Syracuse University Magazine


Rani Raad ’97

Global Networking

Rani R. Raad remembers writing an e-mail to a close friend shortly after leaving Syracuse to take his first job, a research position with Turner Broadcasting in New York City. “I wrote him that I’d just started working for the parent company of CNN and that I thought I might like to move to London and pursue a career in the international communications business, something that would let me take advantage of my knowledge of the Middle East,” says Raad, a member of a Lebanese family who grew up in Dubai and is fluent in Arabic, French, and English. “In hindsight, reading that e-mail 15 years later, it is as if I had been gazing into a crystal ball. Somehow, I instinctually knew where I would end up.”

Crystal ball or not, Raad’s rise in the international television industry has been nothing short of meteoric. Within five years of joining Turner Broadcasting, he was promoted to vice president for regional advertising sales in the Middle East, Africa, and Southern Europe at CNN International’s London headquarters, which remains his base of operations. Seizing that opportunity, he developed what had been a minor business for the cable news giant into a core source of revenue, winning him a promotion to senior vice president of CNN’s international ad sales and business development. Last year, Raad was asked to extend his magic touch to Turner’s entertainment business in the Middle East, Africa, and Turkey, which includes distribution of such familiar brands as Turner Classic Movies and the Cartoon Network. At age 36, Raad emerged as a key international television executive in both news and entertainment. 

The velocity of Raad’s success may be explained in some part by his background in what he describes as a “media family.” His father, Ramzi Raad, heads TBWA/Raad, a leading advertising agency in the Middle East, and his brother Reda ’95, based in Dubai, is the company’s COO. “When I first arrived at Newhouse, I started out as a production student, but I switched to telecom management as I began realizing I had an affinity for the way the business is run,” Raad says. “I was particularly influenced by a course I took with Sheldon Gilbert in which we randomly drew names of U.S. cities from a hat and each of us had to build a television station there: establish call letters and a frequency, assemble a management team, create a programming schedule, present advertising sales packages, and so on. It was an extremely challenging yet highly beneficial course, and extraordinary preparation for my career.”  

Knowing the value of education to a career in communications, Raad hopes to help SU students by facilitating internships for them at CNN International and Turner Broadcasting. “We have bureaus in 45 countries and maintain offices in all the key cities in the world,” he says. “We’re really able to support students in their career aspirations. I want Syracuse students who are interested to come to the company by getting in touch with me.”   

Motivated by his belief in giving back to the University and a desire to honor his family, Raad looked into his heart last spring and found a way to address both needs through the establishment of the Mary Raad Endowed Scholarship Fund. Named in honor of his late grandmother, the scholarship is earmarked for undergraduates at the Newhouse School. “My grandmother, who lived in Beirut, was a great source of inspiration to me,” he says. “I always felt she was with me in everything I did, no matter how far away I was from her. She provided a moral compass for me. She was one of those people who always managed to see the good in people and to find the good in things. I still feel she is with me now.”     —David Marc