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Maria Sebastian, Independent Consultant

Maria Sebastian is currently an independent consultant, supporting consumer brands with their growth strategies. Focusing on brand strategy, development and transformation, she developed her expertise working across the UK and the US at some of the strongest global brands. In her most recent role, she was the senior vice president for Marketing, Product and Brand for Starbucks EMEA where she led product innovation, category management, marketing and loyalty, shaping the brand experience across 41 countries and nearly 3000 stores.

Maria joined Starbucks after spending 20 years in the airline industry. Most recently Maria led Sales and Marketing globally at Virgin Atlantic Airways, responsible for leading Virgin Atlantic’s global commercial and customer experience teams across marketing, worldwide sales, distribution/channel strategy, design, loyalty, and e-business. In addition to leading these global functions, Maria also was responsible for the International teams including operational leadership of all of the airline’s teams based outside of the UK. Prior to Virgin Atlantic, Maria worked at American Airlines in both Europe and the US, starting her airline career in pricing and revenue management. She quickly rose through the ranks ultimately serving as vice president and managing director of Sales and Marketing for EMEA and India. Named one of the Most Compelling Women in Travel, she is a proven leader known for her innovative, customer-centric commercial strategies. She has also been recognized as a key talent by several US Hispanic business publications, and for her functional expertise by numerous UK marketing publications.

Holding both US and UK citizenship, Maria earned a BA from Tulane University in Louisiana after studying Economics, Spanish, and Dance, and later earned a MBA from Duke University-Fuqua School of Business in North Carolina. She served on the board of British American Business, and is currently on the advisory board of the National Theatre in the UK, and the European Regional Advisory Board of the Fuqua School of Business. A native of Florida, Maria has lived in London for over 14 years with her husband and 2 daughters.