Steve Thomas | Influence 100
Charting the future of public relations
steve-thomas

Steve Thomas

Head of Group Branding and Communications
AIA
Hong Kong, Asia-Pacific

 

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.

Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR's direct impact on business performance?
I see it every day through the work done to help the business: engage and inspire employees, convey its strengths and progress through the media, live and breathe its brand, manage issues, reach out to community groups, liaise with investors and so on.

What do you love about this industry?
The diversity of the work and the interesting people you meet.

What most frustrates you about this industry?
The tendency to navel gaze.

What are the communications industry's biggest challenges and opportunities?
In the corporate context, to demonstrate it can generate more business value than ever. This is both the challenge and the opportunity.

How do you relax or change pace when you're not at work?
Reading for pleasure, working out, watching film and television and taking my boys to a variety of sporting activities each weekend.

Can you share a book/movie/TV show/podcast that teaches a valuable lesson about PR?
A podcast known as Inside PR.

If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
Finding an opportunity to start and build my own business.