Rob Mariani, is Vice President and Group Leader, Public Engagement at Hill + Knowlton Strategies in Ottawa.

Ten years ago Rob co-founded Ascentum with his business partner and fellow Telfer MBA Alumnus Joseph Peters.  From a small office in Ottawa's Somerset Village, the firm set out to change the way organizations engage their publics.  They developed tools and approaches, both online and in-person that enabled informed participation.  Informed participation can be described as what happens when issues meet context.  It is an enriched knowledge gathering process that produces meaningful dialogue and supports different degrees of involvement in the decision-making life cycle.  

In the market place, this offering represented a shift from the traditional 'top of mind' approach to gathering citizen and stakeholder feedback.  Informed participation makes a difference because of the complexity of issues facing today’s organizations.  With context, facts and background, participants are better equipped to provide their diverse perspectives helping organizations make more robust and sustainable decisions.

Over the ten year span Rob led a number of initiatives across the government, not-for-profit and business sectors.  He participated in public policy development, strategic business planning, program and service delivery, and business transformation.  As project lead Rob often called upon this background in Quality and Process management from his time spent at Mitel to help deliver projects on time, within budget, and most importantly of the highest quality.

Today, Rob looks forward to a new horizon. In August of this year Hill + Knowlton Strategies announced the acquisition of Ascentum.  H+K is the top-rated strategic communications firm in Canada, a leader in both public relations (PR) and public affairs (PA).  As Vice President and Group Leader of the newly formed Public Engagement group,  Rob's goal is to support the evolution of PR and PA from an industry that has been traditionally more about telling a story, to one that is involved in the creation of the story by engaging stakeholders and citizens in that process.

For H+K CEO Mike Coates the integration of public engagement into the current service mix represents an opportunity to redefine how the agency uses their relationships to help clients achieve their goals.  For Rob and the Public Engagement group, it provides a spring board to continue to grow and expand what started as an Ottawa grown business by two MBA alumni over a decade ago.

Rob volunteers his time with the Telfer School of Management as a mentor in its Executive Mentoring Program.