Maliha Aqeel

Assistant Director, EY

Opening Keynote: Four Essential Skills To Keep Your Seat At The Table

Communicators can sometimes be the most valuable but least understood professionals in an organization. Despite the strides we’ve made in gaining a seat at the leadership table, we are still often seen as the writers, the party planners or the ones that “pretty up” the slide deck. We may have a seat the table, but holding on it means refreshing the skills we have and communicating the value we bring at every opportunity. It’s not enough to position yourself as a strategic adviser, you have to be one.

Effective communicators bring four essential skills to every interaction with leaders: strategic, creative, technical and social. If you want to rise to the top of your communication career, you can’t be a head-down, order taker. You have to find your voice, understand the business of your business and then, bring the big ideas, be able to sell them to your leaders and demonstrate ROI through effective and efficient execution.

 Attendees will learn:

  1. The core elements of each of these skillsets
  2. How to do “fewer, better, bigger” and be seen as a strategic adviser
  3. Examples and lessons learned from my personal experiences
  4. Tips and questions to ask when trying to build a business case for leaders
  5. Using metrics to show your value and that of your team


Maliha Aqeel is an award-winning, senior communicator with over 15 years of progressive experience in strategic communication. She is currently President of IABC/Toronto and Assistant Director, Brand, Marketing & Communications at EY, where she’s responsible for thought leadership development and integrated marketing communication campaigns.

Prior to joining EY in 2016, she led communication for the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD). Her accomplishments include development of a new ICD brand and the revamp of ICDs Director Journal, both of which won an IABC Gold Quill award of merit and an IABC Canada Silver Leaf award of excellence. Before moving client side, she spent several years in agency and led the financial communication practice for JiWin/APCO Worldwide’s Dubai office. In that role, she worked on global M&As and divestitures, crisis communication and public affairs engagements.

She is a Project Management Professional (PMP) and a Strategic Communication Management Professional (SCMP).