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The Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity – Dawn of a New Light on All Our Horizons

Corporate Reputation, Culture

Last weekend, an Edelman team saw the fulfilment of years of endeavour in helping launch the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, an annual $1m award to shine a light on unsung humanitarians. The Prize is part of a process of illumination, a process of showing the world people who work in defiance of menace, violence and awful circumstance to save lives.

Last weekend, an Edelman team saw the fulfilment of years of endeavour in helping launch the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, an annual $1m award to shine a light on unsung humanitarians. The Prize is part of a process of illumination, a process of showing the world people who work in defiance of menace, violence and awful circumstance to save lives.

The four finalists for the Prize exhibited extraordinary levels of commitment, compassion and an almost reckless lack of regard for their own safety and wellbeing. The prize was awarded in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, on the day that nation remember the 1.5 million people who died during the genocide that was raging 100 years ago.

Syeda Ghulam Fatima freed more than 80,000 people, many children, from slavery in Pakistan, victims of forced labour who worked in the most horrendous conditions making bricks. She has been abused, threatened with violence and seen her brother beaten so badly that he is permanently disabled. Her campaign to free children and adults from bonded labor continues.

Dr Tom Catena is the only resident doctor working in the harrowing conditions of the Nuba mountains of South Sudan. For more than 5 years, he has worked day and night in a remote and poorly equipped hospital treating the injured from Sudan’s largely forgotten civil war. A Skype call recorded for the Aurora Prize ceremony with Dr Tom was interrupted by the arrival of a truck load of casualties.

Father Bernard Kinvi has treated the victims of the Central African Republic’s brutal civil war without judgement or prejudice. He has helped those caught up in sectarian violence, described as “massive ethnic religious cleansing”, and offered sanctuary and safety to hundreds of children. He does this in spite of witnessing death up close, including the murder of his younger sister in their native Togo. His own life has been threatened countless times.

BUT, the first Aurora Laureate whose nominated charities received $1m was Marguerite Barankitse from Burundi. Marguerite bore witness to the most heinous acts of violence, dismemberment, beheadings, torture and massacres and the murder of her own children. But despite all of this, she believes that universal humanity transcends all obstacles.

Ms Barankitse, has walked into war zones to rescue children, offering a second chance through her charity, Maison Shalom to more than 20,000 children orphaned by the civil war or AIDS. Today she campaigns to free imprisoned children throughout Burundi and those refugees who are now in neighbouring Rwanda.

But these weren’t the only heroes of last weekend. Representatives from most of the large NGOs and humanitarian organisations were represented, as well as other activists working on the ground.

This group included the inspirational Josephine Kulea, a young woman who has so far rescued over 1,000 young girls from abuse and forced marriage, some of them as young as 7 and placed them in schools. A woman whose work has been recognised by President Obama, Miss Kulea was in action just days before flying to Armenia, rescuing an 8-year-old girl who had been forced to marry a 50-year-old elder from the Samburu tribe.

Alongside, the Aurora Prize, I had the privilege of chairing a humanitarian conference, the Aurora Dialogues. The event we hope will become an annual meeting of humanitarians designed to share best practice and focus on some of the most pressing issues we face. It was no surprise that one of the biggest topics during the day of discussions was the current refugee crisis.

Research conducted in six countries by Edelman, The Humanitarian Index, revealed the paradox at the heart of tackling the refugee crisis. Everyone ranks the refugee crisis as one of the world’s most pressing, and they believe the international community should be responsible for resolving it, however, they feel this isn’t happening. Not only that, at an individual level there is a sense that nothing can be done. Individual action cannot change the tide of misery.

But that shouldn’t be the case. Gareth Evans, President Emeritus of International Crisis Group, and former Foreign Minister of Australia, pointed to public opinion as one of the most influential drivers of policy change. “Put the political heat on,” he said, “action happens when politicians feel they are under siege”. The media, journalist David Ignatius, pointed out, played a vital role in reporting on the crisis and galvanising public opinion.

While institutions like governments and media, are critical, if the weekend taught us anything, it was that personal actions matter. As Marguerite Barankitse put it, “don’t ever sit down”. She and the other finalists, and women like Josephine Kulea, demonstrate that one individual can have a disproportionate impact on humanity. These people show us that we can make a difference and we can do that by impacting one life at a time.

