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Francois Baird
Former Chairman, Africa at Edelman, Founder of Baird’s US, and Co-Chairman of Baird’s CMC

Francois Baird is the former chairman, Africa at Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm, founder of Washington based consultancy and investment firm Baird’s US, founder and former chairman of Baird’s Renaissance, a communication management consultancy based in Johannesburg, which was recently acquired by Edelman, as well as a founder and co-chairman of British headquartered international communications management consultancy, Baird’s CMC. He has conducted successful campaigns for governments, multi-lateral organisations, multi-national companies and international NGOs in 34 African countries.

Francois consults internationally on issues, communication and management strategy. His specialties are public affairs, corporate reputation risk assessment and management, communication strategy and crisis management.

He has a special interest in developing countries. He is a member of the Advisory Board at the Ocean Security Initiative, an international NGO focused on the convergence of security issues related to the world’s oceans and of the Board of the Centre for Communication and Reputation Management at the University of Pretoria.

He first worked in Africa outside South Africa in1988, helping Sappi Forests with a transaction in Mozambique. Over the years he has managed election campaigns for President Chiluba of Zambia, for President Chissano in Mozambique and advised on election campaigns in various other African countries. He consults to governments, institutions and companies across Africa.

Francois grew up on a farm in the Northwest province, started his career on the gold mines, attained a degree in international politics and political science at the University of Pretoria, served as a commissioned officer in the SA Air Force and founded his own business in 1987, following various corporate management positions at Gold Fields of SA, Small Business Development Corporation and Sappi, the South African multi-national forestry products company.