Astound Commerce Appoints Deborah Hankin to Chief People Officer

Emma Sahota also tapped to helm the Astound UK as Managing Director

Astound Commerce has announced the appointment of its new Chief People Officer (CPO), Deborah Hankin. Having lived and worked in Japan, Deborah will apply the concept of sei-katsu-sha, or “seeing the whole person,” to transform Astound’s approach to its people experience. This Japanese tenet stresses the importance of focusing on a person’s lifestyle, aspirations, and dreams to understand them holistically. As CPO at Astound, Deborah does not just view employees and candidates through the narrower framework of the employee-employer relationship. Instead, she demonstrates the power of innovation by taking a well-honed concept—one that is far removed from ecommerce—and applying it to the ecommerce space.

Renata Akers
Writer at Astound Commerce

As part of the leadership team, Deborah brings more than 17 years of experience and a deep commitment to providing excellent end-to-end experience for employees. Her previous tenures include Connatix, Mediabrands, and Real Chemistry (formerly W2O Group), leading award-winning initiatives to advance diversity, inclusion, and women’s equity in today’s dynamic technology arena. But it is her experience working directly in account management and strategy at Wunderman, FCB, Deutsch, and Dentsu that affords her a unique perspective as CPO.

“I understand what it’s like to do the work, and because I don’t just come from a human resources background, I’m not afraid to try something that hasn’t been done before,” Hankin explains.

Hankin will report directly to Astound Global CEO Michael Kahn (MK). “Deborah is the right person to steer our people experience in this important moment,” MK says. “She will advance and strengthen our efforts in support of our global team as we strive to ensure our people experience at Astound is as wonderful as our client experience.” 

With a BA in communications studies from UCLA and an MS in marketing from Northwestern University, Deborah has authored numerous articles on talent management, including “How to Avoid Innovation Imposters” and “5 Interview Questions to Detect an IT Innovator.”

In further leadership developments at Astound, Emma Sahota has been promoted to Managing Director of Astound UK. Sahota will oversee daily operations and direct partnerships, people, and prospects to help Astound grow revenue for clients in the UK and Ireland. “I’m honored to have this opportunity to lead our strong UK market,” Sahota says. “I look forward to working across markets to build on our partnerships and continuing to deliver cutting-edge solutions and customer experiences.”

With more than 20 years of experience driving revenue for online brands, Sahota joined Astound in May 2021 as Head of Client Services for the UK market, where she supported in-market client relationships, enabling global brands to achieve their business objectives and driving valuable business outcomes. Sahota was instrumental in shifting the company from a franchise model into a market-based structure, ensuring greater alignment, collaboration, and faster go-to-market solutions across the entire organization. Based in London, Sahota assumes the role previously held by Samuel Cane, who moves into a role focused on design in Astound’s Solutions division. She will report directly to Astound Chief Revenue Officer Terry Hunter.


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