Asking questions about the things you don’t know—the things that scare you—is a necessary part of achieving growth. Just ask Elizabeth Harris, who was recently named a winner in the Path to Purchase Institute’s 2021 Women of Excellence (WEX) Awards in the Innovator award category.

The WEX awards recognize outstanding brand marketers, retailers, agency executives and solution providers for their achievements in influencing shoppers along the path to purchase.

After 30 years in the industry, Elizabeth is well-known as a whip-smart leader with an unmatched passion for continued learning and innovation. As Chief Strategy Officer at Arc Worldwide, Publicis Groupe’s leading shopper and retail agency, she has fueled transformational growth across the agency and broadly through the organization.

“At the core of Elizabeth’s efforts is an understanding that retail and commerce as we know it is constantly evolving. Today’s consumers have greater control in their purchasing journey, amidst more clutter than ever before,” explains Soche Picard, CEO. 

Indeed, Elizabeth’s superpower is her ability to humanize data, rooting strategy in meaningful insights that allow Arc to achieve its ‘Irresistible Commerce’ philosophy.

Elizabeth’s drive to keep Arc on the leading edge of commerce spurred her to create the agency’s ‘Archer’ Operating System (O/S)—a proprietary platform that leverages several interconnected data tools to reveal the resistance that keeps people from purchasing products and identifies strategies to overcome that resistance and help brands and categories grow. Backed by Epsilon data, Archer fuels insights on 255 million U.S. shoppers at the unique ID level, providing bespoke solutions for clients.

While Archer sets the agency up for success at its core, it is Elizabeth’s firm belief that creating an agency for the future starts with employees at all levels. T-shaped knowledge, of general skills with a deep expertise in one area, is key to creating a cohesive and well-rounded team. Leaning on this concept and tapping into her background as an adjunct professor at Northwestern University, Elizabeth founded Strategy University (or Strat U)—a first-of-its-kind educational program that harnessed her strategists’ breadth of knowledge to help fellow teammates learn, grow and evolve their strategy craft—no matter their background.

As Elizabeth works tirelessly to think ahead, she also champions colleagues of all ages. In 2020, she played a key role in founding Sages, a Publicis Groupe Business Resource Group (BRG) for employees 45+. Most recently, Elizabeth and Sages secured the Age Friendly Institute’s ‘Age Friendly Employer Certification’ for Arc and its Publicis Groupe counterparts—Leo Burnett, Publicis Health and Digitas North America. These were notably the first agencies to be certified in the program, paving the way to a more welcoming and accessible workplace in the advertising industry.

A well-deserved honor for an exceptional leader! Read more about the 2021 winners:

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