Debra Walton

Debra leads all sales, client and partner relationship management and market development activities for Refinitiv.

Her global team operating in 65 countries brings the entire range of Refinitiv solutions to meet the data analytics and workflow needs of its customers.

Debra has lived and worked on three continents, and has held senior executive positions across product, content, sales and marketing at Refinitiv and the Financial & Risk business division of Thomson Reuters since she joined the firm in 2003. She is also a board member of Tradeweb.

Debra is a tireless advocate of gender equality and speaks globally on the importance of diversity and leadership as well as on the importance of ESG policies more broadly.

Debra is an advisory board member at Springboard, a New York based nonprofit that brings together entrepreneurs, investors, and industry experts to help women take their business plans to market.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I grew up on a sheep farm in rural Australia at a time when less than five per cent of Australians pursued a tertiary education. My father was a farmer and my mother worked in the post office so I had no real career role models at all in my life. The highest expectations set for me were to get a job in the local bank which was seen as “a good job for a girl”.  Today I am the chief revenue officer for Refinitiv – a 6.5 billion global financial services technology organization. I truly believe that we live in a world today where most of us can achieve whatever we want in life. And because of this and my own journey I am deeply committed to helping others from non-traditional background to find their success.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

 Not in the beginning. But I always tried to put myself in the bullseye of opportunity, always first to raise my hand for new roles and challenges that would develop me or enable me to stand out in a crowd. And that approach served me well in the early years of my career. In the latter part of my career I have been more focused on planning but I am still a believer that the foundation of a great career is a combination of doing a great job in the one you have – and actively cultivating sponsorship for the one you want.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

 I think the biggest challenge I have continually faced is unconscious bias. We all hold unconscious bias and it is true to say that even the most open-minded people can still make assumptions. Like many women (and also men) I also suffer the curse of “imposter syndrome” from time to time.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

My biggest achievement to date was really breaking out of the role my family and society saw for me back in Australia and making the decision to follow my dreams. It was a big leap of faith but definitely the best decision I ever made.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Sponsorship. Networking is important at all levels of business, but building more formal connections that actively promote you and help you navigate through your career has been invaluable to me and this is why I am such a champion of sponsorship myself. I very much want to provide the same support to women coming up in their careers as was offered to me.

How do you feel about mentoring?

Passionate. We all need mentors and we all must be mentors.

Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

Of course! Over the years I have (and still do have) many mentors and I have been privileged to mentor many others. I have a saying – there are “mentors for a reason, mentors for a season and mentors for life”!

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

Address unconscious bias – I feel that we have made great progress but there is still so much to do to address societal conditioning that plays out in all levels of life. My own experience is that organizations are truly enriched by differing perspectives, differing leadership styles, differing life experiences.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Have no regrets.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

My next and current challenge is to transform the sales and account management function at Refinitiv ensuring that our customers remain at the heart of everything we do. Beyond that I hope to continue to have the health and good fortune that has enabled me to enjoy a wonderful life. I have been extremely lucky to strike a balance where my career and my personal life are harmoniously entwined – long may that continue!