Huda Al Shamsi | The Innovator 25 EMEA 2023

Huda Al Shamsi

VP Marketing, Brand & Communications
Abu Dhabi Airports



“Innovation in PR is finding new means to deliver tangible impact. Be it an idea, activation or campaign, it’s about finding new ways in an increasingly cluttered space to move the dial.” 

A passionate Emirati, Huda Al Shamsi is admired across the UAE communications industry as a leader who is obsessed with bringing brand stories to life through strategic communications and experiences to deliver impact. As VP of corporate marketing, brand and communications at Abu Dhabi Airports since 2019, she is responsible for the overall brand management of the group’s five airports, commercial offering, hospitality, the freezone business hub and cargo. In 2022, she led the creative development and implementation of Abu Dhabi Airports’ new corporate brand identity in 2022 and is leading the planning and implementation of all marketing and communications around the new terminal opening. A champion of Abu Dhabi’s cultural and tourism ambitions – she was previously at the Department of Culture and Tourism, where she led the marketing and communications function and handled special projects such as the Abu Dhabi Film Festival – Al Shamsi continues to show her commitment to cultural advocacy in the region. She was previously director of marketing at KBBO Group, a private investment firm based in Abu Dhabi, where she was instrumental in building brand equity for the group and its subsidiaries.

How do you define innovation?
Innovation in PR is finding new means to deliver tangible impact. Be it an idea, activation or campaign, it’s about finding new ways in an increasingly cluttered space to move the dial in terms of public perception, build greater awareness of a brand and increase understanding of its value.

What is the most innovative PR or marketing initiative you've seen over the past 12 months?
The release of Mission: Impossible 7 in Abu Dhabi.

In your opinion, which brands and/or agencies are most innovative in their approach to PR and marketing?

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider to be innovative.
Bringing brands to life – always exploring new ways of finding solutions.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation? 
I would struggle to pick out just one individual, as from my own experience I’m aware of how key collaboration is to innovation.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
Take a walk, travel, read.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
Be bold, but also be forever mindful of your audience. Innovation doesn’t have to be big or outlandish, but it does need to focus on impact.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has provided inspiration over the past year?
Simon Sinek’s book, ‘Leaders Eat Last’.

How can the PR and communications industry harness innovation to make more progress on diversity, equity and inclusion?
This is an incredibly important issue; we’re in the business of communications, after all. In terms of inclusion, I think the question is how we can use innovations in communication to increase a diverse range of people’s sense of value in an organisation. I’m a firm believer that this diversity of background and opinion can only deliver better PR and communications, as it has a greater power to connect. PR and communications already has a strong voice. It can use this to lead by example, when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion. In terms of innovation, that could be embracing the latest data reporting methods to deliver greater diversity and equity accountability, and encouraging it elsewhere.