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Working for tech giant Pinterest, Hannah Ngakane was listed on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Europe In Media and Marketing class of 2021.

20th October 2021
Business and financeMarketing, communications and public relationsMarketing

Working for tech giant Pinterest, Hannah Ngakane was listed on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Europe In Media and Marketing class of 2021.

Hannah graduated from BA (Hons) Marketing with Events Management in 2014, and has gained recognition in her role as Strategic Partnership Manager for Pinterest, managing social impact projects with partner brands, including Pinterest's first UK and Ireland Black History Month campaign, ‘Black Gold’. Hannah also hosts ‘Walk the Walk’ – a podcast exploring the career successes of Black leaders.

Recently, Hannah has also signed up as a member of Solent Business School’s brand new Business Advisory Board, which offers support and advice to local businesses, and plays an active role in helping shape the school helping to inform curriculum development, student success and business development.

We caught up with Hannah to find out more about her time at Solent and career so far.


Can you tell us a bit about your current company and role?

I work at Pinterest as a Strategic Partnership Manager, this started out making partnerships with magazines like Vogue, Glamour and GUAP and now I lead our creator strategy working with unbelievable influencers, creators and creatives to organically grow their content on Pinterest to around 450 million monthly viewers.

I am so proud of my career, evolving from events management into project management, then on to sales and now global partnerships. All of my experience in my career is about building relationships, trust, working to solve a problem and build positive changes and results. I absolutely love it, even though I never thought this is where I’d have ended up, I am so fortunate to be where I am today.


What does a typical working day look like, for you?

Gosh, no two days are the same! I work from home, but it can include training creators, running team meetings, organising events, working on social impact projects like Black History Month, Pride, and International Women's Day. But mainly each day is about building relationships and trust with different people to achieve company and team goals. I love it!

Image of Hannah on podcast profile

What were the challenges when you started your career?

Definitely being overwhelmed and putting off looking was the biggest challenge that could have set me back even more. I worried about competing for roles and being rejected from companies.

The reality was, I had a lot to offer companies, so did my peers - younger generations are so savvy, confident and businesses love that! Once I started connecting with people on Linkedin and reaching out to professionals I’d met when they came to the university to do guest lectures - work placements and opportunities for experience soon fell into place.


What’s your career highlight so far?

I have two. First, creating and launching Pinterest’s first ever Black History Month campaign in 2020 and then rolling it out in the UK, US, as well as Canada and Germany. And second, making Forbes' 30 under 30 list! That was a HUGE achievement!

Image of Hannah on Adweek article

Do you feel like your studies helped you prepare for a career in the industry?

My course definitely helped prepare me for graduation, I had no clue about finance, project management and business plans before university and this really helped me to lock in my first few roles after graduating.

I chose to do a consultancy project for my dissertation, working in a team to achieve a key goal where timelines and pressure was very realistic to my day to day life now. Learning to compromise, utilise people's strengths and skills and striving to achieve a common goal, is exactly what I have to do now, daily.

To me the lecturers were the best thing about my course! They were personable, supportive, consistently approachable and truly cared about doing all they could to help me get the best grade. I am still in touch with nearly all of my lecturers to this day.


What did you enjoy about studying at Solent?

Class presentations - they made everyone feel so comfortable doing them and you’d get instant feedback to help make each year’s presentations less scary. Now in my job I love presenting!

I was also a cheerleader outside of my course and Solent had a great blend of sports facilities, huge library and modern tech in the classrooms. This definitely made a difference to my experience. The friends I made at Solent through my course friends and cheerleading, are still to this day my closest friends. I was so worried about not connecting with anyone and being lonely and that was so far from possible!


What opportunities do you get whilst studying at Solent?

Solent shared an opportunity for students to apply to work at the Olympics and me and a friend applied, we both got paid roles at the 2012 London Olympics, which I still talk about today. We got to go to Super Sunday, diving finals, meet huge brands, celebrities and get unbelievable events’ experience! We would never have applied if our lecturer at the time didn’t tell us about it.

Image of Hannah at graduation

What tips would you give to someone wanting a career in your industry?

Take the risk, if you find a role you are interested in and don’t tick 100% of the boxes, still apply! You each have a unique skill, mindset or experience that you can offer a business, SHOW US!

Something I wish I’d known before is that your CV doesn’t have to be boring and shouldn’t be too long! Maximum one-page cover letter with no less than one paragraph - use this to sell your personality, your passion projects - things people will never ever know unless you tell them. Then list your experience, but never forget a cover letter!


What are you working on at the moment and what are your future plans?

I am currently working on Pinterest’s Black History Month campaign for the UK and Ireland, leading my team to amplify black voices for the month of October through events, content creation, articles, idea pins and creators!

I am also co-president of our internal community group for all female employees across EMEA. This means myself and my co-president are in charge of organising all internal programmes, events and socials for all female employees in EMEA, it's a huge privilege.

Working for a global giant like Pinterest is great, the tech industry comes with its challenges, but it’s also a place where things change at such a fast pace and you really can do anything you like in a tech company! New ideas are welcomed and there are a lot of opportunities you can take!

Next, I aim to grow my team at Pinterest, ensuring everything I do ladders up to making the internet a positive place and ensuring representation is embedded in everything you see on Pinterest!

Headshot image of Hannah