The fifth and final set of global inductees to The Drum annual Digerati list – our celebration of the world’s top digital marketers – can now be revealed.
Spanning Silicon Valley to Singapore, the list includes considerable representation from natural digital hotbeds like agencies, new media publishers and social media platforms.
But symbolizing how digital has come to touch so many parts of our lives, you’ll also find top talent from the worlds of banking, retail, sports, food, and music among our cohort.
The list was compiled following reader nominations and curated by The Drum's editorial team. But now, let's meet Friday's inductees into The Drum Digerati 2019...
Gary Vaynerchuk, chief executive officer, Vaynermedia
The outspoken, outgoing chief executive officer of Vaynermedia is a fixture on the conference and speaking circuit, and a standard-bearer for entrepreneurship, ‘hustle’ and the transformative powers of digital marketing. Vaynerchuk’s pioneering use of YouTube to promote his family business catapulted him into the public eye in the United States, leading to a career as a public speaker and author.
He founded agency VaynerMedia in 2009 and has since led the company to scale rapidly. In 2019, his empire continued to grow, signaling its global ambition by hoovering up agency talent such as VJ Anand and scouting out office space across Asia Pacific.
Mel Edwards, global chief executive officer, Wunderman Thompson
Having joined Wunderman UK in 2012 as chief executive, Mel Edwards turned the agency into a force in the marketplace, helping land high profile accounts such as Shell’s consolidated global CRM and retail account and Coca-Cola Northern Europe’s CRM account. As a result, she was appointed chief executive of Wunderman EMEA in 2015, going on to drive growth across 72 offices in 23 markets and increasing her staff from 3,000 to more than 4,500 in three years.
She was then named global chief executive in September of 2018 with the goal to lead the agency’s transition to Wunderman Thompson. She now oversees 20,000 storytellers, data scientists and creative technologists in 90 markets.
Su Lin Tan, vice-president of operations, Carousell
Su Lin Tan joined online marketplace Carousell in January this year having previously been the deputy chief marketing officer and senior vice-president of sales strategy and operations at Singapore Press Holdings. She has over two decades of leadership experience in digital strategy, marketing and the classifieds space.
Having overseen sizable advertising sales and digital organizations, and worked across complex organizational ecosystems, Tan has partnered with Carousell co-founder and chief exec Quek Siu Rui to build a robust operating system for this startup that is scaling rapidly in size and complexity.
Tan is responsible for all things related to marketplace trust and safety, as well as contact center customer experience. She is also responsible for overall vision and strategy of the company, which aims to soon impact and help a billion people across the world.
Prabhakar Raghavan, senior vice-president, Google
Prabhakar Raghavan oversees Google’s advertising and commerce products, including search, display and video advertising, analytics, shopping, payments, and travel. In addition, he is responsible for infrastructure teams that provide much of the software backbone for search, ads and other groups.
Previously, he served as vice-president of Google Apps, Google Cloud, overseeing engineering, products and user experience. Under his leadership, the Apps business expanded from a set of consumer apps to an enterprise solution that is a major contributor to Google’s Cloud business. He also grew both Gmail and Drive past 1 billion MAUs and introduced a number of machine intelligence features in G Suite, including Smart Reply, Smart Compose, Drive Quick Access — each leading to measurable improvements in user experience.
Prior to joining Google, Raghavan founded and led Yahoo! Labs where he was responsible for search and ad ranking, as well as ad marketplace design, and later served as the company’s chief strategy officer.
Adam Petrick, global director of brand and marketing, Puma
Responsible for one of the world’s most recognizable sports brands’ creative and advertising efforts across the globe, Adam Petrick has been instrumental in the brand’s most recent successes – in particular the signing of key celebrity ambassadors and creative brand partners like Rihanna and Jay-Z, as well as the re-introduction of Puma into the Basketball category.
Just this past year, he also spearheaded the launch of Puma #Reform, the brand’s social justice platform that is enabling Puma ambassadors from the worlds of sports, music and entertainment to advocate for issues and champion causes to promote an agenda for change through fashion and action.
Over the course of his 20-year career with Puma, Petrick has held several senior brand and marketing positions within the global and regional offices of Puma and has propelled the transformation of the brand’s approach to the digital space.
Lisa Utzschneider, chief executive officer, IAS
Lisa Utzschneider was brought into her role to expand IAS into new global markets - particularly Latin America and Asia Pacific. She is the former sales boss of Yahoo, where she held the role of chief revenue officer until its acquisition by Verizon in mid-June 2017.
Prior to Yahoo, she was global vice-president of advertising sales at Amazon, where she helped develop the company’s global advertising business. She also spent 10 years working at Microsoft leading strategic and organizational advertising initiatives. Utzschneider has served on the board of two ad industry groups - the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the Ad Council.
