canada’s top news organizations including serving as the Legislative Bureau Chief for CBC News in British Columbia, as well as experience as a reporter, producer and talk show host for CKNW Radio, CTV, and Global BC. His journalism expertise and local BC market knowledge gives him a unique media relations insight as well as unparalleled contacts in major newsrooms across the province and the country.​

Stephen is also regularly engaged by media outlets to provide political commentary and analysis and volunteers as a senior advisor to a non-partisan society working to encourage more younger Canadian to seek political office.

 


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Rob Mariani

General Manager, Ottawa
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As the general manager of the Ottawa office, Rob is committed to empowering his talented colleagues to deliver superior service and value add for our clients.  His responsibilities include developing strategies for growth, driving business development and marketing activities, and providing leadership and mentorship to ensure the office meets and exceeds its business objectives. 

Rob joined H+K in 2012 via the acquisition of a company he co-founded in 2002 – Ascentum – a leading provider of public and stakeholder engagement services. When he arrived at H+K Rob served as a group leader and subsequently became a national practice leader, tasked with introducing the tools and methods he brought to H+K to his colleagues across the country. In 2017 he took on the role of general manager of the Ottawa office, the position that he maintains today. 

Rob holds a combined undergraduate degree in economics and public policy along with a master of business administration (MBA) degree from the University of Ottawa. Rob holds professional engagement certification through the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2).


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Sarah Brandon

Senior Vice President + National Lead, Business Development + Marketing
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Sarah leads H+K Canada’s national new business and marketing efforts. She is an expert strategist and proven leader with a deep understanding of the firm’s corporate culture and service offerings on a global scale. Sarah brings a wealth of agency experience in marketing communications to help strengthen creative processes and drive business development. ​

Prior to rejoining H+K, Sarah was vice-president of consumer marketing at a national public relations firm and was a member of its global consumer leadership team. In this role, she was the senior communications strategist and Canadian-market integration lead for an impressive roster of global, North American and domestic brands.

Sarah originally joined H+K Toronto in 2000 where she spent six years with the marketing communications team. She then spent three years in H+K’s London, England, office leading consumer files that spanned from CPG to consumer health to automotive. ​

She has a bachelor of arts in media, information and techno-culture studies from Western University, and belongs to the Canadian Public Relations Society and International Association of Business Communicators.


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