Rania Rostom| The Innovator 25 EMEA 2023

Rania Rostom

Head of Global Marketing & Communications



“Innovation is creative collaboration and the power of the collective pushing us forward into new spaces and new ways of solving together.” 

As global marketing and communications, talent development and customer education lead for GE, Rania Rostom is responsible for the company’s brand, thought leadership and reputation across international markets, including strategic positioning on sustainability, D&I and stakeholder partnerships. Rostom joined GE in 2005 as a trusted advisor to GE’s regional president and CEO, Nabil Habayeb. In 2013, she became the first Arab woman to become a senior executive at GE globally. She has empowered the female workforce across the region and supported the growth of female employees from a few dozen in 2005 to more than 3,000, including more than 150 who have been nominated for global leadership programs. She founded the first regional hub of the Women’s Network and leads the global execution of GE’s Balance the Equation campaign, which seeks to hire 20,000 women in STEM roles by 2020. As chief innovation officer, Rostom defined what innovation meant for GE, establishing a model to create new ideas that support the company’s growth in a connected, digital world. She has made a place for GE as an essential part of the regional innovation ecosystem through customer co-creation efforts and partnerships, entrepreneurship and start-up programs, and open innovation challenges with global impact held in Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Turkey. These initiatives have all driven by network of regional GE Innovation Centers in KSA, Turkey, and the UAE, which she helped to found. Rostom is also the co-author of ‘Mapping the Future of Work in MENAT’ and the subsequent ‘2015 Outlook’ white paper that looks at the evolving face of what jobs will look like, and how we will do them, in the future.

How do you define innovation?
Innovation is creative collaboration and the power of the collective pushing us forward into new spaces and new ways of solving together.

What is the most innovative PR or marketing initiative you've seen over the past 12 months?
This one is so much more than just an initiative – this is the launch of a new business model, Neol, a community powered platform bringing together world's best and brightest minds to solve for tough challenges facing the world today.

In your opinion, which brands and/or agencies are most innovative in their approach to PR and marketing?
As sustainability becomes a core issue for businesses, it's equally critical for storytelling to shift in authentic ways that is core to a brand's mission and values. I have been impressed with how the fashion industry is celebrating craftsmanship through people stories, and spotlighting sustainability in the process. A great example is Chanel.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider to be innovative.
Launching the ‘Future of Work initiative, from white paper to campaign to thought leadership events. It was a holistic approach examining how accelerating change of technology impacts the way we work.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation? 
Innovation thrives in a culture of continuous improvement and learning. This concept comes from lean and in Japanese is called ‘kaizen’.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
Being in nature.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
I would encourage experimentation, to embrace innovation we have to create a culture where there is room for risk-taking.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
I’d be an astronaut.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has provided inspiration over the past year?
Right now, I am just loving being on the road again and traveling to new places – I truly enjoyed Hanoi, Vietnam!

How can the PR and communications industry harness innovation to make more progress on diversity, equity and inclusion?