In our Headliners series of conversations, we get under the skin of PR and communications leaders around the world who have made PRovoke Media headlines recently, uncovering what they see as the greatest challenges and opportunities for the industry, where they find inspiration (and how they switch off), what they’ve learned about themselves, as well as the creative campaigns they love and the work they are most proud of.

In this week's Q&A, we chat to Bella Ling-Nair, who recently joined Lenovo as global head of communications for its solutions and services group. 

What are the greatest challenges and opportunities for the PR and communications industry over the next 12 months?

From metaverse to AI to geopolitical tension to sustainability — as PR and communications practitioners our greatest challenges now more than ever are how we can stay relevant and how we can help the businesses we represent (agency or in-house) stay relevant and move in-sync with the fast-changing, complex world. But those who can do this the quickest and smartest can prove the growing value of PR & communications — opportunities for us all. 

What’s the best PR campaign you’ve seen recently and why?

Microsoft's AI Campaign — the strategic and multi-stakeholder engagement campaign has firmly established the company as a leader. It seamlessly incorporated AI across their entire product portfolio and eloquently communicated the strategy top down by [Microsoft CEO] Satya [Nadella], with his leadership team complementing the narrative by emphasizing each product's unique contribution to the broader story. They also underscored the importance of implementing guardrails, emphasizing areas like privacy, bias, misinformation, hallucinations, and transparency, reinforcing their dedication to responsible and ethical AI growth.

What work from your team are you most proud of over the past year?

I led a very lean team at my previous job. With limited resources they had to work through the toughest part of the pandemic both professionally and personally. Yet they delivered outstanding results in company brand building and large event activation. I was very proud of them. 

What have you learned about yourself over the past couple of years?

The pandemic allowed me to spend time with myself, particularly when my husband and I had to live in two continents for almost two years. I learned that always finding the right rhythm of life is key to manage energy and time. It helps me stay calm and focused, making problems in life easier to tackle. 

How do you switch off and maintain wellness?

I switch off by (re)organizing things in the house and watching TV with my husband (and playing with our 3 dogs and 5 cats on the side.) We also love walking and biking in our neighborhood. However it’s both a blessing and a curse when you and husband are in the same profession – we always end up talking about work and brainstorming. 

What cultural source (eg book/podcast/movie/TV show/music artist) has provided creative inspiration for you lately?

I believe if you are a creative person, almost anything and everything in life can inspire you. I listen to podcasts and audio books. But I find it inspiring talking to my sister who is the strategy chief at Wunderman Thompson. We talk about trends, food, pop culture, ….. and we drink and laugh. We always inspire each other.

If I wasn’t working in PR/comms I would be…

A Broadway singer/actor - my dream since childhood. Although I probably would really excel being an engineer.