He is responsible for all communications for GEMS Education – digital, social media, print, broadcast and internal communications. He runs a dedicated team who work together to ensure that the GEMS organisation and all its schools around the world are promoted with positive communications to the world’s media. Jon is relatively new to education although he has three children who have all benefitted from first class learning over the years including an eight-year-old daughter who attends a GEMS school. Prior to this role, Jon worked as VP for Communications at Expo 2020 Dubai, the next World Expo, which will now be held over six months in October this year. He also was the Director for Communications for the world’s largest round-the-world yacht race, the Volvo Ocean Race, and before all this, worked for a long time as journalist in some leading global media organisations including Mirror Group Newspapers and Reuters international news agency (London Bureau Chief). He has covered seven Olympic Games and five World Cups (football and cricket) as a journalist, but says that working for GEMS is more exciting than any of them.
Davide Del Deo
Davide Del Deo
Advisor, Sustainability and Responsible Investment, Sustainable Square
Passionate about global environmental and social challenges, Davide works as an Advisor in Sustainable Finance and Corporate Sustainabilityat Sustainable Square (Dubai). He has helped several businesses in the MENA Region throughout their sustainability reporting journey and towards the achievement of corporate-wide sustainability targets.
Regional Director – Financial + Professional Services, MENA, Hill+Knowlton Strategies
As the head of H+K’s Financial + Professional Services practice in the Middle East and North Africa, Jennifer is responsible for driving the client portfolio with standout relationships at a senior level.
In her role, Jennifer provides strategic communications counsel to some of the region’s most reputable government entities, listed companies and financial institutions. She has more than 14 years of experience in advising clients on strategic corporate communications as well as financial communications and investor relations.
Jennifer leverages her deep expertise to coach and train C-level executives ahead of mission-critical stakeholder engagements and is well versed in shaping corporate narratives and compelling investment cases. Leading trainings and workshops tailored to specific occasions, she works side by side with her clients to achieve the best possible outcome in interactions with key stakeholders and safeguard a positive reputation.
Before joining H+K, Jennifer held roles with two international communications consultancies in the Middle East. Prior to this, she worked for the leading German financial communications agency across mandates for private equity firms, banks and other financial institutions, listed companies, and government entities.
Jennifer has a Master’s degree in Mass Communication and Psychology from Ludwig Maximillian University of Munich, a Postgraduate Master’s degree in Advanced European Studies from University of Basel, Institute of Europe, and an Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) from University of the Arts London.
Jennifer is a Certified Investor Relations Officer (MEIRA) and is working towards the ESG Analyst Certification by the European Association of Financial Analysts Societies as well as an Executive Certificate in Sustainable Finance by the London Institute of Banking and Finance and the Abu Dhabi Global Markets Academy.
Corporate Communications Specialist, Mubadala
Libby Hennigar is the Corporate Narrative Lead, Corporate Communications at Mubadala Investment Company. She has been with Mubadala for 10 years and has held a variety of roles where she has led Narrative & Storytelling, and has been the Communications Business Partner for Portfolio Strategy & Risk, Business Services, and Enterprise Technology Services.
In her current role, Libby is responsible for Mubadala’s corporate reputation and is the Communications Business Partner for Group Finance and the newly formed Responsible Investing Division. For the last 18 months she has been the communications support for the Responsible Investing Working Group that have been formalizing and implementing Mubadala’s Responsible Investing Framework and Policy.
With over 20 years of experience as a communicator she has worked in Financial Services, Public & Corporate Relations, and Publishing. Prior to working in Mubadala, Libby was a communications consultant in London, UK, working with such institutions as MetLife, Barclays Wealth, Lloyds Corporate Banking, Lansons Communications and RSA. She is a dynamic individual with a passion for her profession. She is a member of the MEPRA Strategy Board.
Founder & Chair, PRovoke Media
Paul Holmes, founder and chair of The Holmes Group, has been writing about public relations for more than 25 years. Paul began his career in local newspapers in the north of England and also worked for a newspaper group in South London before joining PR Week as news editor in 1985.
