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Stephen Thomas leads corporate communications for AIA Group, the largest independent publicly listed pan-Asian life insurance group, with operations in 17 markets in the Asia-Pacific region. Accordingly, Thomas oversees one of the region’s broadest communications remits, leading strategy and stakeholder engagement, serving as chief media liaison and aiming to convey a compelling narrative around AIA’s key reputation drivers — performance, strategy, leadership and major growth initiatives.
Thomas’ experience as one of Asia’s most experienced financial services communicators stands him in good stead for the role. Before joining AIA, he spent seven years as head of corporate Affairs for Citigroup in China, based in Shanghai. Prior to his role at Citi, he worked at Burson-Marsteller in Melbourne and Hong Kong.
Can you share a moment in your career that you recognized PR's direct impact on business performance?
I could cite an M&A deal or an issues management episode, but perhaps what resonated with me most was my previous CEO, a renowned global business leader, telling me that doing the work is only one half of the job; communicating it is the other half.
What are the industry's biggest challenges and opportunities?
Attracting and retaining the smartest people is the without question the biggest challenge.
The volatile and uncertain times in which we live, combined with the social nature of the world, provides for enormous opportunities to make the industry more relevant and valued than ever before.
How do you handle the unexpected?
Accept the unexpected will always arise and keep a positive mind-set.
How do you relax?
Reading, TV and swimming with my boys.
Book/movie/TV show/podcast that teaches a valuable lesson about PR?
Inside PR (podcast)
If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
restless and bored!
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