Until March 2016 she was New Zealand's Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva and the Prime Minister's Special Envoy to Francophone Africa, as well as Deputy Secretary in the Foreign Ministry and the first woman appointed to head New Zealand’s development agency. Previously she worked at the World Bank and at the International Finance Corporation in senior roles related to gender and development. She was also National Manager of Women in Business and Head of Women’s Markets for Westpac Banking Corporation in Australia where her team grew annual revenues from a standing start to over half a billion dollars in just three years.
Ms. Ellis is founder and past chair of the Global Banking Alliance for Women, the author of two best-selling Random House books on women in business and five on gender and growth in the World Bank Directions in Development series. She is recipient of the International Alliance for Women Lifetime Achievement Award for promoting women's economic empowerment. Ms. Ellis currently serves on several advisory boards including the UN’s Women’s Empowerment Principles, FINCA International, the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Councils and Women Entrepreneurs Connect International.