Aaron Sherinian | Influence 100
Charting the future of public relations
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Aaron Sherinian

Director Global Communications
Aga Khan Development Network
France, Europe

@Asherinian

 

Aaron Sherinian, who was chief communications and marketing officer for the United Nations Foundation for eight years, took up a new post as director of global communications last year at the Aga Khan Development Network, an organisation with a 60-year heritage creating schools and hospitals, newspapers and electricity generation plants, and social programmes.

The network employs 80,000 people around the world, and Sherinian says he is “committed to learning about how trends in international engagement, policy priorities around global development, communities inspired by faith, and a new era of dialogue around philanthropy, corporate social responsibility and impact investing are coming together to create a new era of global action and awareness.”

Before joining the UN Foundation, Sherinian served as managing director of public affairs for the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a US government development assistance agency administering poverty reduction grants totalling over $7 billion in 40 partner countries.

His professional background also includes a decade of service as a foreign service officer for the US Department of State.

Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR's direct impact on business performance?

PR was a key driver in helping people demand greater accountability, transparency and impact in global development projects throughout the Bush and Obama Administrations. The positive impact of PR to engage with lawmakers and influencers and voters in the US brought about a constructive dialogue that improved performance...and the global dialogue around economic progress and development.

What do you love about this industry?
I love the willingness to explore – and embrace – fresh ideas.

What most frustrates you about this industry?
The industry has the greatest capability – of perhaps any industry – to shine light on issues that require global action. There are some within the industry who recognise this power and harness it. But there are others who have yet to realise that, unless we focus on the future together, there won't be anything left for the industry. Social impact is not a "niche" area or specialisation area for our industry...it should be treated as core to the business.

What are the communications industry's biggest challenges and opportunities?
The changing nature of the news industry, and consumption in news, is a major challenge. But it is also an opportunity if brands and organizations can find ways to partner with media funders in a real way as this transition takes place.

How do you relax or change pace when you're not at work?
Travelling and eating!

Can you share a book/movie/TV show/podcast that teaches a valuable lesson about PR?
While it may be familiar to many, I still ask every new hire in my teams to read “Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath.

If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
I would like to be thinking about how to build engagement between communities of influence (including faith and culture) to become more active in the social development sector.