CEO Today - Global Awards 2024


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- INTRODUCTION - CEO T O D A Y GLOBAL A W A R D S 2 0 2 4 Welcome to the latest edition of the CEO Today Global Awards 2024, where we celebrate the exceptional achievements and innovative leadership of the world’s top executives. This year’s awards highlight a distinguished group of leaders who have not only navigated their companies through challenging times but have also set new benchmarks for excellence in their respective industries. Our main front cover image features Elaine Kerr, CEO of DPD, whose visionary leadership and strategic foresight have positioned DPD as a frontrunner in the logistics sector. Elaine’s commitment to sustainability and innovation has not only enhanced operational efficiency but also set a new standard for the industry. Inside this issue, we feature Kirk Arthur, the driving force behind Microsoft’s robust security strategies. Kirk’s expertise has solidified Microsoft’s reputation as a cybersecurity leader, safeguarding data and empowering digital confidence. We also spotlight Jason Holland, Chief Business Officer of Firework, who has revolutionised digital media with his dynamic approach to video commerce. Jason’s innovative solutions have transformed brand engagement, setting a new standard for interactive shopping experiences. Diane Wang, the trailblazing founder, chairperson and CEO of DHGATE Group, is recognised for pioneering e-commerce. Diane’s vision has created global trade opportunities for millions of SMEs, fostering a more inclusive global marketplace. From the legal and financial consultancy world, Paula Field, CEO of Lucrum Legal Accounting, stands out for her dedication to comprehensive, client-centric services. Paula’s expertise has helped countless businesses navigate complex financial landscapes with confidence. In research and consulting, Prof. Emmanuel Lamptey, CEO of Envaserv Research Consult, is honoured for his significant contributions to environmental research and sustainable development. Dr. Lampty’s work shapes policies and practices promoting environmental stewardship. Finally, we recognise James Radford, CEO of Trust Consulting Services, whose strategic acumen and leadership have driven significant growth and innovation in the consulting industry. James’s commitment to excellence has earned Trust Consulting Services a reputation for outstanding results. These are just a few of the many exceptional leaders featured in this edition. Also included are Bruce Flatt of Brookfield, Oliver Blume of Volkswagen Group, Hazeem Sultan Al Suwaidi of Borouge Plc, Margherita Della Valle of Vodafone, and Karen Lynch of CVS Health. As we celebrate their remarkable achievements, we are reminded of the transformative power of visionary leadership, sustainability, and the enduring impact of innovation. Join us in honouring their achievements and be inspired by their stories of success and resilience. Congratulations to all our award winners! CEO Today Global Awards 2024 - 5 -

ELAINE KERR DPD UK KIRK ARTHUR Microsoft JASON HOLLAND Firework PAULA FIELD Lucrum Legal Accounting JAMES W. RADFORD Trust Consulting Services Inc. 8 14 18 26 30


In this exclusive interview with Elaine Kerr, CEO of DPD Group UK Ltd, we delve into the remarkable journey that DPD has embarked on towards sustainability. Elaine discusses the company’s significant investments in electric delivery vans, the use of biofuels like HVO for their HGV fleet, and the generation of power through solar panels. With an ambitious target to achieve net zero emissions by 2040, DPD has become one of the first parcel carriers in the UK to receive accreditation from the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). Elaine also highlights the company’s impressive strides in electrifying its fleet, reducing CO2 emissions with HVO, and embracing innovative initiatives like robot deliveries. Join us as we explore DPD’s commitment to sustainability, its strategies for aligning growth with environmental consciousness, and its vision for a greener and more inclusive future. CEO Today Global Awards 2024 - UNITED KINGDOM - - 8 -

CEO of DPD UK KERR LAINE Elaine, could you discuss the journey DPD UK has embarked on towards sustainability, particularly with your significant investment in electric delivery vans and biofuel such as HVO (hydrotreated vegetable oil) for your HGV fleet and in generating power through solar panels? A company of our size clearly has an impact on the environment, and we don’t want to shy away from that fact. We believe that not only do we have an obligation to be more environmentally conscious, but we can be leaders in it. Consequently, our parent company Geopost submitted an ambitious target to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) to be net zero by 2040, which applies to us, too. This has been validated, making us one of the first parcel carriers in the UK to have such accreditation. THE UK’S LEADING TRANSPORT & LOGISTICS EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR CEO Today Global Awards 2024 - UNITED KINGDOM - - 9 -

