Communicate spoke with Alex Malouf to learn more about his plans as the newly appointed co-chair of the Gulf Chapter of the APACD
The Asia-Pacific Association of Communication Directors (APACD) launched its Gulf Chapter last week with the appointment of co-chairs Alex Malouf and Saba Al Busaidi. Communicate caught up with Alex Malouf, to learn more about his plans as the co-chair and about the need for industry bodies today.
Could you give me a short overview of the APACD? What do they do? When were they formed? How do they operate?
The Asia-Pacific Association of Communication Directors (APACD) was founded in 2014 in recognition of the unique challenges and opportunities for communications leaders in this fast-changing region. Our members know only too well that one size does not fit all across a region that is seeing remarkable economic, social and cultural change. Against this backdrop, Asia-Pacific companies and organizations are expanding their operations rapidly to encompass a more global mindset, while MNCs become increasingly sophisticated in terms of their Asia-Pacific engagement strategies. For communicators of all stripes, whether at MNCs, associations, institutions or politics, an international perspective is as crucial to their work, as in-depth local knowledge.
Meanwhile, at a time of rapid economic and technological transformation, the communications profession has never been more valuable to an organization’s purpose, mission and strategy. The relationship between business and society is being redrawn before our eyes, calling on communication directors to navigate a new reality, in terms of stakeholder capitalism and the convergence of marketing and communications.
The APACD aims to help our members understand and capitalise from all of these trends by providing a peer network for mid- to senior-level communication professionals from all fields and industries across the Asia-Pacific region, to discuss and formulate solutions for current communication challenges. We aim to establish common quality standards and advanced professional qualifications within the field through a vibrant event calendar, informative media. awards recognition and knowledge-sharing.
At its core- APACD offers a platform of networking and exchange for members and friends, and advances the visibility and reputation of the in-house communications profession. It is committed to fostering diversity, overcoming cultural barriers and formulating standards, underpinning the development of an Asia-Pacific communications culture as a strong voice in today’s world.
What are the reasons for their expansion into the Middle East?
There’s much we can learn from our colleagues across the Asia-Pacific region. Our cultures are similar in many ways, as are our societies and governance structures. Asia is home to a number of rapidly growing and established communication hubs, such as Singapore and Hong Kong. And there’s the growing importance of the communications function to organizations across Asia-Pacific. I firmly believe that we have much to share in terms of learnings and experiences that will benefit communicators throughout the region.
What are your goals as Co-chair for the Gulf Chapter of the APACD?
I want us to share learnings, build abilities and talk about issues of common interest to us all. I’m looking forward to building a vibrant, local APACD chapter along with my co-chair Saba Al-Busaidy, and developing a series of activities that’ll bring the best of communications across Asia-Pacific to the Gulf as well as share our own expertise with the wider region.
What challenges do you expect to face on the road ahead?
There are misperceptions about the communications [profession] in the Asia-Pacific region; I’ve heard that it’s [perceived as] inferior to or not as good as that practiced in the West. I’d argue to the contrary. Asian communicators have had to deal with financial crashes, pandemic and a host of other issues which [makes them] stand them apart in their experiences and expertise. We have much to learn from our fellows in Asia-Pacific, and we need to begin by casting off any misperceptions.
On a broader note, have you noticed an increase in the need for industry bodies during this point in time? If so, what do you think could be the reasons for it?
There’s a huge need for knowledge-sharing, reskilling and mental well-being support right now. And proactive industry bodies can fill this need. The challenge is how do associations do this while retaining members, many of whom will have lost their jobs. The best associations have been able to offer this support, whilst also being aware of all the pressures on members and accommodating their issues. I’m very grateful for the industry bodies that I’m part of, including the CIPR, IABC, and the PRCA, for what they’ve done for their membership over the past 18 months.