Debbie Ellison

Global Chief Digital Officer


One of a handful of female Global Chief Digital Officers in industry, Debbie was recognised in 2016 as a Woman of Tomorrow by IPA/Campaign. Since then, she has been named Industry Shaper by the global Women in Marketing Awards [2019] – celebrating women who impact the marketing industry and drive digital change. Accolades include Top Ten Inspirational Leader in 2021/ HSBC Ethnicity Awards, and Yahoo Finance EMpower Ethnic Minority Executive Role Model Lists 2021 and 2020.

Debbie’s career started as a technical consultant and led to her sit on VMLY&R Commerce’s global growth committee and the UK EXCO. She has focused the business to deliver across four key digital pillars: Innovation@retail, digital commerce (non-owned, owned and marketplaces), social commerce and eLearning & gamification. 

Leveraging 20 years’ experience in technology and digital commerce, Debbie is developing new commercial models to future-proof business growth, helping brands identify and activate new routes to market– most recently social commerce and direct-to-consumer solutions for luxury brands such as Coco de Mer.

Debbie is shaping the industry with pioneering initiatives such as The Flagship launched in 2019 – fully immersive spaces in London and New York packed with future-facing technologies, allowing brands such as GSK, HSBC and Diageo to prototype and trial technology influencing purchase decisions.  The Flagship is now a permanent fixture in London and New York with further global roll out planned.   

In 2020 Debbie introduced Social Commerce+ - a commercially strategic and executional capability helping companies like TCL, Diageo and Microsoft Store to accelerate growth by connecting commerce to social.  

At the heart of Debbie’s inspirational leadership is passionate belief in diversity and inclusion – as a driver of social and business progress.  She is Executive Sponsor of Roots, a cross-operating company network of individuals passionate about championing greater ethnic and cultural diversity within the advertising industry, agencies and work. 

She has led VMLY&R Commerce UK to be named Diversity & Inclusion Company of the Year [The Drum Digital Industries Awards].