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Harnessing Curiosity

Annabel Hawkins’s career has taken her all around the world and into a plethora of creative fields - all off the back of a skillset acquired at Massey University.


What happens when achieving the dream isn’t so fulfilling in reality?

Annabel Hawkins had a career many young creatives fantasise about, working in a Melbourne agency with big clients - which of course comes with big demands and big pressure.  She was, as she puts it, “pretty burned out” and 80 hour weeks were the norm. 

While many may accept this as just part of the gig, Hawkins saw it differently.

“It just felt like there was an opportunity to work smarter - so I went out on my own.”

Fair to say, she hasn’t looked back.

“I’ve been really lucky to travel all over the world; after working in LA and New York, last year I was digital nomading all over Europe. Working on big campaigns in London, freelancing in Morocco, having the freedom to shut down the office and walk the Camino. I've worked very hard but it's paid off.”

Not bad for a girl from Hawke’s Bay who grew up hooning around on 50CC motorbikes and building flying foxes. 

Ace of adaptability

So what does Hawkins do? Good question. An even better question; what doesn’t she do?  

Annabel Hawkins working in Morocco. Photo: Supplied.

“I do a lot of different things,” Hawkins, a published author, comments.  “Content strategies, branding strategies, I’m a copywriter, I help produce on shoots, I write commercial poetry - adaptability has been a major skill I’ve drawn on.”

You can throw in Paradise Press, her new business venture with fellow Massey graduate Patrick Hickley. The platform that helps NZ Creatives sell their work while supporting the rangatahi-focussed charity the Kindness Institute is into its second edition and proving another feather in Hawkins’s bow.

Hawkins credits her time studying communication at Massey University’s Wellington campus for opening so many possibilities in her career and futureproofing her options. 

“I am very driven but perhaps in a way that’s not super linear: I’m just curious about a lot of things,” Hawkins muses. “I’ve always been drawn to writing and different creative processes and outlets.  Massey was a really great choice for me because I could pursue that full spectrum of things I was interested in.”

Skills that pay the bills

Annabel Hawkins on a shoot in Karekare. Photo: Jack Barry.

The ability to adapt and be career flexible is a common trait among her fellow graduates – Massey’s Bachelor of Communication alumni are employed across 20 industry categories with more than 280 job titles.

Hawkins finished the course that combines a blend of arts and business disciplines feeling ‘industry-ready’ - across a range of industries. “I definitely didn’t go into it (her degree) with a single-minded intention of what I would come out with,” she explains. 

“Studying the arts is an interesting experience.  People are often critical of it because it doesn’t have a clear end goal like the way you study law to be a lawyer or accounting to be an accountant. 

“It’s more about developing tangible skills like editing, publishing, basic journalistic practice as well as having a bit more freedom to explore other mediums like documentary filmmaking, screenwriting, live theatre performance and creative non-fiction.

“They may not sound like ‘career’ type things to study but actually I’ve used all those skills learned in those classes throughout my career.”

Annabel Hawkins on a shoot at Bethells Beach. Photo: Sara Orme.

As she lines up her next challenges, even in this ever-changing landscape, Hawkins has confidence in her ability to adapt. 

“It’s about harnessing curiosity and continuing to fuel that, developing real-world skills you can take to the workforce and offer potential employers.”


Written in Partnership with Massey University. To find out on how you can unlock 280+ career choices with one Communication degree, click here

Written by

The Big Idea Editor

8 Nov 2020

The Big Idea Editor