Where are they now? Hannah Pemberton (2009)

Posted on May 25, 2020

What path did you take after School to get where you are now?

After I graduated from Friends’ in 2009, I headed off to Winnipeg in Canada for a GAP year – working in a boarding school and travelling through North America at every given chance.

I then returned to Australia, where I began my BA in Media Communications and Sociology at the University of Melbourne. After a year and a half, I headed to the University of Manchester in the UK for a year on exchange, before returning to Australia for six months to finish my degree.

My teachers at Friends’ may remember that upon graduating from school, I had considered a career in law or journalism. After just a few months at University, I had a lecturer ask me what I wanted to be, and before I could clarify my answer, he said: “No, you’re a publicist.” I then endeavoured to grab every opportunity, through internships and volunteering, in an effort to get some experience before heading out into the big wide world. I was lucky enough to secure an internship at Havas Media, which fuelled my passion for the industry. 

The minute I finished up at University, I was back on a plane to the UK to forge my career. I lived in Newcastle upon Tyne for a year, but realised it was sadly no city to start a career in Comms. I moved to London at the beginning of 2016, with the offer of a role in a Fashion PR Agency.

Through my four years in London, I worked at three different fashion and lifestyle agencies. I can tell anyone interested in this career to get ready for LONG hours – I remember one launch season where I was in the office for up to 18 hours a day. But I loved every minute – to be living in a city that honestly feels like the centre of the universe, meeting incredible people, climbing the ranks and running off to the European continent every chance I got was an experience I’ll never regret.

As I came up to six years in the UK, it was a time of reflection. I’d had a lot of change in my life, and based on my upbringing and education at Friends’, I decided to look into different areas of PR where I could make a real difference in my work. While the perks in fashion are fabulous, helping people, animals and the environment were always far more important to me.

I was sitting at home when a job popped up at SBS, where they were looking for a publicist for NITV (National Indigenous Television). My parents are staunch advocates of Indigenous rights, and raised me to be the same, and it took me back to my Year 11 English Comms class with Sarah Walker passionately teaching us about the huge injustices across Australia. This role ticked every box in what I was looking for. 

In a lovely turn of events, I got a call from SBS’ Head of Publicity as I was travelling through Budapest last year offering me the role upon my return to Australia.

Where are you now? What are you doing professionally?

Last August, I moved back to Australia and started my role at SBS in Sydney, as the lead publicist for our Indigenous channel, NITV. I actually work alongside Peter Jones’ goddaughter, Sophie!

In my time at the channel, my team and I have launched our partnership with the AFL, covered the closure of the Uluru climb and provided Australia with Indigenous perspectives over January 26.

I’m currently working on the launch of The Beach – a documentary about Samson and Delilah director Warwick Thornton as he isolates (pre-COVID-19!) in the Dampier Peninsula in order to work on his mental health and reconnect to Country. 

I’m currently living in Surry Hills in Sydney, and hoping to have a canine companion by this time next year.

Do you have a fond memory of your time at Friends?

My fondest memories are the teachers I had and the values they instilled. Anne Lynch was an incredible mentor, and a great friend. Sarah Walker, Adam Chambers and Mary-Marg Gibson always saw potential in their students, and I so appreciated the time they took in providing outstanding knowledge but also care for their students.

Though the Vietnam trip of 2007 is also a stand out! 

Do you have any advice for our current students?

Soak up every opportunity you are given, and always (within reason!) say yes. I was intent on spending as much time overseas as I could, so I always sought out those opportunities, knowing my 20s would be the best time to take advantage of them. 

Moving overseas can be daunting, which is why I promised myself to always say yes to the offer of a night at the pub, a day trip to an obscure location or an offer of friendship.

Also, for those who are desperate to escape Tasmania, believe me, you’ll look back and miss it every day!  


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