In 1987 he moved to New York to launch the short-lived US edition of that publication, and after that project came to an inglorious end worked with Adweek and Adweek’s Marketing Week for a year.
In 1989, he launched his own company, initially publishing Inside PR, and later Reputation Management magazine, both focused on providing analysis of critical trends and issues in the public relations industry. He created the annual Public Relations Agency Report Card, which included profiles of the leading PR firms in the US, and the Creativity in Public Relations Awards, which grew to become that largest in North America.
Early in 2000, Holmes launched The Holmes Group, which provides knowledge and insight to public relations professionals across a variety of platforms, including a website, an e-newsletter, events, printed reports, research and consulting assignments, and the SABRE Awards competition. The group’s flagship title, The Holmes Report, covers the public relations business in the Americas, EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) and the Asia-Pacific region. In 2011, Paul was inducted into the ICCO Hall of Fame.
President of BCW – Middle East, Founder of Asda'a BCW
Sunil John is the Founder of ASDA’A BCW and President – Middle East of BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe), the region’s leading PR consultancy. He is on the global board of BCW a top three global PR agency. He also leads Proof Communications, a specialist digital and design firm, and PSB Research ME that offers research-based consultancy for campaigns in the region. At the heart of the public relations business in the Middle East for over 25 years, Sunil founded ASDA’A in 2000 and has shaped its growth into the benchmark public relations consultancy in the Arab world, advising governments, multinationals and global & local companies. In 2008, WPP Group acquired majority stake in the firm.
Sunil has been the driver behind the annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey, a unique thought leadership initiative started in 2008 and today, is one of the most widely cited pieces of public opinion research on the region by media and policymakers across the world.
Regional Director of Content Strategy, PR & Influence, MENA, Memac Ogilvy
Joe Lipscombe is Memac Ogilvy’s first Regional Director of Content Strategy. He is responsible for driving and delivering the agency’s key differentiator of producing intelligent, informed, multi-format, omni-channel stories that significantly impact long-term brand growth. He assumed the role after successfully launching and growing the UAE’s multi-format content and influence team, growing it from just himself in 2015 to a fully fledged team of 13 by 2019.
In his current role, Joe is focused on growing the capabilities of the region’s strategic content offering, driving business through creative campaigns and storytelling, and inspiring clients and colleagues with his unique point of view and philosophy.
Within this, Joe leads, and has lead, on original neuroscience and behavourial science research, thought leadership, and training for clients and colleagues. His inquisitive and curious approach to brands and briefs means there’s no such thing as a normal idea — he believes in the power of compelling storytelling as a business driver and is relentless in his quest to deliver award-winning work to all Ogilvy brands. He is a member of The One Club for Creativity and a Cannes Gold Lion winner in PR.
A British-trained journalist, Joe has reported for Sky News, Bloomberg Businessweek, Forbes, multiple national newspapers and several other television stations. As well as war and politics, Joe was a global tech reporter for a number of years, trotting the globe covering the largest IT and tech conferences for two years. He is a two-time published author, including the extended essay, The Art and Science of Better Storytelling.
Corporate Communications Director, Schneider Electric
Alex Malouf is a marketing communications executive who has spent the last 17 years in the Middle East. Alex has lived across the region, in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Israel, Palestine and the United Arab Emirates. He is the Corporate Communications Director for the Middle East and Africa at Schneider Electric.
A journalist by training and with a cultural mix that is both European and Arabic, Alex’s expertise spans communications and media, public relations and marketing for both multinationals in the energy, technology and FMCG space as well as several Gulf-based government institutions. Alex’s experience includes corporate communications, media relations and outreach, content development, crisis/reputation management, and digital/social media.