CEO Today Global Awards 2024 - 10 - - UNITED KINGDOM - The biggest impact we can make is by electrifying our delivery fleet. In 2020 we only had around 800 electric vehicles (EVs). Now we’ve got over 3,600, and we aim to hit 4,000 this year. There are currently about 55,000 electric vans on the roads in the UK – this means DPD operate around 6.5% of all of the electric vans on British roads. We’re incredibly proud of this stat. On top of that, 95% of all of our HGVs are now powered by hydrogenated vegetable oil (HVO), a diesel replacement which reduces CO2e by up to 90%, which I’m sure you can imagine makes a huge impact at our scale. We’ve also invested over £2 million to install more than 18,500 solar panels across 21 of our sites, and we even provide excess energy generated this way back to the national grid. Finally, one of our most exciting developments in the past 18 months has been rolling out robot deliveries. We ran a trial in Milton Keynes to see if we could get more vans off the road by having robots deliver parcels autonomously, and it’s been such a huge success that we’re rolling it out to 10 more locations across the country. In your role as CEO of DPD UK, what strategies do you employ to align the company’s rapid growth with the pursuit of an environmentally sustainable delivery network, especially considering the additional costs associated with ‘green’ technologies? When it comes to transforming a company to going green, our view is that either we invest to lead the way now or we’re forced to play catch-up years later. The climate crisis won’t wait. For many years we’ve had our 1-2-3 Strategy: to deliver the best service money can buy, to use the best technology available, and to recruit, retain, and develop the most customer-centric people in the industry. In 2020, we added a fourth pillar: to be the UK’s leader in sustainable delivery. We made this crucial change to put sustainability at the heart of everything we do. An example of this is our carbon budget. A big milestone to being net zero by 2040 is seeing a 43% reduction in “In 2020 we only had around 800 electric vehicles (EVs). Now we’ve got over 3,600, and we aim to hit 4,000 this year.”

CEO Today Global Awards 2024 - 11 - - UNITED KINGDOM - emissions by 2030. To ensure the company leadership is always considering this we introduced our carbon budget in 2023 – that is, how much CO2 we can allow ourselves to emit. Our carbon budget is tracked monthly and reported at every board meeting. All 10 members of our Senior Leadership Team are targeted to find carbon savings every year. You are on track to have a 100% EV final mile collection and delivery fleet by 2030; this would be a remarkable achievement given the scale of DPD’s operation; assuming you reach your target, what will this mean to you personally as a leader who has, forgive the pun, ‘driven’ the green agenda at DPD? I’m incredibly proud of all that we’ve accomplished in electrifying our fleet and being able to see 100% of our final mile collection and delivery go electric would be a huge victory, not just for us, but for the environment. I want DPD to be a leader in sustainability and for us to forge the way in building a more green future. This isn’t just my achievement, though – I want to give credit to all of our teams for being able to make this happen. With several ongoing innovations focused on sustainability, I understand you have also developed an incubator programme to help foster and create new green technologies and initiatives. Could you share how this initiative functions and highlight any innovative projects that have emerged from the programme? Absolutely. It’s called the ‘EcoLaunchpad’ programme, where we reach out to experts in sustainability, technology, and innovation to develop and test new ideas that can help us further reduce our carbon footprint. Our goal was to invite tech startups to present their innovations and show how they could help DPD become more sustainable. We specifically searched for companies specialising in the decarbonisation of buildings, transport, and delivery. We also had a wildcard category where we invited companies to surprise us with technology and robotics that could challenge our thinking in this space and facilitate a digital transformation. We’ve had an overwhelming response since June – 580 applications, narrowed down to a shortlist of 20 companies. We chose five winners who will take part in a ten-week “95% of all of our HGVs are now powered by hydrogenated vegetable oil (HVO), a diesel replacement which reduces CO2e by up to 90%”

CEO Today Global Awards 2024 - 12 - - UNITED KINGDOM - immersive programme to validate their solutions, accessing DPD’s resources, expertise, and mentoring. The technologies being trialled range from faster EV charging to deploying robots in our warehouses. This initiative led to us recently winning the ‘Supply Chain Innovation’ award at the recent Retail Technology Innovation Hub (RTIH) awards. Sustainability is clearly integral to DPD’s ethos. How have you fostered a company culture that embraces progressive initiatives and supports this vision so that it is a success? We are passionate about making DPD a happy, inclusive high-performance environment where our people can flourish. Central to DPD’s social policy is its commitment to be a workplace where everyone feels safe, equal, included, and accepted. Employers who respect the unique needs and potential of their teams outpace their competitors, earning deeper trust and more commitment from their people. There are several ways that we promote these principles, such as our highly-visual ‘This is Us’ book, about to enter its fifth edition, which details our values. We share this with all of our people. We also appointed volunteer Energy Champions at all sites to promote sustainability awareness and to identify CO2 savings opportunities, from switching off lights to turning the heating down a degree. Beyond your green vision and as a leader, how are you fostering an open, honest, and inclusive company culture at DPD UK? Why do you believe this is essential for the company’s success? Inclusivity is really important to us, and those aren’t just words. We want to have the best people possible at DPD, and a diverse workforce is crucial to that. One initiative we’re all really proud of is our ‘Inspire’ programme. This is where we’ve invested over £320,000 in hiring young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). When these incredible young people turn 25, government funding simply stops outright, making it hard for them to support themselves. Because of this less than 5% of people with learning disabilities find themselves in full-time employment. These are bright, enthusiastic people who just want to get on with their lives without barriers being put in their way, and so we were keen to welcome them to the DPD family. Mental health has entered the public consciousness over the last few years, and DPD offers support to your employees through the Mental Health Hub. How does this contribute to creating a supportive work environment, and what feedback have you received from employees about this initiative? In 2021 we launched our ‘Healthy Minds’ campaign, investing £30,000 to train volunteers to become Mental Health First Aiders, focused on supporting frontline employees, such as drivers and warehouse operatives. We also delivered mandatory Mental Health Awareness training to our top 1,500 managers and produce weekly bulletins for all our people on topics such as overcoming loneliness, menopause awareness, and coping with bereavement. “We are passionate about making DPD a happy, inclusive high-performance environment where our people can flourish.”