Tor Myhren, vice-president of marketing and communications, Apple
Reporting directly to chief executive Tim Cook, Tor Myhren is the top advertising executive at Apple. A former journalist and documentary filmmaker, Myhren has held the vice-president of marketing and communications role since 2016 when he was plucked from his role as president and worldwide chief creative officer at Grey.
As head of what Apple calls its ‘marketing communications group’, he leads a creative team focused on the brand’s advertising, internet presence, package design and other consumer-facing marketing. A two-time TED speaker, Mhyren has been named as one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business, chosen as one of Fortune’s 40 Under 40 and inducted into the Advertising Federation of America’s Hall of Achievement.
Rita Ferro, president of advertising sales and partnerships, The Walt Disney Company
At Disney, Rita Ferro leads advertising sales for the company's entertainment, news, sports and kids linear and digital TV and radio businesses, and the ESPN portfolio. She also leads the integrated sales team for the Disney Digital Network, the company’s online, mobile and social offerings. Additionally, Ferro directs national TV Ad Sales for ABC’s eight owned local TV stations.
Ferro previously served as president, Disney/ABC advertising sales and marketing. Ferro began her career with The Walt Disney Company 22 years ago with ESPN International.
Among her many industry honors, Ferro was named to Variety’s 2018 Power of Women New York Impact list. She currently sits on the board of the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau), the AAF (American Advertising Federation) and the VAB (Video Advertising Bureau).
Alexandra Willis, head of communications, content and digital, The All England Lawn Tennis Club (Wimbledon)
Alexandra Willis has achieved industry-wide recognition in her use of technology to transform the perceptions of a traditional brand in her role at Wimbledon, building an award-winning digital and marketing communications strategy that is at the heart of the long-term future of the brand. Through the combination of a content-first, platform second approach, a data-led audience strategy, and placing value on consistent innovation as well as continuous evolution, she has led Wimbledon to become one of the most well-respected digital and marketing brands in sport.
She was named one of the Drum Digerati 2019, 2018 & 2017, Leaders in Sport Under 40 2019 and 2016, BIMA 100 2018, Sports Technology Young Exec of the Year 2017, and Sport Industry NextGen 2016. She has an MA in History from Oxford University and an Executive MBA from Harvard Business School and is a Trustee of Greenhouse Sports.
Inspired to become a sports enthusiast by her grandfather, who was an enduring fan of any sport, just never the warm up, Alexandra has worked in the sports industry for over 10 years, moving from magazine to newspaper to digital journalism before turning her attention to the broader marketing and digital technology mix.
Alan Tsui, vice-president of digital, loyalty and portfolio marketing, Marriott
Alan Tsui has served in his current role at Marriott for just over a year, having come to the hotel chain after four years at Cathay Pacific’s frequent flyer program Asia Miles, where he rose from head of channel marketing to the head of digital analytics. Tsui has helmed the launch of Marriott One Media, its hybrid in-house agency powered by Publicis. His work on Marriott’s portfolio in Asia coincided with an overhaul of its loyalty schemes under the Marriott Bonvoy umbrella, its latest effort to inspire repeat visits from customers across the firm’s web of hotel and luxury marques.
Christian Juhl, global chief executive, GroupM
Having turned Essence – the media agency renowned for its digital chops – into a global force to be reckoned with, Christian Juhl has now been promoted to the biggest media buying job in WPP and by extension the whole industry.
As the new chief executive of GroupM, he’s responsible for a media buying empire comprising six major agencies (Mindshare, MediaCom, Wavemaker, Essence, m/six and Xaxis), 35,000 staff and $48bn worth of billings. When Essence surprisingly scooped the £106m L’Oreal media account this summer, its chief marketing officer said the agency was chosen over bigger and better-established rivals because “we were looking for an agency of 2023, not 2019”. In a turbulent media world, WPP boss Mark Read is now banking on the innovative Juhl to transform GroupM into the definitive “modern media company”.
Mary Zhou, chief marketing officer, Lazada Group
Driving the region’s integrated marketing engine across four key areas (branding/creative, social media, partnerships and performance marketing) Zhou spearheaded Lazada’s high-profile brand refresh this year, elevated the role of marketing solutions as a value creator for business and introduced new ‘shoppertainment’ innovations, such as Lazada’s 7th Birthday Party Concert (this was the region’s first livestreamed, in-app gala, with top talent from six southeast Asia countries and the region’s first livestreamed in-app gameshow on an eCommerce platform).
Before Lazada, Zhou was head of media at Alibaba Group for two years and prior to that was general manager of client services at GroupM in Beijing and Shanghai.
