About Rasha Zaki, Head of Communications, Cisco Middle East and Africa

I am presently the Head of Communications for the Middle East and Africa at Cisco, the leading multinational technology company. Based in Dubai, I oversee Corporate Communications across 74 countries, where I set the tone for messaging while portraying the organization’s values and key business priorities across the vast region. 

With over 20 years of experience in the B2B Communications and Marketing fields, in some of the largest technology firms in the world such as IBM, Ericsson and Nokia Networks; I am very proud that I landed now at Cisco. 

I currently lead a team of skilled professionals who help to craft our integrated communications strategy for the organization in the region, delivering across key external and internal channels. 

My path was linear. I studied mass communications and was lucky to get my first job in marketing and communications at a multinational tech company, where I worked for the first five years of my career; and since then, I have admired the industry. Throughout my professional journey, I have always been fascinated by the art of elevating a brand and developing the identity of an organization – especially in the dynamic world of technology. It is a complex and multidisciplinary process, that requires a vibrant mix of skills. 

A bit of personal piece of info about me: my role model of all times is my mother. She was a one-of-a-kind woman. Strong, brave, tenacious, caring… the list could go on. 

About her thoughts for the industry

Having worked out of Egypt, Morocco and now the UAE, one thing I’ve learned in our very diversified and multicultural region is that the role of Corporate Communications has become more and more key for organizations. It will never go out of fashion –it is continuously evolving. 

In a digitally connected world, the function has forever changed with new expectations and rules of engagement – especially in the last few years. Communications today must be integrated, agile, multifaceted, and data driven. It has also matured to become more multichannel than ever before, employing a paid, earned, social, owned approach. Hence, we – as leaders – must adapt to remain relevant to our audiences. 

On the other hand, the days are gone when marketing and communications professionals once operated in separate silos. Today, the lines have blurred between the two professions:  communicators are working more closely with marketing, at times, even sharing budgets and KPIs.  

With these changes sweeping our industry, i believe it is imperative to acquire and develop the right skill sets. Upskilling and reskilling is extremely vital in this fast-changing sector. What I have learned throughout my career is that I should never lose my curiosity to learn even after spending a few years in managerial roles. We never stop learning. 

Finally, my advice to communicators; be willing to roll up your sleeves and get into the deep end of your company’s business and narratives. I don’t often start out projects with knowing the answers, but I have to be willing to dive into the unknown, and to look for opportunities to contribute at my company that will also give me key skills. Be ready to fail, for if you are not, you are not trying new areas of growth that are out of your comfort zone. To me, this is invaluable. Dream big. Set bold goals. When we are slightly scared of our goals, that is exactly the right place to be. It starts the engine of real growth.