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SARINA REHAL
Vice-President
Crestview Strategy (Toronto office)

“Many businesses underestimate the impact of government decision making on their bottom line.  At Crestview Strategy, I spend every day helping corporations identify and move the needle on issues that may have downstream or direct effects on their operations.”

 WHY GOVERNMENT RELATIONS?

After several years in the NGO advocacy sector, I completed my MBA and wanted to find a way to work at the intersection of government and business.  Many businesses underestimate the impact of government decision making on their bottom line.  At Crestview Strategy, I spend every day helping corporations identify and move the needle on issues that may have downstream or direct effects on their operations. Most of my current work is centered around corporate reputation as it relates to government relations objectives.

PROUDEST CONTRIBUTION?

I worked with a multinational corporate client to shift from a decade long government relations approach where 2-3 in-house professionals met with government periodically, to a multi-year stakeholder engagement strategy to reposition the company’s reputation. This work involved interviews with different operational teams, stakeholder mapping, advocacy training, and development and reporting on key performance indicators.  Within 12 months, this company had sales teams, supply chain partners, and R&D team members all engaged in government relations and corporate reputation work. Government relations is more than direct meetings, and corporate reputation is more than writing a cheque to a charity.  This work was a success by helping a company evolve and break GR out of a silo and bring forth cross-company efforts to deliver wins.

 A BEST PRACTICE IN GOVERNMENT RELATIONS IS...

Always put strategy first, and always define what success looks like.  It’s easy to get lost in a list of tactics and undertake meeting after meeting only to lose sight of what the win is.

IS THERE AN UNEXPECTED SKILL WHICH YOU HAVE DISCOVERED IS ALSO IMPORTANT TO THE FIELD? HOW HAS IT HELPED AS YOU MOVE INTO LEADERSHIP POSITIONS?

Client management.  Many people have a background in government and are experts in understanding how governments operate, who’s making decisions and how to influence them.  It’s equally important to understand your client’s goals, how they operate within the company, what the corporate culture is, relevant industry dynamics, and how to deliver support for their success.  On complex high-stakes files, your work goes beyond direct government relations. 

ANY PRACTICAL ADVICE FOR CONDUCT WORK IN THIS REMOTE ENVIROMENT?

It’s cliché now, but you have to set boundaries. Put your phone down sometimes. It’s easy to constantly check your email, news alerts, and Twitter.  This isn’t a productive way to spend your time and ends up diminishing your output.

FINAL THOUGHTS TO OUR COMMUNITY?

It’s important we get out of our political bubbles.  Not just across the aisle with friends in different parties, but with those in our networks who aren’t political or are less engaged.  Getting perspective from people who have different backgrounds—personally and professionally—can help us refresh how we think about issues. 

About Crestview Strategy

Crestview Strategy is an international public affairs agency with more than 85 consultants working from Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington, D.C. and London, U.K, Our team of professionals have worked with multi-national corporations, associations and not-for-profit organizations alike in helping them achieve their strategic objectives. For more information visit www.crestviewstrategy.ca or follow Crestview Strategy on Twitter @crestview_strat.

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