When he’s not putting pen to paper, Alex can be found advocating for the region’s media and public relations industry. Alex is passionate about promoting sustainability in the communications sector by highlighting the industry’s potential to GCC nationals. He works with not-for-profit organizations such as the PRCA MENA to shape and support training and awareness initiatives for both those wishing to pursue a career in public relations
Founder & CEO , CARMA
Mazen Nahawi is the Founder & CEO of CARMA, a global media intelligence company with over 500 staff in 18 offices worldwide. He is also the Founder & CEO of SOCIALEYEZ, the leading social marketing agency in the Middle East.
In addition, Mazen serves on the National Media Advisory Council at Zayed University and the board at MEPRA; he is also a former president of FIBEP and a frequent lecturer and guest speaker around the world.
Mazen is a life-long resident of the UAE, having lived in the country since 1974. He is of Palestinian origin and is a Maltese citizen. He lives with his wife and six children and stepchildren in Dubai.
Mazen is passionate about entrepreneurship as a driving force for national development, and as a key bridge between cultures and economies world-wide.
Director – Content, Data + Digital, METIA, Hill+Knowlton Strategies
Kirsty leads the Innovation + Creative Hub in Dubai for H+K, supporting the Middle East, Turkey, India and Africa region (METIA). She brings specialisms in social media, data and digital integration to the agency, and sits across H+K’s sector teams to support the continuous evolution of communications.
Educated in PR before moving to digital practices, Kirsty can span the newsroom with skills in both traditional and digital communications. She has previously played digital transformation roles in PR agencies in the UK, taking both traditional PR and SEO teams and transitioning them into Earned Media specialists.
During her four years in the Middle East, Kirsty has been involved in several major live events including World Athletics, World Gymnastics, Formula E, AFC Asian Cup and UFC Fight Island to lead live newsrooms from content roll-out to crisis. She has supported integrated planning for global brands including adidas, P&G and Porsche in MENA also.
Before moving to the UAE, she spent time working in the USA with the Caribbean Premier League, taking T20 cricket to the US market. She was responsible for the creation and implementation of their digital communications strategy, which saw 1.5 million social fans gained organically during the six-week live event. Prior to this, she spent four years supporting Thomas Cook to communicate their international travel packages via media relations and social media.
Kirsty holds a first-class BA Hons in Public Relations from Leeds Beckett University. She's won over 10 industry awards in the region, including most recently a MEPRA 2020 awards for Best Live Event, Best Travel & Tourism Campaign and Best in UAE. Kirsty last spoke at PRovoke MENA’s 2020 summit, leading a panel on Influencer Marketing and has been published in two textbooks on integrated communications.
Maja Pawinska Sims
Maja Pawinska Sims
Associate Editor, PRovoke Media
Maja Pawinska Sims has been the EMEA editor of PRovoke Media since January 2018. She has been writing about public relations and communications for more than 20 years, first as features editor of PRWeek and then as a freelance writer and editor for PR agencies and their clients around the world, including three years as Weber Shandwick’s EMEA editor. She was named Journalist of the Year at the Global Women in Marketing Awards in 2019, where the judges noted: “Maja proves how empathy can drive brilliant editorial thinking. She is clearly an absolute expert in her field and proves that you can challenge an industry while also championing it.”
Paul Quigley is CEO of NewsWhip, a technology that monitors and predicts news engagement in real time. NewsWhip is used each day by thousands of journalists and communicators to spot breaking news, unpack crises and issues, and better understand which stories are engaging audiences in 80 countries. It is backed by the Associated Press, and counts most major news organizations and all major US PR Agencies as clients.
Before founding NewsWhip, Paul was an attorney based in New York City. He holds law degrees from New York University and Trinity College Dublin. Paul is interested in the propagation of ideas, and the impact on society of the rise of social media, content personalization and misinformation. He is a winner of the Emerging EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the Eir Spider Awards, and the PRovoke Media Innovator 25.
Chief Communications Officer, GE International Markets
As Chief Communications Officer for GE Global, Rania Rostom leads strategic 360° communications for GE across global growth markets. She is responsible for driving commercial and customer communications programming, thought leadership, international media relations, and executive communications.
