Dentsu Appoints Shirli Zelcer to Chief Data and Technology Officer

Steve Simpson joins as President, Data, Audiences and Technology; Shiva Vannavada appointed as President, Data and Technology Solutions

Shirli Zelcer

Chief Data & Technology Officer, dentsu

TOKYO, March 07, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Dentsu (brand: dentsu; Head Office: Dentsu Group Inc.; Location: Tokyo; Representative: President and Global CEO Hiroshi Igarashi) today announced the appointment of Shirli Zelcer as Chief Data and Technology Officer (CDTO), sitting on dentsu’s Group Management Team. In this role, Zelcer will be responsible for all of dentsu’s client-facing data-driven, analytics and technology-enabled products and platforms, driving innovation and sustainable growth for clients.

Dentsu also announced today that Steve Simpson has been appointed as President, Data, Audiences and Technology, dentsu and Shiva Vannavada as President, Data and Technology Solutions, dentsu. Simpson will join the Global Media Practice leadership team to support the development of a winning Media Practice community that delivers continued excellence in its offering to clients, driving client growth and transformation. In his newly created role, Simpson will be responsible for the strategic planning and delivery of a globally-scaled, data-driven and technology-enabled audience platform that drives growth for clients, while Vannavada will focus on creating synergies across product and platforms, AI innovation, analytics and across Dentsu Global Services (DGS).

Zelcer brings over 20 years of experience in analytics and insights, business advisory and organizational design, AI and data science, and cloud and marketing technologies. She was most recently the Global Head of Analytics and Technology at Merkle, where she led a global division of over 5,600 practitioners across the Americas, EMEA, and APAC. In her new role at dentsu, Zelcer will be responsible to innovate the vision, roadmap, development and commercial impact of dentsu’s data and tech strategy across our three core practice areas: Media, CXM and Creative, working closer with Practice leads and Jean Lin, Global President – Global Practices, dentsu. The role will lead a newly formed team brought together from these Practice areas to drive consistency, interoperability and ultimately to deliver growth to dentsu’s clients through more unified capabilities.

Joining from Publicis, in his new role, Simpson will lead a global team of experts from across data management, identity, personalization, media activation and dynamic creative production, and partner with dentsu’s global products and platforms team to integrate and scale the platform across dentsu’s Global Practices.

Simpson will also be accountable for evolving dentsu’s global media delivery platform. Enabled by programmatic media delivery, enriched with 1st, 2nd and 3rd party data, it will leverage dentsu’s leading Merkury products suite to drive client competitiveness.

Having previously served as Global Chief Product and Technology Officer, dentsu Solutions, Vannavada’s expanded responsibilities as President, Data and Technology Solutions will include driving cross-practice and product collaboration, nurturing dentsu’s AI Connective community and leading his team to contribute to tech-enabled solutions and strategy.

“Innovation across data and technology are two of dentsu’s most critical points of differentiation, having led the market for many years in the development, adoption and application of proprietary platforms which give our clients the edge,” said Hiroshi Igarashi, President and Global CEO, dentsu. “We are very proud to appoint Shirli, Steve and Shiva into these new strategic roles which bring together our efforts across the organization, honing our capabilities and ensuring that dentsu and our clients remain at the forefront of innovation.”

The leadership of the broader Data and Tech organization at dentsu includes: Head of Product, Matt Seeley, and Sunil Rao leading Analytics, and Peter Rogers leading Data Platforms. DGS will also now report into Zelcer’s Data and Technology structure and in turn, Zelcer will report into Michael Komasinski, CEO, dentsu Americas & Global President – Data & Technology, dentsu.


“During her time at Merkle, Shirli brought together teams from around the world to collaborate on vital programs, ranging from data infrastructure implementation to advanced media mix modeling, personalization strategies and the development of bespoke AI solutions,” commented Michael Komasinski, CEO, dentsu Americas & Global President – Data & Technology, dentsu. “With her vast experience of successfully partnering with clients, alongside a proven ability to solve business challenges with cutting-edge technology solutions, I’m truly excited to see the impact that Shirli will have in her new expanded global role at dentsu.”

“It is a very exciting prospect to move into this new role at a time when not only is dentsu at a pivotal moment in its history, but data and technology have never evolved at a faster pace,” remarked Shirli Zelcer, Chief Data and Technology Officer, dentsu. “As a group, we have already made some big moves into AI over the last few years, but I truly see the combination of AI with dentsu proprietary and partner technologies as a major differentiator for our clients. I’m looking forward to broadening the impact I can have across dentsu and working closely with the talented leaders and teams across our tech community.”

Steve Simpson, President, Data, Audiences and Technology, dentsu, said: “I am thrilled to join dentsu at this exciting time of transformation and innovation. Data and technology are at the heart of the media industry and the integrated opportunity across Practices at dentsu in vast. I look forward to working with the talented teams throughout dentsu to build a world-class platform that will deliver value and innovation for our clients, helping them achieve their business goals.”

Shiva Vannavada, President, Data and Technology Solutions, dentsu, commented: “Since I began my journey at dentsu, we have been actively planning our future with AI and I am excited to take on this new expanded remit as we enter into what will undoubtedly be a transformational year for AI and the products and solutions we build using it. At dentsu, we don’t consider AI as a standalone technology, it is part of the fabric of our data, technology and product capabilities, ingrained into every practice and present in every agency brand. This makes us naturally more collaborative, more integrated and faster to market for our clients, and I look forward to working with teams across dentsu to break new ground in what is possible across data and tech for our clients.”

About dentsu

Dentsu is the network designed for what’s next, helping clients predict and plan for disruptive future opportunities and create new paths to growth in the sustainable economy. Taking a people-centered approach to business transformation, we use insights to connect brand, content, commerce and experience, underpinned by modern creativity. As part of Dentsu Group Inc. (Tokyo: 4324; ISIN: JP3551520004), we are headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, and our 71,000-strong employee base of dedicated professionals work across four regions (Japan, Americas, EMEA and APAC). Dentsu combines Japanese innovation with a diverse, global perspective to drive client growth and to shape society.


Matt Cross
Phone: +442074306319

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