“I’m pleased to have Mark on the team, supporting our issues management and providing objective perspective for our complex issues. Mark understands that complex issues and conflict resolution are more about people’s perceptions than they are about facts, systems or processes. Highly recommended.”
- President, Pipeline
"Our team has found Dr. Szabo's approach to be helpful in navigating complicated land issues. We especially appreciated his concept of Focal Thinking and the idea that complex conflicts should not be approached as negotiations."
- Vice President, Land & Stakeholder Engagement
"I spend most of my time on the ground on the front lines of a very complicated project, managing lots of interpersonal dynamics and complex people issues. I find Mark's weekly strategy updates to be helpful because I don't have time to dig into all the things he uncovers. It runs the gamut from high-level policy issues down to interpersonal dynamics that the engagement team can chase down or at least be aware of."
- Manager, Indigenous Relations
"I always look forward to Mark's weekly updates, because he has a way of putting the entire project in context and put things in a different light. As I try to navigate all the government relationships I appreciate his outside perspective on what is usually a pretty wide range of topics."
- Director, Government Affairs
"So much of engagement work is dealing with complex layers of human emotions and values. Mark's unique approach to navigating that complexity really helps us match up the hard project realities with what's important to the folks on the ground. And back at head office."
- Manager, Engagement
"I have watched Mark's progression in this space from the beginning and I'm very impressed with how he has been able to take a very complicated academic theory and turn it into something incredibly practical and useful. He draws on his background in law, business and communications to apply his approach to complex conflicts in a very unique and compelling way."
- Sr. Business Analyst, Project Manager
"The major contribution [Mark] made is to develop an effective process for transforming a highly complex conflict into inputs that are amenable to the application of the graph model for conflict resolution methodology... Given the importance of making the best choice in 'wicked problem' situations like Northern Gateway, the work completed here can provide a new avenue for gaining insights and making effective decisions. [Mark] builds on, and extends, the time-tested GMCR framework and clearly demonstrates that the model can be applied to one of the most challenging multi-stakeholder environmental issues facing us now."
- Dr. Tom Keenan, University of Calgary
"I've had Mark come to speak to a few of my engagement teams, and they always find his unique perspective very useful. He has a way of helping put very complex issues in context, and that context enables folks to build strategies that take into account the complete range of an issue - which of course is mission-critical to any engagement design. He also has a great way of connecting with people and making challenging content accessible and easy to understand"
- Senior Stakeholder Engagement Manager / Public Participation Practitioner
"I have had the pleasure of working with Mark since 2010. Mark is off the charts bright, has a laser sharp and witty communication style, and is gifted at taking apart complex challenges and building understandable strategies. He’s a passionate advocate for creating persuasive experiences and he gets things done!"
- Susan Merchant, Facilitator
"I have known Mark for almost two years now and here is a summary of my experiences with him. He is unique in that he is able to take the maelstrom that typically exists within client organizations and is able to turn it into an actionable strategy, all while making the client feel like they were responsible for it all. He can do this because is able to connect with people and get right to the heart of the matter, regardless of their position on the org chart. He's equally effective with front line staff as with CEOs and Chairs. He has a keen understanding of branding and finance, which has been helpful to us at Brand Finance as we grow our practice in the financial and government sectors in North America. I genuinely appreciate Mark's collaborative attitude and willing to explore new ideas and figure out how we can partner together to resolve a client challenge. The fact that he is able to do this consistently with multiple organizations in an engagement at the same is a rare talent."
- Edgar Baum, CEO at Strata Insights, Post-Graduate Lecturer
"The substantial client success experienced by our team had Mark Szabo's fingerprints all over it. His fluency in client objectives and knack for metabolizing those requirements into clear, delineated project briefs are as rare as they were critical to maintaining high levels of trust and credibility with those across the boardroom table. If you find it uncommon that the same person can present the sometimes-harsh reality of a tense account one minute, and then be invited by those same client-side execs to dinner the next, you're right. Mr. Szabo is uncommon. His ability to understand all elements of a changing equation — with a smile on his face, flair for ice-breaking, and nary a harsh word for anyone — justifiably elevated Mark to rockstar status with his teammates and clients alike."
- Steve Susi, Group Creative Director, Advertising Design & User Experience at Amazon
"We recently enlisted Mark to help us develop an awareness-building campaign, and we've been impressed with his team's professionalism and creativity from the get-go. They have helped us immensely, especially by turning our subject matter into a compelling story that connects directly with our audience. Mark looks at every challenge three dimensionally and presents ideas that help align marketing activities with overarching business goals. I would highly recommend Mark to anyone wanting to create engaging and impactful experiences for their customers."
- Amanda Hehr, Co-Founder, Director at Cru Juice
"Mark led far more than his direct team during his tenure at Critical Mass. He demonstrated a high degree of expertise and his leadership style was clear and always solution-based. He paints a picture and creates a vision for his team that is immediately actionable in every situation (which is a rare quality in today's management). Mark is extremely enthusiastic about his work which is infectious. He's never short of innovative marketing ideas and knows how to get large teams behind them. It was an honor to work with him."
- Heidi Skinner, Social Media Strategy Manager at Harley-Davidson Motor Company
"During my time with Mark, he held together our small team under the immense pressure of the Rolex account for what felt like an eternity while we put together what would be become one of the most awarded digital luxury platforms ever. I can say with a great deal of confidence that the end result would not have been nearly as good without his superb client management skills and supreme dedication to the team."
- Adam Bracegirdle: Creative Director at VICE
"Mark is no stranger to leading large, multidisciplinary teams through complex projects. He also generally gains instant respect because of his extensive industry knowledge, unique perspective, and ability to articulate his thoughts using simple yet powerful language rather than marketing jargon and buzzwords. More than a partner to his clients, he's one of the few that can also work collaboratively with the teams to set actionable digital strategies that produce measurable results."
- Arif Hirani, Director, Operations Group at Shaw Communications
"Mark is one of the smartest people in our business. It's not just his education - LLB, MBA and now a PHD - but also everything he has learned leading some great agencies. For the foundation of great creative is great strategy, and that comes from having the smarts to make very complex issues simple and easy to grasp. He's also a damn good bass guitar player. Maybe that's the secret."
- Paul Long, Principal, Paul Long & Partners
"I have high expectations of the individuals with which I choose to work. Mark exceeds them on all levels. I am constantly gratified by the way he grasps concepts, and almost immediately comes up with ways to present them in highly innovative ways.He is extremely knowledgeable, and can recommend the right contacts to get the job done, whatever it may be."
- Paul Armitage, Dreams Purveyor at SandCastle Dreams Ltd.