About Faten AlMasri, Chief Client Officer MENA, APCO Worldwide

Faten AlMasri has 20 years of experience in strategic communication analysis and development. She has been advising HNWI in the private and public sectors on issues & reputation management, brand management and interaction, crisis communication, social media interaction, and communication audits. She provides one-on-one media and public speaking training to chief executive officers and public officials and brings a diverse perspective and unique angles to any communication task.

Ms. AlMasri leads a number of APCO’s government client projects across the region, and, along with her team, provides a host of services ranging from capacity building in government communication to crisis protocol development. Ms. AlMasri led APCO’s team to work with the Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain to set up its National Communication Centre. She and the team developed the institutional design, worked on building capacity training key personnel, and drafted the Kingdom’s communication strategy & international outreach program.  

Before joining APCO, Ms. AlMasri served as the chief of staff and advisor to the mayor of Amman for communication & strategic affairs from 2008 until 2011. During her tenure, she spearheaded work to develop and build a robust and new age-driven communication directorate for the Greater Amman Municipality, Jordan’s largest civil organization. In addition to building capability, devising the communication strategy, and rolling out action plans, she advised the mayor of Amman on all matters pertaining to the mayor’s city agenda and public outreach. She also helped draft the city of Amman’s bidding dossier, which resulted in Amman being named as the host city for the 2016 Universal Forum of Cultures. Born in Kuwait, she grew up between Kuwait and Cairo and attended Marion Military Institute in Alabama, United States. After graduating, she served in the Jordanian Armed Forces.

About her thoughts for the industry

Four years ago, Lego released the findings of what has become a famous survey. On the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 Moon Landing, the toy  bricks company spoke to 3,000 eight to 12-year-olds to ask them what they wanted to be when they grew up – and see if being an astronaut was still as popular with today’s generation as it was for the generation that grew up watching Neil Armstrong take that “one small step for mankind”.

Among the children surveyed in the US and the UK, three times more children wanted to be influencers than astronauts – a sign of the times. More precisely, they wanted to be YouTubers. Among the children in China, more than half said they wanted to be astronauts.

I will bypass an analysis of what this tells us about the glaring polarity between the social dynamics of these two superpowers. Instead, I will focus on something that occurred to me when this Lego survey resurfaced in conversation with a colleague recently. It struck me that there was something missing from that survey – as it almost always is from surveys and research that focus on popular career paths in today’s youth: communicators.

Communications is not, nor has it ever been perceived as a popular career path. The “why” is still puzzling to me. Especially given the abundance of immensely talented leaders, thinkers and professionals who I’ve had the good fortune to work and collaborate with throughout my 20-plus year career in comms.

There is not, to my knowledge at least, any deep body of research that explores why so few pre-university-age students are even aware of the possibilities of a career in communications, let alone interested in pursuing a career in communications. Without wanting to push the academic agenda here, surely there is space for a professorial paper or two on this topic?

I digress. For years, other industries associated with communications have acted as conduits of talent, feeding into the communications pool. Journalists have often, and continue to, make the switch from the consumer-facing media side to communications – opting, usually towards the end of a hard-fought career in newsrooms, to channel their eye for attention-grabbing content into a brand, an entity or a figurehead. Likewise, people who started their working life in branding, creative design and advertising – all find a home and a place to hone and refine their skillsets on the broader canvas of communications.

In the sense of attracting talent, communications has been like a constantly flowing river that relies on its tributaries to sustain it. In another sense, the river of communications has remained at the centre of all the industries that stem from its constant flow of information.

So, why do more people not proactively seek a career in communications? The lack of a clear and definitive answer to this question is all the more puzzling given the fact that communications is, at its core, the essence of humanity itself. The ability to express ourselves clearly, comprehensibly, in language that is understood by our counterparts is the fundamental building block of the shared human experience. We are born with an innate ability to communicate and tell stories – which ultimately is what the profession is all about.

What’s more, the need for the soft skills required to become an all-round communicator have never been more in demand. Given the rapid rise of artificial intelligence and automotive technologies, we need critical thinkers and problem solvers.

Young people today are, on average, more highly qualified and educated than any preceding generation in history. And yet, these same young people are struggling to find a foothold in the job market. Governments are concerned about an ongoing mismatch between what societies and economies need and education provide.

A greater focus on the critical importance of good communicators is a good place to start. And it’s the responsibility of communications professionals to get the story of our industry out to them. This is, after all, what we do for clients and brands every day. We must inspire more young people to put our industry at the top of their career wish list, so that when the next survey to ask our young what they want to be when they grow up, communications is at least part of the conversation.