They show us that, even when confronted with the most unimaginable horror, humanity will still arise, like the dawn, every day.

Minute Mentoring: Connecting leaders with Edelman's Global Women's Executive Network

Careers, Culture

Following International Women’s Day, Edelman UK hosted Minute Mentoring event as part of our Global Women's Executive Network (GWEN) programme. Minute Mentoring offered employees of all levels and gender the opportunity to speak openly with some of London's most senior leaders about their career aspirations, concerns and advice.

Following International Women’s Day, Edelman UK hosted Minute Mentoring event as part of our Global Women’s Executive Network (GWEN) programme. GWEN is an empowered group of people who are committed to networking, mentoring, recruiting, collaborating and career planning for women at Edelman – with the objective to increase the presence of women leaders at the most senior levels of Edelman.

Minute Mentoring offered employees of all levels and gender the opportunity to speak openly with some of London’s most senior leaders about their career aspirations, concerns and advice. Below, participants and mentors share their experience.

Khyati Modgil, Assistant Account Executive, Edelman Graduate 2016:

Amongst the many things that have stood out since joining Edelman on the graduate scheme eight months ago, the company’s outlook and support of women in the workplace is a clear forerunner.

From my first coffee with senior female leadership and the open-door policy thereafter, to the ability to work from home in my new team, it’s a privilege to be at a company that doesn’t just talk the talk – it walks the walk.

Attending GWEN’s minute mentoring session was yet another lesson in encouragement. Hosted informally at lunchtime, any and every employee in the business could attend the half hour session and talk work, life and aspiration with the likes of Stephanie Lvovich (Global Chair of Public Affairs), Matt Hurst (UK & Ireland COO) and Anji Hunter (Senior Advisor).

As is so often the case at Edelman, no question was deemed too big or too small. In fact, my own questions – very much reflective of my role as an AAE – were answered with as much enthusiasm and sincerity as those of the Director sitting next to me. Similarly, whilst day-to-day responsibilities contrasted greatly amongst us, the same take-homes applied across the board; namely, thinking big, grabbing opportunities, investing in self-growth, nurturing your personal life and believing in one’s self.

Working at Edelman is synonymous with ambition. We all work incredibly hard to deliver the best possible work for our clients and with deadlines and daily commitments sometimes it is hard to see the wood from the trees. Half an hour of mentoring with those who’ve been there and (incredibly successfully) done that reminded me of the bigger picture, of my personal goals and I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.

Raeesa Chowdhury, Account Manager, Smithfield:

The GWEN mentoring session was a great way to get an insight into the non-PR related experiences of the business’s leadership. Having recently joined the Edelman family and the industry, it was  great for me to learn that the business values “alternative” experience and encourages people to pursue their passions and strengths, both during and outside office hours.

It is clear that the standards at Edelman are high but inspiring to learn that even those in leadership positions went through phases of uncertainty and doubt. The option of having a mentor at Edelman, who is not necessarily related to the regular beat of work, is really useful for both the experienced and the new in this industry. For me, it is the ideal way to make sure that personal development is being guided from every angle.

Stephanie Lvovich, Global Public Affairs Chair, GWEN Mentor:

Mentoring is one of the most important things that senior people, especially women, can do to develop the next generation of talent. It adds value to the organisation and to the people who engage in the conversation. It is critical that we give unfiltered access to those with more substantial professional experience to the staff who are just starting out – to help them to avoid the pitfalls that we encountered and to support them to support professional situations with better judgement and cues of how they can maximise their experience. The one thing I always try to convey in these sessions to women is to ‘silence the echo’ – that voice is your head that represents self-doubt and can fuel self-doubt. Women should ensure that they are truly an advocate for themselves, which is often the biggest barrier to overcome.    

To find out more about GWEN, please click here.

EU Referendum Briefing: Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Government Affairs

With just two months to go, polls show the outcome of vote on a knife edge. So how do the two campaigns stack up? Luke Moore, VP EMEA and APAC, Crimson Hexagon offers an online analysis in this week's EU Referendum Briefing.

