David Pemsel .jpg

David Pemsel

Global CEO at ScienceMagic.Inc and Former CEO at The Guardian Media Group

Speaker Themes

  • Innovation and Disruption

  • Leadership in Uncertainty

  • Building Agility

About David

As Former CEO of Guardian Media Group, David was responsible for the remarkable digital transformation of the business by adopting agile working methodologies and putting data driven, customer centric practices at the heart. This resulted in The Guardian going from a forecast loss of $100m in 2015 to its first operating profit for 25 years in 2019.

Speaker Biography

The three-year business plan to transform the Guardian that David implemented has been described as one of the most significant media turnarounds in recent history and has laid the foundation for how quality journalism could be funded around the world. 

The strategy was built around growing a far deeper set of relationships with its audience, doubling down on it’s purpose, a re-imagining of the journalism, a sustainable business model and a newly focused, data driven, agile, digital organisation that reflected the Guardians independence and its mission.  

David can share what it’s like to lead in a context of constant change, where the only certainty is disruption. He can talk about the turbulent journey from selling newspapers in the UK to a global free-to-access online news organisation that is a source of hope, inspiration and information for millions around the globe.

He describes with extraordinary candour what it's like to face into unprecedented corporate challenges as a leader, the need for constant and transparent dialogue with employees, the introduction of OKR's (objectives and key results) and small cross-divisional teams to encourage fast-paced innovation, the need to lead through purpose and never losing sight of why you exist as an organisation.

He will talk of leading from the front, middle and back and knowing when to step in and when to step back and why leaders have to push themselves to address the issues of inclusivity and diversity.          

David joined GMG in 2011 and was appointed chief commercial officer in 2012. A year later he took on increased accountability in the newly-created role of deputy chief executive, with responsibility for leading commercial operations in the UK, the US and Australia, and integrating them as one global organisation. In 2015 he was appointed CEO of Guardian Media Group (GMG) taking on the responsibility for leading the commercial and financial business strategy. In addition, he was founder and Chairman of GMG Ventures, a £42m fund making early-stage investments in innovative businesses in the media technology sector. 

David has recently co-founded ScienceMagic.Inc which works with leading brands and world-class talent to answer the challenges of building meaningful relationships with consumers in this complex and dynamic world. ScienceMagic.Inc is grounded in three core capabilities of Strategic Science, Creative Magic and Digital Experience to grow real and enduring value for both Brands and People of influence. They believe that established brands urgently need immediate solutions to make the shift in a post-covid world, from offline to a new physical, digital, mobile and virtual world. Personality and Purpose are the future of all brands and all consumers are looking for inspiration in a new world of genuine engagement and entertainment.

David is also a non-executive director of The British Fashion Council and a voting member of BAFTA, he was voted media leader of the year in 2019 and regularly speaks on leadership at the London Business School. 

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