Stephen Thomas | Influence 100
Charting the future of public relations

stephen-thomasStephen Thomas

Group Head, Corporate Communications
AIA Group

Stephen Thomas leads corporate communications for AIA Group, the largest independent publicly listed pan-Asian life insurance group, with operations in 17 markets in the Asia-Pacific region. Accordingly, Thomas oversees one of the region’s broadest communications remits, leading strategy and stakeholder engagement, serving as chief media liaison and aiming to convey a compelling narrative around AIA’s key reputation drivers — performance, strategy, leadership and major growth initiatives. 

Thomas’ experience as one of Asia’s most experienced financial services communicators stands him in good stead for the role. Before joining AIA, he spent seven years as head of corporate Affairs for Citigroup in China, based in Shanghai. Prior to his role at Citi, he worked at Burson-Marsteller in Melbourne and Hong Kong. 

What do you consider your career highlight?
There have been many memorable career moments, in locations all around the massively diverse Asia-Pacific region. That said I remain optimistic that the best highlights still lie ahead.

What is the best advice you ever received?
Find a pursuit that will energise you and consume you so that each day, you rise with a restless enthusiasm.

What is your favorite PR campaign?
GE’s “look ahead” initiative done in partnership with The Economist, which is a great example of corporates partnering with media organisations to co-create and publish thought leadership content.

What do you enjoy most about working in PR?
Exposure to interesting experiences - there is never a dull moment!

What was your biggest career break?
Being given an entry level role at Burson-Marsteller in Melbourne, a year after pestering them to give me a chance.

Who was your mentor and why?
No single individual but over the journey I have been fortunate to have a number of senior people from the field of PR and Marketing as well as several CEOs give me important guidance, support and encouragement.

Who inspires you?
My family and from a career perspective, Harold Burson not only for his tremendous achievements but for his generosity in giving those who seek it his time and advice.

What are your favorite media, offline and online?
Content found via LinkedIn and Twitter, theage.com.au and Holmesreport!

What is your favorite gadget?
Photo apps for the i-Phone…

In one sentence, sell a career in communications to a new graduate.
An opportunity to work with a diverse array of interesting people and to have memorable experiences while doing a job that, done well, is highly valued by others.

What is your favorite city for business travel?
Singapore