CEO Today Global Awards 2024 - 13 - - UNITED KINGDOM - Given the scale of innovation ongoing at DPD, as we have already touched on, are there further innovations that will make for a better experience for DPD customers? The EcoLaunchpad I spoke about before is a gateway to some incredible innovations that are going to revolutionise how we work. I mentioned earlier that we have a 1-2-3-4 Strategy: the second of these pillars is to use the best technology available. The innovations we’re pioneering are going to be vital in supporting our transition to being net zero by 2040. Finally, we’re conscious that customers with mobility issues might struggle to get to the door quickly when a delivery arrives. Because of that, we’ve introduced a new ‘More Time Needed’ feature to our app, which notifies our drivers that they should dedicate extra time to waiting for a customer to receive their parcel. All of these things go together to create the best possible experience for our customers As part of DPD’s growth strategy, DPD recently acquired CitySprint and Absolutely. Although a smaller part of DPD’s operations, how will this acquisition contribute to the company’s overall strategy and what operational benefits will it bring? As part of our parent group Geopost, we have a powerful combination of services to support customers throughout the year. For example, CitySprint supported DPD throughout Peak, our busiest time of the year, with additional collection resources. Having this level of expertise within our group means we can react quickly to changing circumstances and provide our customers with the best possible delivery service, 52 weeks of the year. Looking ahead, how will your vision evolve for DPD UK’s future in terms of both the company culture and its people, environmental sustainability, and not forgetting its customers? The thing that makes us proud of our achievements is how well we adapt to a changing world. As the realities of climate change become more known, we’ve been bold in leading the transformation that the private sector needs to see. We’re going to continue to evolve as technology advances and gives us the ability to be more sustainable, whether it’s deploying our robots to more of our depots, continuing to electrify our fleet, or even supporting our people in installing EV charging ports at their own homes. On top of that, we also want DPD to be the most inclusive place to work in the UK, and once again we’re proud to have led the way here. We want all of Team DPD to feel able to bring their authentic selves to work, and our inclusivity victories have led to us creating a 16-page booklet where we share our strategies on how to create a diverse workplace with other businesses. We feel we’re creating a model for what diversity truly looks like in a modern company.

CEO Today has been joined by Kirk Arthur, the Worldwide Government Solutions Lead at Microsoft. In this interview, Kirk shares with us what his role involves and how advanced technology is transforming government operations and being integrated for public safety initiatives. Kirk shared his strategic approach towards leadership and how the collaborations with governments function. Technology is continually advancing and there are more ways in which it can be used effectively. Kirk’s vision for technology within governments is centred on improving productivity and enhancing solutions, learn how this could be done and how Kirk and his team are managing this. CEO Today Global Awards 2024 - USA - - 14 -

KIRK ARTHUR Worldwide Government Solutions Lead at Microsoft Kirk, could you start by telling us about your journey to becoming the Worldwide Government Solutions Lead at Microsoft? What inspired you to pursue this role - you’ve previously worked in the U.S. Secret Service’s Presidential Protective Division so your current role would appear to be a significant change of direction? I enjoyed a wonderful career as a Special Agent with the United States Secret Service. In addition to my time serving on the Presidential Protective Division, I also led Electronic Crimes Task Forces in Seattle and San Francisco. My teams were responsible for conducting data breach investigations and working with our global law enforcement partners to bring those responsible to justice. In this capacity, we worked with Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit and I was always impressed with their expertise and capabilities. Could you share with the reader what Microsoft’s vision is within the scope of your role? I am part of Microsoft’s Worldwide Government Industry team. We are a group of former government workers whose roles are to showcase how Microsoft’s incredible technology capabilities can help governments deliver more efficient and secure services to the people and communities they service. This is through our Microsoft Office Suite, as well as with our Business Applications and Azure cloud platforms that can support every aspect of a government’s mission. With such a vast scale to your role what does a typical day look like for you? This is one of the most exciting parts about working at Microsoft. With my team’s global remit, I get to interact with colleagues across the globe, meet with government customers, and engage with our great network of partners who are incorporating our platform capabilities into their solutions. I have the privilege of hosting government delegations here in Redmond, Washington; or meeting with them at conferences and events around the world. What are some of the most significant challenges you face in developing and implementing government solutions on a global scale? Are there common obstacles that you encounter that run across all implementation initiatives? As we all know, the role and responsibilities of governments are vast and complex – whether national ministries or LEADERSHIP EXCELLENCE IN GOVERNMENT SOLUTIONS TECHNOLOGY CEO Today Global Awards 2024 - USA - - 15 -

