Brian McBride

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Former Chair, ASOS; Former CEO, Amazon.co.uk

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Synopsis

One of Europe’s foremost digital business leaders for over a decade, Brian McBride has led Asos and Amazon in the UK. A career technologist, he worked with those that built the foundations of the digital age, from IBM and Dell to Xerox and T-Mobile. He considers how the new online era came about, and the lessons from those that have revolutionised the world as well as those that fell by the wayside. He reflects on what the next big disruptive trends might be, and the vital importance of leadership to successfully navigating the future.

Biography

Brian McBride has been one of Europe’s foremost digital business leaders for over a decade. After heading Amazon’s UK business he served as Chairman of ASOS, the leading online fashion retailer, for six years. He now serves as deputy chair of Trainline and as a Senior Adviser with Scottish Equity Partners and Lazard’s Global Finance Advisory business.

Prior to joining Asos and helping them grow exponentially from modest startup to leading player, Brian was CEO of amazon.co.uk for five years. During his time at the online retail giant their market grew hugely. They expanded from primarily focusing on books and entertainment to providing everything from groceries to sports equipment. He also oversaw the introduction of innovations like the Amazon Marketplace and Amazon Prime.

Brian has served on the boards of organisations from online electrical retailer AO.com to the BBC to Huawei’s advisory board. He was T-Mobile’s UK CEO and held global roles at IBM and Dell. He’s advised government and has worked in the US, Germany, China and Japan, making him a leading authority on technology, customers and disruption. He has consistently led businesses that have revolutionised how consumers buy and what they expect from retailers. In presentations he looks at how this revolution came about, the rise of mobile and social media in retail, and how to engage with and impress the new breed of customer (whoever and wherever they might be). Drawing on experiences from some of the world’s best-known online businesses he considers the common themes across sectors, the potential effects of AI and what the next big trends will be.

By looking at the disruptive forces that have brought us here, from IBM mainframes to smartphones, Brian looks at the lessons from how industries and companies have adapted (or not) to the threats and opportunities. Whilst strategy and agility are vital, Brian proposes that success is ultimately down to leadership. He also considers his personal experiences, comparing more traditional structures to the culture and behaviours of the new tech revolutionaries, from the role of leaders in disruptive startups to Amazon’s leadership principles.

Brian has maintained a range of roles in the technology sector with positions at investment company Kinnevik, and the cycling retailer Wiggle. Before Amazon, Brian’s career included stints at Xerox and IBM, Dell Computers and Lucent (which later became part of Nokia). He has been a Non Executive Director at AO.com, Celtic Football Club, at staffing company SThree, and at Computacenter. He’s also served as a member of the Government’s Digital Advisory Board, which steers the digital delivery of government and public services.

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Video

Internet retail trends