In addition to her global role, Rania leads the innovation and communications agenda for GE in the Middle East, North Africa & Turkey (MENAT). She joined GE in 2005 and has over 25 years’ experience in the fields of reputation management, brand building, and digital & marketing communications, as well as innovation and customer initiatives.
Prior to joining GE, she was Corporate Communications Manager for the BMW Group Middle East. She started her career in 1992 with a leading regional PR & Advertising agency, working with a wide range of companies such as Singapore Airlines, Nissan, Tag Heuer and Mars and critical programming initiatives such as the privatization of Coca-Cola and crisis management for Ministry of Tourism in Egypt.
Rania attended the American University in Cairo and Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania, graduating with a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications and a minor in English Literature. She established the GE Women’s Network for the MENAT region and was recently recognized as a Finalist for ‘Female Leader of the Year’ in MEED’s regional industry
Board Director and Ambassador Coordinator, Azraq
Passionate, Loyal, Dedicated. Home has never been just one place for Amanda Rushforth. Born in the UK, Rushforth moved to Jeddah with her family early on and was raised there until she moved back to England for boarding school. Rushforth moved back to the Middle East in 2006, after a ten-year stint in Saudi Arabia and relocated to Dubai.
In 2012, Rushforth received a BA Hons in Fashion Promotion, Fashion and Textile Design from Southampton University, England. After which, the warmer weather called to her, and she returned to the Gulf to work in public relations with both large and small scale corporate brands such as Pink Caravan, Friends of Cancer Patients (FOCP) and Gulftainer, to name a few. Channelling her passion for marketing and love for social media, Rushforth later moved on to become Media Content Manager, working with global brands such as Reebok, Adidas and Perrier at LIGHTBLUE, LLC, Dubai, before moving into a freelance role to allow her more time for travel and adventure. Now, Rushforth donates her time and expertise in content creation, marketing and event planning to a variety of brands, from international projects to independent local start-ups, something she is passionate about. Including Positive Planet, headquartered in Paris and locally based Azraq within the not-for-profit sector.
Growing up by the Red Sea in Jeddah, Rushforth developed a deep passion for the ocean, specifically watersports and marine life. Having seen first-hand the deterioration of the shorelines due to plastic pollution, Rushforth has become an advocate for plastic-free oceans, wardrobes and food chains. A lover of all things sustainable, she has since been plastic water bottle free for years and pushes to maintain a plastic-free household as much as possible.
A big believer in the saying “surround yourself with the right people”, Rushforth employs this notion in everything from her personal to professional life, aligning herself with like-minded people and brands to drive forward her professional work and personal growth. This shined through in her recent capsule collection launch in November 2020 with the sustainable homegrown brand, BY M.A.R.Y.
A lover of the ocean and a fervent supporter of its preservation, Rushforth had worked with Natalie Banks, a fellow ocean warrior and the founder of Azraq, a volunteer-run not-for-profit entity in the UAE for years in an unofficial capacity, before joining the organization as a member of the Board of Directors in January 2020. Founded in September 2018, Azraq, which is registered with the Community Development Authority, has been on the front lines of ocean conservation in the United Arab Emirates with exceptional groundwork and education of the community, actively involved in beach and ocean clean-ups and mangrove tree planting days as a part of the organization’s fight for cleaner oceans. Rushforth believes that Azraq has the ability to become the leading authority on marine conservation in the region, providing credible commitments that bring about real change. She works closely with the team to help with promotion through social media, as well as engaging with local ambassadors and encouraging and challenges perceptions through local talks and webinars.
Rushforth currently works with a variety of FMCG, fashion and luxury brands, helping with content creation, advertising, marketing strategies, social campaigns, influencer outreach and events. Rushforth also loves sharing her insights on sustainability and how to live consciously, with several opinion and sustainable guide pieces published in regional publications such as Emirates Woman magazine and Women’s Health Middle East, of which she graced the cover back in February 2018.