departments focusing on the safety and health of the entire nation, or local and regional government focusing on delivering effective local services to the people and communities they serve. Some of the biggest obstacles is understanding where to start when thinking about adopting new, cloud-enabled technologies; and understanding the required security, governance, and compliance to deploy these services. Given the sometimes antiquated and diverse systems in government operations, how do you approach integrating Microsoft’s modern technology solutions with these existing infrastructures without causing significant disruption and push back? For me, developing a strong public-private partnership is critical to the success of any government. The conversations we have is centred around maximizing the performance and capabilities of what you’ve invested in, but collaborating on the art of the possible with an eye towards the future where cloud-based workloads can be implemented to further optimize service performance, as well as improve cyber resilience and improve uptime availability of critical system How has the integration of advanced technologies like AI and cloud computing transformed government operations and public safety initiatives under your leadership? AI has been around for decades but has really evolved over the past 10 years. I couldn’t be more excited about what AI already means for governments by helping to provide better public services such as call automation and optimization, better efficiencies for coordinated social care, and helping to identify, mitigate, and investigate program fraud. Now with Azure OpenAI Service and our Copilot, the enhancements are going to be dramatically improved and really impact the productivity and efficiency of government. Can you describe how Microsoft collaborates with different governments? What does the process of tailoring solutions to meet diverse governmental and cultural needs entail? In addition to my group, we have dedicated teams around the world focusing on helping them to digitally transform. This is very much a never-ending journey for us and we want to always meet our government customers where they’re at in their digital maturation. We very much like to share best practices between governments because no matter what country you’re in, governments have a very common mission. Could you share a particularly successful project or initiative that Microsoft has undertaken for a government entity under your leadership? One of the most exciting engagements I’ve been a part of over the years has been our continued engagements with court systems around the world. Courts have historically relied on in-person hearings and procedures to conduct their business. However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to change their approach. Today, some of the world’s largest judicial systems have either adopted, or are adopting, a hybrid hearings capability that can accommodate remote proceedings. This has been amazing to watch and the Orange County Superior Court in California embodies the importance of adopting new technologies to ensure access to justice for everyone. As a leader, what core principles guide your approach to managing such a dynamic and critical sector within Microsoft? I have always been a mission-focused person and this drives me today. Our technology, and the solutions we For me, developing a strong public-private partnership is critical to the success of any government. CEO Today Global Awards 2024 - USA - - 16 -

deliver with our partners, must have a material impact for our government customers in how they deliver core services within their community. Their responsibilities are so vast, and the demands on them so great, that we must work with them to meet their goals and the expectations of those who rely on them. Finally, what is your vision for the future of Microsoft’s Government Solutions, and what impact do you hope to achieve in the coming years? These are incredible times in technology as Large Language Models (LLMs) rapidly mature. My vision is to see governments at all levels incorporate these capabilities into their dayto-day operations. The ones who do will see an incredible increase in the productivity and efficiency of their staff, as well as improved scalability to deliver solutions that help to improve the lives of those they serve. I couldn’t be more excited about what AI already means for governments by helping to provide better public services such as call automation and optimization, better efficiencies for coordinated social care, and helping to identify, mitigate, and investigate program fraud. CEO Today Global Awards 2024 - USA - - 17 -

JASON HOLLAND Chief Business Officer Firework VIDEO COMMERCE LEADER OF THE YEAR Recently, Jason Holland, Chief Business Officer at Firework, joined us to share the story of the cutting-edge work being done at a company that brings personalized experiences to online customers through video commerce. Jason tells us how this is done and how Firework has created a personalized way for shoppers and retailers to engage with each other through their websites. Hear about the exciting innovations that Firework have announced and the leadership approach that has led Jason to his success. Contact: Jason Holland LI: CEO Today Global Awards 2024 - USA - - 18 -

