“You can never be overdressed or overeducated” was one of the many pearls of wisdom that acclaimed writer, poet and controversialist Oscar Wilde gave the world. The gist of his message being that mastery of a craft lay in always expanding the horizons and seeking new knowledge through academic endeavour. He also saw nothing wrong with wearing a blouse with a denim dungaree and silk waistcoat at evening cocktails, but that’s beside the point. This article is not a sartorial critique, rather a profile of another PRISA blueblood and APR Riana Sinden.
Training, support and management, consultant and corporate specialist, Riana is what is known in the field as an “all-rounder”. As this highly technical term suggests, Riana skills are balanced and suited to a variety of roles within the public relations and communication profession. In addition, Riana has given back to growing the body of knowledge as an academic. She also has a passion for Early Childhood Development (ECD), where she rolls up her sleeves and gives her most valuable commodity, time, for free. Without ending up in the land of Hyperbole and liquid platitudes that are no sooner forgotten as they are spewed forth, it would be remiss not to chronicle this remarkable women’s progression to APR status.
Riana gained entry into the world of public relations 17 years ago. Callow and raw, she did the most sensible thing and joined PRISA as a member in 1997. This association was and still is a fruitful one that many would do well to follow. Being exposed to countless facets within the profession, Riana found a specialisation to focus her substantial abilities on- internal and external stakeholder communication.
Holding several qualifications in public relations management, Riana studiously ploughed through her scholarly pursuit. By displaying the virtues of patience, hard work and intellectual vitality; Riana did exceedingly well. She recently completed her Masters degree through the Tshwane University of Technology. Her dissertation is titled “Successful Client-Consultant Relationships: A Public Relations Consultant Perspective” and is a much welcomed addition to PRISA’s schema for communication. The paucity of South African perspective leaves a glaring hole in the global advancement of public relations as a strategic corporate function and the efforts of APR’s such as Riana should be appreciated and applauded.
However, Riana has not chosen to sit in an intellectual ivory tower and she has carved out an impressive track record as a communicator, businesswomen and training facilitator.
Her involvement with the PRISA Education and Training Centre stretches back many years. Starting off as an intern, Riana worked as a full time for close to six years. She was also responsible for the structuring and leadership of the communication division of CHC Group (Pty) Ltd. As a sole proprietor, she has provided her insights and abilities in a consultant capacity to a diverse client portfolio.
Riana’s experience, competence and achievement (professionally and academically) made her an ideal candidate to become an Accredited in Public Relations practitioner. She obtained her APR status in 2011 and as expected of her internationally recognised designation, she has continued to be a leader within her field.
She has described her accreditation as a “professional confirmation of experience, skills and opportunity for professional networking across diverse field and sectors.” This has served her well in her new role as an internal communication specialist in the financial services/banking sector.
This confirmation allows her to provide strategic communication management advice to the leadership of the ABSA Retail and Business Banking (RBB) chief operating officer. As she explains “… the role includes the proactive management of internal and external communication solutions to reach and influence audiences across the group in the achievement of specific communication objectives and programmes...”
As a strategist who has been involved with PRISA for so many years, her views on its future are intriguing. Not surprisingly, they are in line with the objectives and goals outlined by PRISA last year after its strategy session. According to Riana, PRISA must become the “one stop shop for public relations practitioners/professionals across Africa aiming to upgrade skill, expand knowledge, network with peers and build on the development of our industry’s collective know-how”.
Looking forward, Riana plans to continue to cultivate her academic instincts and pursue her doctoral studies in strategic communication management that will focus on leadership and change communication. She also wants to water the fertile minds of young sprouts by volunteering her time on community projects that focus on the development of little children.
As Voltaire, another intellectual titan said: “Let us cultivate our garden”.
Written by Sandile Xaso