Strategic communications, ESG and public affairs expert,
Vasuki Shastry is a strategic communications, ESG, and public affairs expert based in Washington D.C. He was a journalist in India, Singapore, and Indonesia early in his career and has worked in leadership roles at the International Monetary Fund, Singapore central bank, and most recently at Standard Chartered Bank in London, where he was Global Head of Public Affairs and Sustainability. Shastry is an Associate Asia Fellow at Chatham House and a Senior Fellow at the US Chamber of Commerce.
He is author of “Resurgent Indonesia - From Crisis to Confidence” and his second book “Has Asia Lost It? Dynamic Past, Turbulent Future” will be released in February 2021.
CEO/Editor-in-Chief, PRovoke Media
Arun Sudhaman is CEO and editor-in-chief at PRovoke Media.
In this role Arun oversees PRovoke Media's global content offering, including its analysis and insight into reputation, public relations and communications trends and issues. Since joining PRovoke Media in 2010, Arun has comprehensively redefined the title’s offering and operations, which include its digital presence and new products such as the Influence 100 compendium of key global influencers, the Global PR Agency Rankings, the Global Creative Index, and the PRovoke Media podcast. He also led the rebrand of the Holmes Report to PRovoke Media in 2020.
Arun has played a pivotal role expanding PRovoke Media's coverage into Asia-Pacific and other emerging markets, and has helped steer the company’s international events programme, particularly the Global Public Relations Summit — which has featured such luminaries as Sir Martin Sorrell, P&G’s Marc Pritchard, Chuck Porter and IBM’s Jon Iwata.
He brings to the position more than a decade’s experience as a journalist and digital content specialist, most of which has been spent analysing the media, marketing and communications industries. His career has encompassed coverage and analysis of reputation and leadership issues in numerous countries across the world, including the US and UK, Russia, China, India and South Africa.
As an industry analyst and media commentator Arun has appeared in the BBC's Asia Business Report, the Washington Post, Quartz, the Guardian, the FT, the South China Morning Post, Buzzfeed and others, along with speaking at events across the globe — including the Cannes Lions, World Economic Forum in Davos, and industry conferences in such countries as Australia, Brazil, China, India, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, UK and USA.
Prior to joining PRovoke Media, Arun spent more than seven years with Haymarket Media in Hong Kong, Singapore and London. He joined Haymarket title PRWeek UK in January 2009, after covering Asia’s media and marketing landscape at sister Haymarket title Campaign Asia-Pacific in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Before Haymarket, Arun spent one year at public relations firm Weber Shandwick during its tumultuous mergers with Weber and BSMG. During his career as a journalist he has appeared on BBC News and has also contributed to The Guardian and the South China Morning Post, where he began his career as a business reporter.
In 2015, Arun became the youngest-ever inductee into the ICCO Hall of Fame.
Vice President – Public Relations, Social Media and Internal Communications, The Emirates Group
Valerie is responsible for Public Relations, Social Media and Internal Communications at the Emirates Group which comprises the global airline Emirates, and air services provider dnata.
Based in Dubai, she leads an in-house team of 30 professionals, overseeing a support network of over 80 communications agencies in the implementation of internal and external communications activity for Emirates and dnata worldwide. She reports to the head of Corporate Communications, Marketing and Brand.
Valerie has over a decade of experience in communications, and has held leadership roles in-house and at a global PR agency in Singapore.
CEO & Founder , Cosmic Centaurs
Marilyn Zakhour is the CEO & Founder of Cosmic Centaurs a company that helps leaders and organizations adapt to the new ways of work in the emerging post-pandemic world. For executives who are looking for thinking partners, companies permanently shifting to flexible work models, and teams adjusting to remote-friendly ways of working, Cosmic Centaurs offers consulting, training, insights, and technology recommendations to enable collaboration, resilience, and innovation.
Marilyn has experience in organizations of all sizes and knows how to bring the agility of small startups to big corporations. Previously Chief Marketing Officer of EMAAR, and Head of Dubai Opera, Marilyn holds an executive MBA from INSEAD. She has also spent 10 years in the startup world, building and running digital native companies.