Jason, can you explain the work at Firework and how using video and technology can help build a relationship between the brand and the consumer? Consumers today require greater authenticity, access, and inspiration. They want it delivered organically, addressing an overall degradation in trust. Technology can be the enabler. It’s widely accepted among businesses - especially marketers - that consumers have changed how they embrace brands they love and demonstrate loyalty (B2C), or the partners they engage to support business functions (B2B) for evolving reasons, compared to previous decades. Solving for this long-term shift in consumer behavior applies to those in C-Suite and leadership roles responsible for innovating change across their organization, as well as to the specialists on their teams who lead product, product marketing, go-to-market strategy, data driven insights, and commercial execution. Consumer sentiment via net promoter scores (NPS) and the overall purchase journey have evolved in recent years as well, due to factors such as COVID, technological improvements in professional and user generated content production (including GenAI), and the platforms where people are accessing that content to make inspired, informed buying decisions. Video commerce, livestream, 1:1 video clienteling, enabled with AI innovations across video product suites, and the impact these utilities are having on the connected networks retailers and brands now share, cross-pollinating and monetizing content and commerce in the equally burgeoning sector of retail media, are unlocking the most effective means to inspire, engage, and convert these evolving customer decision making and education needs. Video is also now the primary way we communicate with others, be it 1:1 conversations with friends and family or driving 10x engagement KPIs by embedding inspirational video tailored directly toward the specific buying behavior of a particular loyal customer cohort into email campaigns, bolstering omnichannel effectiveness. Short, shoppable video building into customer passions in environments where purchase intent is highest, enables frictionless content consumption and purchase capacity that wasn’t previously accessible to shoppers. Bytedance with Douyin applied these innovations and thrived in China, but couldn’t achieve the same conversion with TikTok in the US, UK, and western markets. Technology and commerce media adoption within countries that were previously less developed but have grown rapidly in GDP due to exponentially increasing populations, have seemingly advanced implementation faster than some western markets, where economic growth, market maturity, and the subsequent fragmentation have been the inhibitors to rapid adoption. Whether one believes this to be true or not, the fact is that markets like China and India evolved infrastructure with intense speed. Most of what we are used to in a market like the UK or US never existed there, so the future of video and commerce combined, for example, began in its infancy with content adoption in these emerging markets that is now perhaps ahead of everyone: Alibaba with Taobao Live & Tmall,, Pinduoduo, Kuaishou, and Douyin (TikTok’s Chinese sister, owned by ByteDance) which reported an annual GMV growth rate in 2023 of 277%, control nearly all content consumption AND shopping in China, mainly through livestream where blended e-commerce is also the primary source of entertainment and inspiration, creating what could easily be described as the birthplace of traditional e-commerce merging with livestream, social, and video commerce. Notably, last November’s Singles’ Day shopping festival (the largest shopping day in the world; bigger than Black Friday and Amazon’s Prime Day combined, according to Forbes) saw traditional e-commerce platforms like Tmall, and Pinduoduo contract by 1.1% on the year (to $128.6 billion), but live commerce platforms Taobao Live, Kuaishou, and Douyin had GMV spikes of 18.5% (to $29.7 billion), both staggering sales numbers for one day and representative of the exponentially growing revenue generating power video commerce platforms can yield. Firework has an advantage in that its Founders were raised in China as well, witnessing these content and shopper mediums evolve first-hand. Combining that exposure with world-class product development, engineering, and fundraising capacity, as well as a business thesis acknowledging the need to seamlessly merge bifurcated points of media consumption and e-commerce transaction in the US, Firework’s early-stage interactive video products accelerated beyond zero-to-one, establishing a foundation for the video commerce market we know here today. Driven by a desire to work at the forefront of video innovation serving as the catalyst to merge SaaS technology, marketer, e-commerce, media, customer, and now, AI, I joined the company early on in 2020, making my own investments into its cap table along the way. One core remit existing as a common denominator across the early-stage teams that I’ve been fortunate to hire, build, grow, and lead unlocks the key precursor to the primary question above, pertaining to “video and technology helping to build a relationship between the brand and the consumer.” When a rapidly emerging technology with the power to effectuate exponentially positive results as measured by the current baseline of performance metric(s) becomes commercially viable, education begins with building a foundationally strong partnership between the developer (Firework) and the initial adopter (Retailers and Brands). Understanding the pain points of our prospective clients and how they were trying to solve them, while also doing the research and making decisions of our own relative to the pain points, wants, and needs of consumers CEO Today Global Awards 2024 - USA - - 19 -

themselves, was critical in establishing trust and creating a dialogue which exists on the same plane. We also had to look at the markets where video commerce had moved substantially beyond zero-to-one and began to dominate communication between brands and shoppers, which meant understanding the nuances between economies, cultures, tech evolution, adoption propensity, and the pool of financially viable resources capable of building systems which didn’t have an archetype in our market and would need to be integrated, then deployed differently. This was where the addition of our CTO, Rick Zhuang, was key. Prior to joining Firework, Rick was the Head of Engineering at Alibaba, where he led the development of and essentially created their Tmall Retail and Taobao Live Content Platforms. At this stage, Firework had assembled the must-have trifecta in operating an ultra-high growth capacity technology company capable of fueling creativity, revolutionizing sectors, and influencing our everyday experiences: Being extremely well capitalized, having access to product and engineering resources with an exceptionally high output means, and successfully integrating them with nonlinear commercialization and strategy operators capable of bringing our video commerce suite to life with prospective clients. Within that core, we built the connective tissue of strategic partners, customer success experts, data and analytics systems, product marketers, and business unit infrastructures required to accelerate customer adoption (SaaS ARR) and retention (NRR) across enterprise and SMB markets; all required to yield sustained, exponential revenue growth across our video commerce product and service portfolio. Key differentiators for Firework have been in developing technologies representative of the best in shopper inspiration, engagement, and conversion through video, while making them efficiently deployable for clients by way of creating measurable ROI, ensuring ease of implementation, building a proprietary CMS with its own content creation and editing suite, then committing thorough training, reporting, testing ground, and customer support. Critical from a go-to-market strategy and ideal customer profile (ICP) identification perspective, was recognizing that consumers in western markets shop differently than in China and other hyper-emerging markets that are mobile-born. In the US, UK, and most western markets, 90%+ of all retail and brand product or service transactions online still take place within that marketer’s owned digital assets. Firework technology is deployable across their website destinations (homepage, category pages, PDPs) and is enabled for both desktop and mobile platforms, while mobile iOS and Android SDKs integrate with their app (where the majority of traffic and GMV are generated for large strategic and enterprise clients). This way, the retailer or brand becomes the centre of its own ecosystem prior to the content distribution out and across its omnichannel network, including social channels. This reverses a trend originally consistent with a brand’s video living in social channels first, but there is a challenge in that these are outlets they don’t own and can have difficulty controlling, creating risk if an algorithm is adjusted, for example, in favor of their competitor paying a higher premium to target your customers. Referring to a retailer’s website or app consisting of different sections, Firework designed products to enhance and personalize the digital video shopping experience throughout that funnel: 1:1 Video Clienteling, Digital Showrooms (where always-on or cadenced, scheduled livestreams exist or can be pre-recorded, then leverage an AI layer so they remain live in perpetuity), Interactive video tools for short, shoppable videos (again, on the actual company website or in their app, where purchase intent is strongest). Directly from the video within a retailer’s app, a consumer can toggle sizes, colors, add to the cart, or make a purchase. The keys are in making this experience fun, inspirational, and the purchase frictionless. The relationship between brand and consumer will also become infinite: Always on, fully customized, and 100% knowledgeable. Enter GenAI and LLMs. Firework launched its v1 AI product in January 2024, called AVA. AVA is a customizable AI-rendered digital human shopping assistant, built to look, sound, and engage any customer exactly as if the shopper was browsing a store with their best friend. But, unlike most best friends, AVA is programmed with every piece of information that exists within the company’s back end: Product details, comparisons, pricing, consumer market knowledge, loyalty cohort and segmentation data, etc. In an app with sign-in functionality, AVA can digest everything about your purchase behavior in a hashed, anonymized state, knowing what you buy from the store that she’s helping you shop within, and what styles to recommend next. CEO Today Global Awards 2024 - USA - - 20 -