With just two months to go, polls show the outcome of vote on a knife edge.

The Financial Times’ aggregation of polling data indicates a 43:42 per cent split in slight favour of remaining in the EU and with this month’s appointment of Vote Leave and Britain Stronger in Europe as the official campaign groups, the fight around the EU referendum has intensified. The closeness of the race bears a striking resemblance to polls ahead of the Scottish independence referendum, and indicates that the UK’s position in Europe really does hang in the balance.

But while the polls suggest an almost even divide, it is the “undecided” electorate that plays the most intriguing role. It’s currently estimated that 13 per cent of voters are yet to make up their mind, this represents almost 6 million people – more than the entire population of Scotland.

It is here that the role of communications becomes so vitally important. Ultimately, it will be the narrative that best captures the hearts and minds of the electorate over the next two months that will prosper on June 23rd.

So how do the two campaigns stack up? Luke Moore, VP EMEA and APAC, Crimson Hexagon offers an online analysis in Edelman’s latest EU Referendum Briefing.* To read it, please click here.

We also spoke to Edelman colleagues around our network, providing perspectives on Brexit from the UK, the US, Brussels and South East Asia, in the videos below.


For more information, please contact Gurpreet Brar on 020 3047 2466 or at

*Crimson Hexagon is a client in Edelman London’s office.

Career Spotlight: Hannah, HR Project Co-Ordinator

Careers, Culture

Hannah started at Edelman as HR Administrator and recently took on the role of HR Project Co-ordinator. Here she tells us what she has learnt so far, and what sparked an interest in project management.

As HR Project Co-ordinator, Hannah provides support in the successful end to end delivery, communication and embedding of key HR project initiatives. She started her career in the fashion industry and has over three years’ experience within Human Resources.

Tell us about your time at Edelman so far.

When I first came to Edelman, I joined as a HR Administrator. I was excited to join such a vibrant and innovative company, and had the chance to marry two areas which I enjoyed being involved in: HR and Marketing Communications. After being at Edelman for just over a year, I spoke to my line manager about my long-term career aspirations lying in HR project management, and took the step up to HR Project Co-ordinator.

When did you become interested in project management?

Last May, I worked on Edelman’s first ever Wellbeing Week which sparked an interest in project-based work.My studies at the London College of Fashion and internships within PR have meant that I’ve always enjoyed being creative.

Being involved with all of the research and planning during Wellbeing Week was very rewarding. Alongside our HR Project Manager, I gathered insight into what wellbeing meant to Edelman UK employees, networked with external providers, created a budget, scheduled a programme of activities and then collated all the feedback to build a wellbeing programme for the next year. I really enjoyed getting my teeth into each task and felt a real sense of accomplishment after seeing a project through from start to finish.

What have you learnt from working in HR project management?

Since I’ve moved into the HR Project Co-coordinator role I’ve gained greater insight into a number of people initiatives which we run here at Edelman including the launch of our new online benefit platform (making benefits easier to manage for employees), our annual Graduate Scheme and global roll-outs such as our new on-boarding programme. I’ve also had the opportunity to network and build relationships both inside and outside of the business, working closely with the Marketing team, Europe HR and an array of external companies from providers who support our benefits to Nutritionists and even someone who climbed Mount Everest at the age of 22!

What challenges have you faced in changing roles?

The main challenge has been the shift from juggling a number of ongoing daily tasks to focussing on big projects which have different stages, their own timelines and an eventual end date. Spending large blocks of time on one task felt a tad unnatural at first as I was so used to speedily ticking off a to do list. I had to readjust my way of working and how I was managing my calendar to fit with the demands of my new role. Although this was a challenge at first, with guidance from my manager and the support of my team I’ve been able to change and optimise how I work and how I now use my time.

How do you think being at Edelman helped facilitate your move?

I think at Edelman there is a great deal of opportunity when it comes to career development and creating your own path, whether you choose your next move to be a vertical or lateral one.  If you’ve got that curiosity for an area which you perhaps haven’t been so involved in or have only experienced a taste of, I would say to speak up and let someone know, seek out the opportunities where you can be involved and show that you have an active interest.

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