ACAMS’ Vice President of Global Strategic Communications and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Lash Kaur spoke to ACAMS Today about her responsibility for leading the organization’s stakeholder relations, which includes employee and external communications, all social impact initiatives and advisory board relations, and is newly responsible for ACAMS’ environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategic planning and reporting. In addition, Kaur oversees the organization’s expansive global chapter network.
Kaur joined ACAMS in January 2019 as she was drawn to the remarkable social impact opportunities at ACAMS and the role presented, most notably, playing a role in fighting modern-day slavery and human trafficking (HT). Through her work and the robust cross-functional partnerships Kaur and her team have created, she works intentionally to elevate ACAMS’ world-class expertise, thought leadership and global positioning, all in an effort to initiate deep, meaningful and measurable change in the world of financial crime prevention.
Prior to joining ACAMS, Kaur was the regional head of communications for Laureate Education, Inc., a NASDAQ-listed education company. In her capacity as vice president of communications for the European, Middle Eastern, African and Asian (EMEAA) regions, she drove brand building, change management and social impact initiatives across the region.
ACAMS Today (AT): What drew you to ACAMS? What was it about the organization that inspired your interest?
Lash Kaur (LK): I have always been drawn to mission-driven roles and spent the decade prior to ACAMS in the education space, where we offered opportunities to students in countries where education was often a privilege and not a right. I was tapped for the role at ACAMS in the fall of 2018, and I did not need much persuasion, as I was immediately drawn to the mission. The thought of joining an organization that could drive deep and measurable change in the world was impossible to resist.
AT: What does a typical workday look like for you?
LK: To be frank, no two days are the same, as my role covers a range of responsibilities. I may start my day discussing a new scholarship or a mentorship initiative for Black, Indigenous and people of color, move on to discussing press release angles and end it with a meeting to discuss an interview with the Financial Action Task Force president. The thread that ties everything together is our mission, but every day consists of me and my team furthering our relationships across the organization, establishing new partnerships or opportunities that can advance brand awareness, enrich engagement and ultimately further the impact we can have in the world.
AT: What aspect of your job do you enjoy the most?
LK: I think “mission-driven” is quite an overplayed term (in general), but what I love most about my role and ACAMS is that it is unequivocally true here. As a communications practitioner, authenticity is key. And through my role here at ACAMS, I know that we can show up every day and truly, authentically be who we are, what we say we are—and with impactful, industry-leading results. We are so steadfast in our mission to fight financial crime and ultimately aid in stopping the subsequent harm that financial crimes fund, such as modern-day slavery, HT and illegal wildlife trade. Being at the epicenter of this commitment motivates, inspires and really excites me every single day.
AT: How did your prior experience with Laureate Education, Inc., your own communications company and working as a journalist prepare you for your role at ACAMS?
LK: During my time at Laureate, my experiences varied so much that it was almost surreal. I coordinated visits by former global leaders such as President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and in parallel mentored and partnered students from the most impoverished communities and worked on sustainability projects with female inmates in one of the largest prison complexes in South Asia. The time with Laureate has helped me tremendously in my current role, as I had deep operational experience and learned to work across geographies. I saw the power of stakeholder engagement and I love having the ability to engage key stakeholders to be a driving force in my current role. My prior roles also rooted me in the world of social impact. The ability to drive measurable and long-term impact that could be shared with the world through data storytelling meant that I was often a change agent.
AT: What changes have you seen at ACAMS since you joined in 2019?
LK: ACAMS has evolved tremendously since I joined. We are much more focused on our mission, our community, and our ability to educate, inform and convene. For instance, we have launched five free social impact certificates since 2020 that strive to end HT,1 modern slavery,2 illegal wildlife trade3 and online child exploitation.4 Of those certificates, there have been more than 40,000 enrollments that span more than 100 countries to date. We continue to innovate and provide solutions for the world’s most pressing issues and that is very meaningful to be part of and lead! We have an incredibly impressive, thoughtful, world-class thought leadership team that provides guidance and resources on the most critical issues in a timely manner. We have an engaged global community that stayed together during the darkest days of the global pandemic. The ACAMS team continues to grow in strength (and force) each day and we have a great leadership team. While a lot has changed over the years, one element that I believe is very special to our organization is that the people are good, the people are passionate and dedicated; it creates our “soul” per se, and the energy is inspiring, impactful and I know it will deliver more good in the world. From a personal standpoint, being a woman of color from Asia, I love and celebrate the opportunity to be recognized for my abilities, achievements and the fantastic relationships I have developed across the organization.
AT: What do you like to do when you are off the clock?
LK: I am like a plant that needs the sun and fresh air to thrive! Being outdoors invigorates me and I love nature treks and hikes. I also mentor young people who keep me on my toes and challenge me on a regular basis. And when I really want to unwind and disconnect, I pick up a book and turn to my favorite playlist on Spotify!
Interviewed by: ACAMS Today editorial, ACAMS, firstname.lastname@example.org
- For more information about ACAMS’ Fighting Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Part 1 certificate, please visit: https://www.acams.org/en/training/certificates/fighting-modern-slavery-and-human-trafficking; For more information about ACAMS’ Fighting Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Part 2: U.S. Sex & Exploitation Cases certificate, please visit: https://www.acams.org/en/training/certificates/fighting-modern-slavery-and-human-trafficking-part-2
- For more information about ACAMS’ Ending Illegal Wildlife Trade—A Comprehensive Overview certificate, please visit: https://www.acams.org/en/training/certificates/ending-illegal-wildlife-trade; For more information about ACAMS’ Ending Illegal Wildlife Trade—A Practical Guide for Law Enforcement, please visit: https://www.acams.org/en/training/certificates/ending-illegal-wildlife-trade-a-practical-guide-for-law-enforcement
- For more information about ACAMS’ Preventing Online Child Exploitation with Financial Intelligence: An Overview certificate, please visit: https://www.acams.org/en/training/certificates/preventing-online-child-exploitation-with-financial-intelligence-an-overview#overview-e430ae7c