- 21 - Video technology itself is the foundation which underpins the entire connected future shopping experience. Bifurcated walls driving separation are gone, harmonizing agency direct or programmatic media buying capacity, connecting consumers with merged access to entertainment and commerce across the retailers and brands who create products or services and the web publishers or social content platforms where consumers are also spending vast amounts of time. Integrating the power of video as the core marketing medium among emerging unified commerce technologies, enabling instantaneous cloud-based customer data and information networks in an all-encompassing resource, with personalized communication made possible by leveraging a 360 view of your customer across every touchpoint, will be core to any business seeking to gain share of wallet, enrich the definition of loyalty, and create with their shoppers by of way inspired affinity that isn’t easily degraded. These are the reasons why the global video commerce market has been experiencing significant growth. In 2022, the market was valued at approximately USD 526.72 billion. It is projected to expand considerably, reaching an estimated value of USD 2.79 trillion by 2028. This rapid growth is indicative of the increasing popularity of video commerce as a retail strategy and its potential to reshape the shopping experience in the coming years. The market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 32% during the forecast period from 2023 to 2028 and by 2030 video commerce is predicted to be the leading omnichannel conversion medium. Tell us what your leadership style can be described as, with your wealth of experience in these roles, what have you learned works best and how has this guided you in your role at Firework? My leadership style is guided by several principles which have always been present across my life and are continually evolving; authenticity, active listening, curiosity, empathy, and dynamic exposure to overcoming challenges or hardships (lifehacking, if you will). I would never aspire to be the smartest person in the room, as I believe it’s an isolationist concept alienating valuable contribution. Quiet confidence as a leader, with vocal, visible, shared recognition for the contributions of individuals and teams working with me at any level across all departments, business units, and regions are qualities I’m humbly proud to embrace. I believe in thoughtful communication, honesty, active listening, research, defined expectations, especially amid rapidly iterating environments, and a willingness to lead flexibly based on the dynamic needs of the customer, company, and those who support it. Having a strong grasp on my own leadership strengths and weaknesses has been valuable at Firework, as meaningful institutional investment into a business capable of developing innovation that alters paradigms within an industry identified by analysts as potentially among the most explosive over decades to come can attract some of the world’s top contributors, a diverse crosssection of leadership styles, and starkly varying cultural philosophies. As a means to embracing these assets at Firework, I’ve worked aggressively to promote systems of accurate contribution assessment across all global teams, 360 review and calibration assessments encompassing a diverse cross-section of leader and peers, as well as my commitment to the company as an Executive Sponsor to its Culture Committee. In an environment defined by fluidity, I often ask questions of my team members, especially in situations where a solution isn’t finite, such as: “I’m not sure how we’re going to solve this problem, but you have expertise in this area, what would you do?” Dialogue rooted in recognition for every individual’s capacity to leverage their own experience and expertise is valuable in unlocking each team member’s full potential and willingness to contribute, which makes periods defined by unfixed variables and vast change feel as if there are always constants capable of meaningful engagement among us. A leader with teams who are willing to proactively lean forward with contribution

