Sallese Gibson (2008), who was Deputy Head Girl in her graduating year, has recently taken on the role of Media Manager for the City of Melbourne. Along the way, she’s worked in a variety of roles, including at the ABC and Channel 10. Here’s her story.
Tell us about your journey since leaving the College
After leaving Santa Maria, I studied a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Journalism at Curtin University. In my third year, I studied abroad on a university exchange at Ryerson University in Toronto, an experience I’d highly recommend to anyone fortunate to have the option available to them.
After finishing my degree, I was offered a job with the ABC in Renmark, a sleepy little town three hours from Adelaide on the Murray River. I was the bureau’s sole news reporter, filing stories for local, state-wide, and national bulletins. I also read the morning’s radio news bulletins. After three years, I moved to the ABC’s Launceston bureau, where I spent another two and a half years pulling together television, radio, and digital stories. I absolutely loved my time working in regional Australia. I was thrown into the deep end and given some incredible opportunities to take the lead on some big and important stories. In 2017, I moved to Melbourne after landing a producing role with The Project on Channel 10. I spent four years working with an amazing team, travelling Australia (and the world!), producing feature stories for the show. I’m now learning the ropes of media relations at the City of Melbourne, a busy and challenging role as the city bounces back from COVID-19.
When you left Santa Maria, did you have any plans or goals about where you wanted to work?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to work in the media. So, choosing to study journalism at university was a no-brainer for me. I knew there was (and still is) a lot of competition for entry-level journalism jobs, so I was open-minded when applying for jobs. I knew my career path was likely to take me away from Perth and I was okay with that, I was up for an adventure! I’d not heard of Renmark before I applied for the job, but it was a fantastic training ground and a place full of great memories.
Was there any program or person at the College who inspired you during your time here?
I wouldn’t say it was one program or person, rather the array of opportunities on offer at Santa Maria that I absolutely relished. I embraced the various sporting and cultural opportunities available to me while I was at the College. I feel like that set me up well to take on the wild and wonderful opportunities that came my way over the following years.
What have been the biggest highlights or achievements so far in your career?
During my time at The Project, I was trusted by a range of different people to share their important and highly personal stories with a national audience. This included a series of stories on a sexual assault survivor who was fighting to change an anomaly in Victorian law that made it illegal for her to share her story publicly. The stories prompted important law reform. I was also fortunate to be recognised with a Melbourne Press Club award for my work. On the opposite end of the spectrum, it’ll be hard to beat producing an interview with Lady Gaga at her home studio in LA!
Who has been your biggest inspiration personally or in your career?
Since taking on my first role out of university, I’ve worked alongside some incredible women in the media industry. The industry is dynamic, fast-paced, and exciting, and at times, incredibly challenging, distressing and mentally taxing. Journalists and producers often see people at their lowest points, following natural disasters, illnesses, and other crises, so to have a cohort of strong, supportive colleagues (and friends!) to lean on and learn from has been absolutely invaluable.
What do you do in your downtime/how do you relax?
It’s really important to find the time and space to switch off from the news cycle, and I’ve found there’s nowhere better to do that than the beautiful outdoor settings I’ve had on my doorstep over the past decade. I got hooked on hiking when I was living in Tasmania, and still love finding new places to explore in Victoria.
Are you married/have children/pets?
My partner, Abel, and I live with our gorgeous little cocker spaniel, Maui, in Melbourne. She’s incredibly spoilt!
Where do you hope to be in five years’ time?
I’ve always been flexible to the opportunities that have presented themselves, and it’s worked out very well so far, so I’m not entirely sure where I’ll be in five years’ time! If I’m challenged, well-travelled and surrounded by family and friends, I’ll be happy!
Do you have any tips for our students interested in studying journalism?
The best advice I received from my mentor at university was to actively seek out a job opportunity in regional Australia, and I cannot agree more. There’s no better training ground than a small regional newsroom, where the stories are diverse, the people are wonderful, and you’re encouraged to make (and learn from) mistakes. The skills I learned in a tiny South Australian town set me up for success in covering stories across Australia and the world with The Project and have helped me transition into my new role at the City of Melbourne.
Thank you for sharing your story Sallese and good luck in your new role with the City of Melbourne.