Julian Hearn, founder, Huel
As the founder of Huel, one of a new breed of meal replacement companies, Julian Hearn set out to transform our relationship with food. With its influencer-friendly packaging and savvy web presence touting its “nutritionally complete”, environmentally-friendly formula with “just the right amount” of protein - this is a physical product built for the woke, digital age. Huel sold 2.7m meals exclusively through e-commerce in January this year, bringing in £5.3m in revenue. In 2018, it took £40m in revenue on top of a £20m investment from Highland Europe. To date it has sold more than 45m meal replacements. Hearn, a former Tesco, Starbucks and Waitrose marketer, will not be satisfied with sales alone; his ambition is to fundamentally change the way we buy and consume food. “I’ve made my money,” he told The Drum.
Sujatha Kumar, head of marketing for India and south Asia, Visa
Based in Mumbai, Sujatha Kumar was named Visa’s marketing chief for India and South Asia in May 2019. Her rise to one to the top of the continent’s financial league tops a resume filled with positions at some of the world’s biggest brands, including P&G, the Coca-Cola Company and, most recently, Google.
At Visa, she is responsible for spearheading consumer, retail and digital marketing initiatives in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and the Maldives. She is known for her ability to couple creativity with data skills – honed during her studies in psychology.
Ruth Stubbs, global president, iProspect
Ruth Stubbs has an impressive CV for media agency leadership, with roles spanning multiple markets and businesses. Her previous roles include CEO of GroupM Interaction and APAC president of media brands. In her current role at iProspect, Stubbs has moved back to London from Singapore, where she was previously running the APAC business of the Dentsu Aegis agency. It was here that Stubbs and colleagues started the Female Foundry project, which develops female-founded start-ups around the world via an accelerator program. The project has also spawned ‘hear her voice’, iProspect’s research initiative that takes a deep look at how women across different emerging markets are leveraging technological advancements to reinvent their career trajectory.
Julie Clark, global head of automation revenue and podcast monetization, Spotify
In her role at Spotify, Julie Clark leads the streaming giant’s monetization efforts amid a huge boom in podcasting and spoken word. Previously the vice-president of global programmatic sales at Hearst-owned Core Audience, Clark joined Spotify as the head of programmatic in the Americas. She has led efforts to expand Spotify’s podcast business, enabling advertisers to target listeners hungry for the platform’s vast spoken word library for the first time earlier this year. At the same time, Clark advocates for caution on the use of data and a continued focus on creativity for brands hoping to capitalize on Spotify’s young audiences.
Howard Pyle, senior vice-president of customer experience design, Metlife
Howard Pyle joined MetLife in January 2016, just as the company was preparing to rebrand for the first time in 35 years. He was the first person to take the lead on customer experience design at the insurer and now has a broad remit overseeing CX across all media platforms, including developments in voice and augmented reality.
He joined from IBM, where he worked across a network of design studios and developers. Before that, IBM was his client at OgilvyOne (now part of Ogilvy’s core brand), which he joined in 2010 from TBWA\Digital Arts.
Christopher Desautel, chief digital officer and chief information officer, Berkshire Hathaway
Prior to his role at, Berkshire Hathaway Homestate Companies (BHHC), Christopher Desautel held various leadership positions including senior vice president and chief information officer at SeaBright Holdings, vice president in information technology at Safeco, and global IT Executive at Delphi.
Desautel has over two decades of experience in delivering ways for companies to use to technology to encourage growth, reduce cost, and satisfy customers. He has expertise in business and IT strategy, as well as group startups, digital transformation initiatives and M&A.
After joining BHHC in 2013 as chief information officer, Desautel rose to his current role, in which he is responsible for creating a market-leading customer experience, driving digital transformation initiatives, and leading the information technology group.
Morten Grubak, executive creative director, Vice/Virtue Northern Europe
Morten Grubak was made responsible for the Vice-owned agency’s creative output in the UK and Nordics this year, after working out of Virtue’s Nordic division for two years. During Grubak’s time in Scandinavia, his team picked up eight Cannes Lions – four for his campaign ‘Address the Future’, which aimed to promote virtual clothing collections to sustainability-minded fashionistas. The Dane, who previously plied his trade as an art director at Porsche, True and Adtomic, is credited with transforming Virtue from a content production bolt-on for Vice into an independent creative agency in its own right.
Luke Davies, senior manager of global yield, Reuters
In just over two and half years, Luke Davies went from running the Reuters EMEA ad ops team to leading its newly formed pricing and inventory team globally. His employer credits him with playing an “instrumental role” in transforming how Reuters has delivered year-on-year revenue growth, helping to drive efficiency with the singular goal of improving ad revenue across multiple channels. As the face of the Reuters tech stack, Davies applies analytical rigor to his deep understanding of the ad tech landscape and can translate this to the needs of Reuters. He has previously worked in digital operations roles across a number of organizations including The Economist and The Guardian.
The December issue of The Drum is devoted to the Digerati. Order your copy now and learn about the 100 people we’ve crowned the top digital marketing talent in the world, from Singapore to Silicon Valley, Procter & Gamble to Puma and Lazada to Lego.