Valerie Tan | Influence 100

Valerie Tan 

VP Public Relations, Social Media & Internal Communications 



Across two stints at Emirates Group, Valerie Tan has risen to a leadership role that covers public relations, social media and internal communications for global airline Emirates and air services provider dnata. 

Based in Dubai, Tan 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. Tan has over a decade of experience in communications, and has also held leadership roles at Weber Shandwick in Singapore.

Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR's direct impact on business performance?
Never more than in the last 12 months. Communicators have been on overdrive to help internal and external audiences navigate the pandemic. Whether it is updated health advice and new work protocols for employees, leadership messages that reassure and rally, or essential information for customers, communities, and stakeholders – comms have had a clear and direct impact operations and business outcomes.

What are the communications industry's biggest challenges and opportunities in the year ahead?
Consumers and civil society expect ever more accountability and transparency from organisations, and this is big area of opportunity for us. After all, issues and reputation management are our bread and butter. The biggest challenge I think will be talent development. To deliver the best advice and work, practitioners have to continually stay abreast of a complex landscape, not only in terms of stakeholder interests and voices, but also data and insights, digital tech and formats, and myriad media channels, each with its own quirks.

What have you most admired about this industry over the past year?
It's been a huge year for environmental and social agendas, and comms practitioners have stepped up to help brands navigate the opportunity amidst increased expectations of companies. There's never been so much attention and will to drive change for the planet and social equity, and our industry is in the thick of it.

What has most disappointed you about this industry over the past year?
As reported by PRovoke Media, it's that PR agencies did not lead idea creation for the (great) campaigns that won the major gongs in this year's Cannes PR Lions.

How have you switched off from work and maintained wellness in lockdown?
It's been tough, but having a dog to walk helps with my daily step count and getting away from a screen. My wellness goals are extremely modest. I try to get sufficient sleep and eat well.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through this year or provided inspiration?
The Guilty Feminist podcast. I'm probably late to the party. But it's funny and rewires some of my thinking. You don't have to be a feminist to enjoy it.

If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
An aspirant author.

Sum up 2021 in one word.