Alison Simpson, CMO & Founder, Forerunner Marketing Ltd.


In a world with 500,000 new start-ups each month, Alison is renowned for helping established and emerging companies thrive in an increasingly challenging environment by ensuring their brand provides a differentiated competitive advantage that inspires employees, motivates consumers and grows the business.  After a successful career building brands and delivering double digit growth for companies as diverse as Holt Renfrew, Tim Hortons, Apple, Molson, Rogers, Ford and Scotiabank, Alison founded her own marketing consultancy in 2018. Forerunner Marketing provides fractional CMO services to a range of retail, start up and finance clients.

Alison’s background as an award-winning marketer, who brings expertise across a broad range of marketing disciplines, combined with P&L ownership and Board experience, means she has a unique ability to quickly assess the business potential, marketplace, and consumers’ needs to drive powerful results.   Alison is one of the few marketers in Canada with experience in digital, customer experience, brand, loyalty, data analytics, media, research, PR, corporate communications, advertising and experiential, which positions her very well to deliver on the quickly evolving market realities.

Alison’s strategic approach and business acumen have also helped iconic Canadian brands thrive in an increasingly global competitive environment. In her role as SVP Marketing & Customer Experience for Holt Renfrew, Alison’s marketing leadership contributed to a 21% year over year sales increase, broadened Holt’s customer base and re-engaged lapsed customers. Her marketing delivered growth of 12% for new customers and 9% growth for lapsed customers, despite both Nordstrom and Saks entering the market and significantly outspending Holt Renfrew.

In her “life beyond work”, Alison is passionate about sports, an avid traveler and adventurer.  She’s completed 55 marathons and ultras, including winning her age group in a 250km Race Across the Sahara Desert and helping to raise $100,000 for the National Advertising Benevolence Society charity in the process. Alison also climbed Mt Kilimanjaro to raise money for the Alzheimer Society.  She’s active in her industry. Her current Board roles include: Board Vice Chair for CNIB GTA Foundation; and Advisory Board member for Smith School of Business Masters of Management Analytics Program.

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