in scenarios not requiring a comment or response has succeeded in ensuring his or her teams feel empowered. This is particularly valuable at Firework because we’re often working in a field that’s defining itself as we create it. So, the contribution from any and all, across examples such PLG and SLG implementation best practice, demand gen, feedback on pricing structures, product questions or concerns shared by clients that can serve as invaluable in adjusting our processes, etc. It’s communication that’s critical. I tap into having a strong EQ and a desire to share my personal experiences, both positive and negative, with the people I want to inspire. I have no issue admitting a mistake I’ve made, as I believe the humility derived from shared imperfection enables trust. Whether it’s a client, colleague, or investor, I seek to understand the goals, objectives, and values of others, acknowledging that while we may not agree, there’s merit in constantly broadening perspective. I am willing to have difficult discussions with my peers, which at times include heartfelt topics relating to or impacting an individual’s sense of self-worth, character, decision making, or earning capacity. These are instances where empathy is key, while the best leaders are also capable of reminding themselves that the greater good of the company must come first in all respects. Having aspirations as aggressive as Firework’s, these become important assets a leader can tap into when required. Pragmatic experiences in media, technology, commerce, and data, combined with having had amazing Founders as mentors prior to joining Firework, has also been an advantage worth leveraging. My leadership style blends an understanding of commercial growth (obtaining new customers, yielding ARR or media revenue, while growing with existing clients supporting healthy NRR) with operational mechanics core to running a profitable business (efficient net cash burn, aggressively managed Op/CapEx, properly negotiated vendor partnerships with shared upside, etc), and a love of building into those around me. If I were ever to be considered an “A Player” as an Executive, I would quickly cite having only been able to get there by way of surrounding myself with “A+ Players.” I find that immersing myself with talented, spirited peers is far more impactful and rewarding than taking the credit for any given achievement myself, and I have no fear of being overshadowed because I prefer it. I’ve been fortunate to witness some of the best applied leadership principles, as well as what I would consider to be extremely poor leadership demonstrations as well. I believe that maintaining a keen awareness of the examples set by those around us is core to shaping who we become as a leader. To me, the most positive leadership attributes often align with the mission and principles of the company. For this to remain true, a business must maintain core values worthy of replication: Transformative in nature, penchants for elevating and building into people, products, or concepts which support the identified needs of customers, and a demeanor anchored in respect for everyone, regardless of how you may feel they’ve treated you. I also consider myself fortunate to have witnessed examples of poor leadership practices. I believe leadership shortfalls resulting in deeply negative employee sentiment overall as a function of broken culture will impact businesses more holistically in the future, ranking in equal reputation as defined by customers. Poorly aligned core values of founders and leaders, previously most akin to degrading the culture of a company from within, resulting in a high regrettable turnover, will begin to impact its earnings by way of external customer churn. Many enterprise companies, often publicly traded with brand equity to protect and share of wallet to grow, are adding “value-based” criteria to their supply chain partnership assessments. These cultural and employee sentiment scoring systems applied across their partner portfolio will increasingly influence decision making, as in B2B the reputation of one company becomes more transparently impacted by the “company” they keep, - 22 -

CEO Today Global Awards 2024 - USA - - 23 - and the connected B2C sector is proving meaningfully with data that shoppers are gravitating more toward products or services produced by companies where ethical or moral values are shared with them across the board. All these principles bring valuable exposure as they promote adaptation. They also apply regardless of company size or whether the business is growing or contracting. In my role prior to Firework, I had the opportunity to spend 4 years as the Chief Operating Officer of a global media conglomerate, where I was privileged to lead financial and operational restructuring via turnaround, which contracted headcount by more than 50% but returned the company to profitability. We did this by understanding how to get more from what we already had or discarding that which didn’t drive measurable ROI. We also re-established and innovated across digital and social content platforms, much of which included more efficiently produced video, positioned as a collection of top media buying and affiliate commerce destinations for agencies on behalf of their clients and brands. At Firework in my role as CBO, the opposite of a turnaround has been true, such that the business accelerates products from zero-to-one into key ARR driving SaaS product lines utilizing non-linear, sustainable, exponential growth strategies. This requires a deep appreciation for product road mapping and prioritisation, well-managed net cash burn, and a keen understanding of each contributor on every team’s expertise. That unlocks the capacity to define expected quarterly yield and contribution capacity via OKRs, which is pivotal in leading resource planning, defining departmental budgets, revenue forecasting, etc with P&Ls spanning diverse Country Operations. The key for me as a leader has been applying these business fundamentals with accuracy and flexibility (amid constant product and strategy iteration required of a high-growth company) while ensuring the company doesn’t lose touch with the cultural nuances equally contributing to its success. These key qualitative attributes each employee brings as a uniquely special person are so valuable to not only recognize, but leverage and reward, to bring the communication of learnings, service shortfalls, and customer best practices across borders for the greater benefit of the company and its global, enterprise clients. The near future will yield increasingly lucrative opportunities for businesses to win market share from those who remain reliant on dated operational techniques or oversight known to be slow, bureaucratic, indecisive, and who struggle with applying speed in decision making. Lacking the integration of these transformational pillars will increasingly put those companies at risk of diminished market position, have impact on innovation investments, and contribute to cultural indifference that lowers the engagement of everyone. My appetite for calculated risk, desire to share, and drive accelerated operational, financial, and reputational transformation among the most opportunistic businesses are governed by these leadership experiences. As a leader at such an exciting time in technological advancement, I want to continue unlocking competitive edge through growth hacking in areas where companies have distinct market advantages. The leadership and philosophical business attributes overall that I’ve acquired at Firework are invaluable, especially as they pertain to extreme speed, constant iteration, and decisive decision making. I feel so fortunate to have been able to lead and excel here. The distinction of being recognised by way of this award, as a leader owing so much credit back to the amazing people on my teams, is such an honor. I’ll carry that forward with humility as I endeavor around future leadership roles that I’m fortunate enough to influence with ultra-high growth capacity firms; privileged to have participated and excelled among one of the most progressive and heavily invested markets of the foreseeable future in video commerce and AI, within one of silicon valley’s most reputably and deeply institutionally funded, ultra-high growth capacity, technology companies. Why do you think more people are desiring a personalized shopping experience and how does Firework assist with this? Personalization and information access work conjunctively. Exposure breeds curiosity and curiosity drives a desire to engage in terms which are self-defined. These customer remits and expectations can’t be met within a traditional loyal customer cohort and require a more advanced understanding of all the facets of an individual’s motivation or interest in something. True unified commerce systems seek to bring all multifaceted views of any given customer into focus. The power of AI, large language models, and machine learning capable of processing data at speeds and in quantities so much more advanced than ever previously available is

