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Steering Your Course


Phoebe Saintilan-Stocks and Hannah Diviney
Missing Perspectives Founders, Phoebe Saintilan-Stocks and Hannah Diviney

Words by Susan Horsburgh


Building a career isn’t a solo pursuit – most of us need mentors and support networks particularly, to help us find our voice. The formidable forces behind Future Women and Missing Perspectives used their advocacy to launch successful platforms and have now made it their mission to offer a helping hand to other women.


Hannah Diviney is a champion networker from way back – a skill she puts down to the invisibility cloak she wore as a kid with cerebral palsy. When other children were doing activities that were physically beyond her, Hannah was on the sidelines or attending hospital appointments. “I spent a lot of time around adults, just observing,” says the 24-year-old editor-in-chief. “I learned a lot about how to talk to people.”

 

Paradoxically, when Hannah wasn’t invisible, she was often centre stage – “the cute little disabled kid who’d be wheeled out to tug at people’s heartstrings,” she says. Hannah discovered early on how to use her voice and has used it to spectacular effect, starting a blog as a teenager and posting an open letter to Disney on Twitter, calling for a disabled Disney character. She tagged Mamamia’s Mia Freedman and nabbed her first media job at 15.

 

The daughter of a salesman and a customer service rep, Hannah has made all her media contacts on her own – and suspects that disability has only upped her chutzpah. “I'm used to having to work hard to get somewhere,” says Hannah, who released her book, I’ll Let Myself In, last year.


“If I don't make the move and take the chance, I'm not going to get anywhere because typically, no one's holding the door open for someone like me.”

 

In 2021, Hannah and former human rights lawyer Phoebe Saintilan-Stocks founded Missing Perspectives to amplify the voices of overlooked young women around the world. The media company has since given a platform to diverse storytellers from 70 countries, covering everything from buses converted into libraries in Afghanistan to inequality in the Australian construction industry. Publishing on its website and social media, MP has reached up to 1.5 million readers a month, mostly women under 40. The start-up also has an app in the works which will connect newsrooms with young female and non-binary experts and reporters around the globe.

 

Soon after MP started, Hannah cold emailed Sarah Harden, the Australian CEO of the Reese Witherspoon-founded media company Hello Sunshine, which led to the Oscar winner giving MP a shout-out on Instagram. “That was the turning point for us,” says 30-year-old Phoebe.


A supportive network is a big asset for anyone wanting to build a career or business, and social media has put almost anyone in digital reach.


"Cold emailing has gotten us so far,” says Phoebe, marvelling at the contacts they’ve made and the willingness to collaborate with their company.


“If you have a mission and people resonate with it, they’ll get behind it.”

 

For Helen McCabe, it was her enviable contact book – cultivated through a series of high-profile jobs, including editor-in-chief of The Australian Women’s Weekly – that fuelled her most audacious career move six years ago: creating Future Women, now known as FW. “Having a career that gave me the right or the bravado to ring and talk to people means I’ve had the great privilege of meeting such a wide range of people,” she says. “That’s been the thing that’s enabled me to launch something in my 50s. It gave me that breadth of relationships and contacts and support to call on.”



Future Women's Deputy Managing Director, Jamila Rizvi and Founder, Managing Director, Helen McCabe
Future Women's Deputy Managing Director, Jamila Rizvi and Founder, Managing Director, Helen McCabe

 

FW has evolved from a media company, offering its members content and community, into an education and training business, teaching male leaders to be better allies and running Jobs Academy online programs to help women get back into the workforce, equipping them with skills, confidence and connections. 

 

“A lot of these women have a lot to give and yet have been outside the workforce for longer than they wanted to be for all sorts of reasons – discrimination, barriers to equality, family violence,” explains FW’s deputy managing director, Jamila Rizvi.


“So much of the work we’re doing is about rebuilding confidence … watching these women find their voices again.”

 

That supportive approach extends into Jamila and Helen’s working relationship. Before Jamila had even taken the FW job as Helen’s 2IC, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. “Helen just said, ‘What do you need and when will you be better?’” recalls Jamila. “Pretty much any other employer would have run the other way. I didn't start work for another four or five months and, within two months of starting, I'd had aggressive regrowth and had to have more surgery and take six months off. Helen has been phenomenally understanding and generous.”

 

Asked how to grow a media career, Jamila says she “fell into” the industry after working in federal politics, and initially underestimated the importance of relationships, dismissing networking as “a bit gross”.


“It felt uncomfortable so I didn’t do it, and I probably should have spent a lot more time in that space,” she says.

 

Helen’s professional advice is to “get good at something and have an area of expertise”. In her case, that’s politics. “If everything went wrong, I could go back and talk or write about, or work in, politics,” she says. “Expertise is the piece that will give you longevity.”

 

Comparative newcomers to the media industry, MP’s Phoebe and Hannah turn to their “brains trust” for advice, consulting with the likes of former ABC news director Gaven Morris, as well as former colleagues. They also support each other, communicating constantly and monitoring the other for burnout.

 

After Reese Witherspoon promoted MP in 2021, the next boost came last year with the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which saw the company’s reach triple and women’s sport become its fastest-growing vertical. Phoebe notes that MP – now a team of four – takes a different approach to sports journalism, telling “the human stories” behind female athletes. “That’s what’s landing really well,” she says.


Hannah also credits the Taylor Swift and Barbie phenomena for MP’s meteoric rise. “Female empowerment,” she says, “has really kicked us up into another stratosphere.”

 

Still, the media gatekeepers aren’t necessarily fans of new players. That means Phoebe and Hannah – who met through Phoebe’s mother, one of Hannah’s primary-school teachers – have struggled to be taken seriously. At a recent digital media summit, a newsman referred to the company co-founders as “the Missing Perspectives girls”.


“It just shows we still have to fight and find our place,” says Phoebe.

 

Like FW’s Helen and Jamila, the Missing Perspectives women have no intention of waving the white flag. Hannah wants MP to be “the number-one place in the world for women’s storytelling” and will do everything she can to get the word out. She and Phoebe met with the Obama Foundation last year and, in the leadup to the US election, Hannah is trying to make direct contact with Michelle. So, has she reached the influential former First Lady? “Not yet,” says Hannah. “But give me time.”

 

 

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