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Solent Unviersity Southampton logo

Hannah Ngakane

BSc (Hons) Business Management with Marketing
Graduated 2021

Headshot of Hannah Ngakane

Hannah Ngakane graduated from BA (Hons) Marketing with Events Management in 2014 and has gained recognition in her role as content partnerships lead for Pinterest, managing social impact projects with partner brands, including Pinterest’s first UK and Ireland Black History Month campaign, ‘Black Gold’.

Hannah was listed on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Europe in Media and Marketing 2021, hosts ‘Walk the Walk’ – a podcast exploring the career successes of Black leaders – and serves on Solent Business School’s Business Advisory Board, offering support and advice to local businesses.

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

My job is to create and lead the UK strategy and relationships across creator campaigns and content. My remit is to help attract high-potential creators to the platform and nurture high-performing creators, helping to generate content for Pinterest. In addition to this, I establish creator partnerships with brands, media companies and internal partners to generate revenue opportunities and on-platform content campaigns.

What does a typical working day look like for you?

It can be anything from building decks and presenting at events, to launching creator experiences such as tablescaping workshops or pasta-making classes to upskill their content creation. Or I can spend a day analysing data, looking at how content is performing and finding new opportunities to enhance content engagement on the platform.

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 by companies.

The reality was that I had a lot to offer companies, as did my peers – younger generations are so savvy and 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.

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.

What’s your career highlight so far?

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

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 were very realistic to my day-to-day life now. Learning to compromise, utilising people’s strengths and skills, and striving to achieve a common goal –that 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 – everyone was made to 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 my course and Solent had a great blend of sports facilities, a 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 and cheerleading are still my closest friends to this day. I was so worried about not connecting with anyone and being lonely, but that was so far from possible!

What opportunities do you get while studying at Solent?

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

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, but you don’t tick 100 per cent of the boxes, still apply! You each have a unique skill, mindset or experience that you can offer a business, so SHOW US!

Something I wish I had known before is that your CV doesn’t have to be boring and shouldn’t be too long! Maximum one-page cover letter, to sell your personality, your passion projects – things people will never ever know unless you tell them. Then list your experience, but never forget that cover letter!

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

I’m currently working on the expansion of our ‘Creator Fund’. It’s a programme to support historically marginalised communities through cash grants, an educational programme and connecting the creators to sustainable opportunities for them to succeed. I launched the fund in the UK last year and this year it has expanded to Canada, Germany and France, which is exciting. Helping more creators celebrate being unapologetically themselves in a safe place!