CEO Today Global Awards 2024 - COUNTRY - - 24 - the only way true personalization becomes economically viable for businesses. This is where Firework’s AVA product, along with ChatGPT and more nuanced innovations from technology titans like Google/YouTube, Bytedance/TikTok, Microsoft, and others will drive huge investments from institutional investors and competitive advantage as well. Smaller, more nimble startups (albeit growing rapidly) will also change the connected commerce landscape, as firms like OpenAI, Anthropic, Mistral AI and their exponentially enlarging competitor list will also thrive, but only one or two will ultimately dominate their markets. Just last week, Elon Musk’s generative AI startup, xAI, announced a $6 billion round valuing the company at $24 billion post money, which included several of Silicon Valley’s most prominent Venture Capital and Private Equity firms. Deployed prudently among fiscally responsible leadership who understand their fiduciary duty back to those investors, the combination of the right blend of entrepreneurs, creators, operators, and strategic partnership leaders within these businesses could put them on a trajectory to becoming the next trillion-dollar club market cap member. That’s how influential AI will be across a combined B2C and B2B TAM that’s infinite. The future of video commerce in modern retail is shaping up to be a transformative force as well, integrating advancing technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), but it’s been this market’s investments in AI to enhance and personalize the shopping experience that will accelerate it most. Below are a few key insights into what I think we can expect: E-Commerce Integration: Retailers will continue to integrate video commerce as a core element of their strategy, focusing on creating a seamless customer experience both online and in physical stores, understanding that AI’s contribution to video commerce can drive efficiency across content creation, data-led consumer market knowledge, personalized targeting, and segmentation. Unified commerce software, logistics, supply chain, last mile delivery, media buying, and L&D will also be enriched by these advancements, as well as every other partnership channel they rely on as part of influencing their JBPs. That’s why selecting strategic partners with access to significant capital, top engineering talent, and iterative product portfolios will become even more crucial for enterprise retailers and brands. Omnichannel Shopping & Retail Media: The concept of ‘Phygital’ shopping, which blends physical and digital experiences, is expected to become the norm. This means a connected retail environment where the boundaries between online and offline shopping are blurred. GenAI merging personalized content with RFID for geo-location purposes will play a pivotal role in bringing all touchpoints of a customer’s path to purchase to life more efficiently. As retailers leverage these communication means, the channels through which brands can target them across the retailer’s consumer touchpoints with personalized media expands as well. This will drive the growth and investment in retail media exponentially. Personalization at Scale: Stores of the future will likely offer highly personalized experiences, with AI-created 1:1 digital sales associates embedded within the retailer’s app knowing customer preferences as well as a close friend or personal stylist might. This will include personalized product recommendations and shopping experiences tailored to individual needs at a scale never previously obtainable. Live Commerce: The rise of live commerce, combining e-commerce, live video streaming and AI, will become a must-have within the MMM and KPI measurement to meet the consumer’s desire for an immersive shopping experience and drive loyalty. It allows retailers to showcase their products and interact with customers in real-time. A catalyst will be historically slower adopting markets, potentially similar to the UK and US, shifting budget allocation previously earmarked for high-cost, inefficient, PGC often endorsed by a celebrity for more authentic means of UGC, unlocking content created at scale by leveraging that which can be created and rewarded to loyal customers, in-store sales associates, those with the highest brand affinity, and product or service expertise. Investment in Technology: Significant investments and acquisitions will shift from opening new brick-and-mortar stores to enhancing technology that supports video commerce and other digital shopping experiences, many of which will contain a blended AI functionality. These investments will span markets, including those made by

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