The Top 5 Influential CSOs

We look at five of the most influential Chief Strategy Officers today


The Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) has become an important role within the C-suite. In this article, and in no particular order, we take a look at five of the most influential ones.

Martina Cheung, McGraw-Hill Financial

Martina’s role at McGraw-Hill Financial is a varied one. Not only is she responsible for the execution and measurement of the company’s growth objectives, she’s also critical to performance analysis, overseeing the company’s capacity to take advantage of new opportunities.

Her strategic prowess could only have been beneficial to the financial institution’s continual success, with its revenues continuing to increase year-on-year.

Ryan Westmacott, Goldman Sachs

In ‘New York’ magazine, Joe Hagan called Goldman Sachs ‘America’s most successful, cynical, envied, despised, and (in its view, anyway) misunderstood engine of capitalism’.

Founded in 1869, Goldman Sachs has since become one of America’s most successful investment bankings companies.

Ryan - whose career spans 14 years within strategy - took up the position of Head of Strategy and Chief of Staff at Goldman and Sachs in 2011, after working at Accenture in a similar position for a decade. He now plays an important role in the company’s strategic development, essential in an industry which is notoriously difficult to navigate.

Paula Felstead, Visa

Paula works as the Head of Business Strategy and Development at Visa Europe. Her teams drive business performance throughout the region, and effectively identify opportunities for future growth.

Having been at the company since 2008, she’s worked across a number of different management roles, all of which stand her in good stead for her current CSO position.

Her experience outside of Visa is also extensive. Not only has she operated within finance, she’s also worked for the government.

Mairi Brewis, BBC

There are a number of challenges which face today’s broadcasters. As the BBC’s output increases, the need for strategic guidance is heightened.

Maria’s role sees her investigate audience demographics, identifying where new genres and TV shows could potentially be taken advantage of. Her time at BBC has also seen her develop a multi-functional team to shape the BBC’s 2022 optimal channel portfolio.

Before taking over the strategic reigns at BBC, Mairi worked as a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group.

Sean Gallagher, Northeastern University

Northeastern is one of the largest private research universities in the U.S. and recognized as a global leader in experiential learning.

Sean has 15 years experience in strategy within education and has built up a considerable reputation in the United States. He has also built central strategies and business development functions which are wholly unique among major U.S. universities, while also working across colleges and schools.


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